Every year we see new and exciting graphic design trends develop; this year we are keen to leave 2020 behind us and enter 2021 with a fresh breath of air. In previous years we have seen graphic design trends hint towards the future with futuristic technology trends incorporated into designs. However, in 2021 we are going back to basics by putting people first and getting back in touch with nature.

Graphic design is all about transforming the plain into something special and remarkable. This year we can expect to see the following 10 trends lead graphic designs.

10 Leading Graphic Design Trends in 2021

  1. Nature
  2. Sustainability
  3. 3D Design
  4. Cartoon Illustrations
  5. Geometric Shapes
  6. Optical Illusions
  7. Colourless Designs/ Monochrome & Duo-Chrome
  8. Typography, 3D Typography & Chaos Design Typography
  9. Socially Conscious Designs
  10. Introducing Characters
Design Trend - Nature

Graphic Design Trend #1 – Nature

“I have noticed the use of elements of nature recently in graphic design. I think this trend will increase in popularity throughout 2021.”

– Adriel, Graphic Designer at Dweebi

Over the past couple of months, we have seen organic, softer, natural design trends increase in popularity. These ideas come from mimicking nature, utilising natural lights and softer, earthy colours.

This graphic design trend compliments other trends we expect to see in 2021. Alongside graphic design that take inspiration from nature, we are expecting to see designs with muted colour palettes and colour pallets taken from natural scenes.

Natural graphic design

However, it’s not just in 2021 graphic design colour pallets that we can expect to see the nature trend shine through graphic designs. We can expect to see illustrations of nature and textures of stone and wood shine through. These trends have been present in graphic designs for a while and in 2021 we expect to see a big push. After 2020, it’s become more important that we all need connect with nature for our mental well-being and this includes within our designs.

Design Trend - Sustainbility

Graphic Design Trend #2 – Sustainability

Sustainability in graphic design shows that the company behind the designs have considered the environmental, social, and economic impacts of their business. Sustainable graphic design goes further than just the design itself but also considers whether a design may be printed, the paper choices, ink and materials as well as offsetting carbon emissions to reduce carbon footprint. 

Whilst there are many ways that a designer can help a business reduce its carbon footprint, from considering the equipment they use and reducing their energy consumption, they can also help a business reduce its energy consumption through the designs they produce.

How to reduce your carbon footprint with printed design

Consider the size of your design

Perhaps, instead of printing your leaflets on A4, you can print them A5 instead. Alternatively instead of two separate pieces of paper used for one letter or leaflet they can be incorporated onto one piece of paper.

Use more space

To help you achieve the above, fill up white space within your design to reduce the amount of paper needed.

Don’t bleed to the edges

Reduce ink waste and allow for more paper to be recycled by leaving a white border around your designs.

Reuse instead of recycling

Prevent your designs from ending up in the bin by offering it a second life and showing how it could be re-used.

Reduce your carbon footprint with digital design

Printer-friendly web design

Consider creating web designs that when printed, will use less ink and paper. Rather than choosing a solid dark colour background that would use a lot of ink if a user were to print the page, use a white background that wouldn’t use any ink if printed.

Reduce the size of your designs

As we see 5G becoming the new standard, file restrictions are likely to become a thing of the past, however, by reducing the size of your designs you can do more good for the environment. The larger the images and files are on your website, the larger their energy consumption will be when they load on a screen.

Move to the cloud

Instead of sharing graphic design files via email, moving to the cloud can help use less power when sharing and collaborating.

It is important to not just move to a cloud-based service but to choose a green provider. Green providers are also conscious about their environmental impact and their servers are powered by green energy.

Small businesses of 100 people or less could cut its carbon footprint by 90% by moving to the cloud.

Design Trend - 3D design

Graphic Design Trend #3 – 3D Designs

It is not just in typography that we will see 3D elements creep into graphic designs in 2021. Designs this year will have depth and a touch of reality, with 3D being incorporated into images and illustrations.

We can still expect to see fabulous flat designs here and there, but 3D designs have established themselves as a persistent graphic design trend. 3D designs breathe fresh life into projects that could look lifeless and possibly stagnant in 2D.

Design Trend - cartoon Illustrations

Graphic Design Trend #4 – Cartoon Illustrations

Cartoon illustrations can help a business’ graphic design stand out in an industry where generic designs contain stock images, graphic elements, and sleek minimalism. Illustrations are interesting and can help form memorable branding.

