Graphic Design Trends to Look Out For in 2021

The field of graphic design is constantly evolving to adapt to the ever-changing trends in the design industry. After the unprecedented circumstances faced by designers and the rest of the world in 2020, experts predict that graphic design trends for the remainder of 2021 will be a “breath of fresh air” compared to the trends we’re used to.

As 99designs points out, “past trends were driven by the promise of a new decade, borrowing from sci-fi and futuristic tech.” However, these trends were uprooted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; 2021’s graphic design trends will focus more on putting people first and focusing on community and collaboration.

The pandemic also increased the collective amount of time we have spent on social media, namely, on apps that rely on proliferation of popular content with high engagement rates – like TikTok and Instagram. The nature of these apps have made it easy for trendy, popular content to reach larger audiences. Design trends have nonetheless been heavily inspired by content on these apps.

Experienced graphic designers have weighed in to predict what trends will take control of the design industry in the remainder of the year. 

Sustainability & Positive Packaging

As Tom May points out, “the idea of developing a new, more sustainable relationship with our environment has been growing steadily throughout the 2010s.” This provided a great basis for the widespread appreciation of sustainability that arose in 2020; during the pandemic, time spent outdoors became much more valuable, therefore increasing a worldwide positive sentiment with sustainable practices.

Retro Nostalgia

Nostalgia is at record heights, once again due to the pandemic’s effect on the population. Time spent indoors and in isolation has invoked a sense of missing “the good old days” for many. This sentiment is beginning to manifest in the design realm, and experts predict it will prevail for the rest of the year.

There is a certain optimism that we find within nostalgia; a sentimental, warm reflection of days of the past. Utilizing these emotions within design have shown to attract a greater number of consumers due to our collective yearning for better days.

Abstract Psychedelia

If you follow the design industry, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the recent popularity of dream-like gradients, grainy textures, and bright color palettes. Experts predict that graphic designers in 2021 will be “reviving psychedelia through excessive color and intensely intricate abstractions” (99designs).

Although the pandemic has no doubt invoked a sense of nostalgia in all of us, it has also created an excitement for a future time where these hard times are long gone. This longing for better days on the horizon is shaping the futuristic, abstract trends seen within psychedelic design.