This trend will go hand in hand with the ‘introducing characters’ trend, as we see more brands introduce cartoon characters into their branding.

Design Trend - geometric shapes

Graphic Design Trend #5 – Geometric Shapes

The role of shapes in graphic design is integral, they are a basic element that can abstractly make up other elements.

Geometric shapes include squares, triangles and circles. These shapes all have their own meaning, squares symbolise stability, triangles suggest movement or action, and circles represent eternity, as they have no beginning or end.

These shapes can be found in graphic design across every industry and, when used properly, they can help portray mood and message.

Design Trend - Optical Illusions

Graphic Design Trend #6 – Optical Illusions

Optical illusions are designs that trick you into perceiving them differently to how they exist in the actual world. These designs creatively use shadows and negative space to forge an illusion. These designs have boomed in popularity since they attract attention for longer and keep viewers engaged.

Despite this trend increasing in popularity, this is one that you won’t want to overdo. If this trend is present in too many designs, it can become confusing and even overwhelming for your customers.

design Trend - colourless-monochrome

Graphic Design Trend #7 – Colourless Designs, Monochrome and Duo-Chrome

“Colour provokes a psychic vibration. Colour hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.”

— Wassily Kandinsky

Monochrome designs use a variety of different tones from a single colour group. The benefit of using monochrome or duo-chrome is that the viewer’s focus is drawn to a single focus point and is undisrupted by other distracting colours. Monochrome brings the viewer’s concentration to the key elements in the design.

Alongside monochrome designs, we will see duo-chrome designs which follow a similar concept with two colour groups used.

Design Trend - typography

Graphic Design Trend #8 – Typography, 3D Typography & Chaos Design Typography

This year we will see the popular typography trend that we have seen in the past couple of years evolve. Transforming this trend from static typography into 3D will make viewers feel as if they can reach out and touch it. There is a lot that can be done with this design, from an organic or playful feel to including the use of animation, texture and patterns.

3D typography

Typography is becoming more than a way of displaying text, in 2021 it will be impressive and engaging. This trend will also evolve, not just into 3D typography but also into chaotic typography. Chaotic typography put simply, is the disruption of alignment and order of letters and words.

Design Trend - Socially Conscious Design

Graphic Design Trend #9 – Socially Conscious Design

As we venture further into this new decade, we are seeing brands becoming more socially conscious and using their voice to make a difference. This passion is bleeding into all aspects of a business, from the way they name products, with Ben & Jerry’s new Change the Whirled ice cream to the designs they produce.

Ben & Jerry's Socially Conscious Design

Whether it is rallying around environmental challenges, joining in movements like BLM or contributing with pandemic preparedness, 2021 is shaping up to be a pivotal year in which design gets involved in the movement.

“I’ve seen more brands get involved with different movements they are passionate about to connect with their users on a deeper level. These movements shine through in their graphic designs.”

– Mauricio, Graphic Designer at Dweebi

Design Trend - Introducing Characters

Graphic Design Trend #10 – Introducing Characters

Characters can play an integral part in not just a business’ graphic design but also a part of their brand identity. Characters can help tell a story through creative work and also turn a recognisable brand into a remarkable one.

M&M Graphic Design Characters

These characters can help feed into marketing campaigns and flow into every aspect of a brand identity. These illustrations and characters don’t need to be complicated; they can be made of simple shapes as the eyes, emotions and stance are far more important than proportions and scale.

Once you’ve chosen your 2021 graphic design trend, your next step is to create some amazing designs to help your business stand out. One way to design graphics that look professional, and within a quick turnaround, is by using an unlimited graphic design service.

Unlimited graphic design services are the mid-point between using a freelance graphic designed and hiring an in-house designer. You have access to a team of designers that complete your designs request in an agreed turnaround time, for a monthly free. These design requests could be anything you need, from a new logo to marketing collateral like a brochure.

Getting started with an unlimited graphic design service couldn’t be easier, and if you decide it isn’t for you, there is no contract to lock you in. Why not try out some of these design trends with Dweebi’s unlimited graphic design.

2021 design trends

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

HANNAH MOODY

When Hannah is not writing, you can often find her at the gym, on a walk with her dog or binge-watching Netflix. Hannah is an admitted gaming fanatic, she feeds her addiction with regular game nights, filled with a mix of console gaming, as well as tabletop games. 

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