The world of graphic design will see a revival of various trends emerging in 2022. As the global covid 19 pandemic has affected the way we live and work, it has impacted on the art world too, leading to creatives following a more unexpected path.
Graphic designers are reacting to the changes in the world by throwing caution to the wind and embracing trends that defy the usual design conventions and rules. The clean and modern style of minimalism is giving way to more undefined, experimental trends – lines and shapes are more expressive and free overall, while colours are brighter and bolder. Undoubtedly, designers are rebelling against convention and taking the chance to experiment creatively, letting their imaginations run wild.
It’s perhaps inevitable that coming into 2022, designers are looking to previous art movements that enable more freedom and less rigidity. They are also looking through the rose-tinted perspective of the past, no doubt to escape the events of the last two years and create a more positive reality.
Styles that stretch the rules and go against the main principles of design are coming back with a vengeance, resulting in more expressive, escapist, and nostalgic creations.
So, what are the graphic design trends to watch in 2022?
The 90s trend has not only transferred from the catwalks to influence the fashion on the high street, it’s trickled down into the world of graphic design. Following on from the recent trend for all things 80s, it seems that the 90s are everywhere. As far as graphics are concerned, we are seeing the 90s revival through bold neon lettering, Memphis design patterns, retro looking internet frames, and simple, more basic emojis. Certainly, the 90s revival feeds our hunger for nostalgia and the sense of warmth and familiarity it brings, especially during these uncertain times.
In the wake of the uncertainties brought by the covid pandemic, it’s no surprise that many of us have perhaps dreamed of escaping to another, happier world. Inevitably, this eagerness to escape into an alternate reality has spilled over into the art world and has seen designers bending the rules of imagination to focus their mind elsewhere. Think unexpected shapes and colours, playful lettering, and quirky backgrounds – anything that distracts the mind away from our daily struggles.
Following in the neon footsteps of the 90s nostalgia trend, graphic design is experiencing a grunge revival. This move by designers is perhaps another act of defiance against the current climate and has manifested as an expression of their frustrations towards the way things are. Defined by its angst-ridden and gritty style, grunge aesthetic explores the alternatives scenes that the rock genre of the same name expresses. With erratic ink splotches and jagged shading that create a sense of movement, grunge design embodies teenage frustration and suppressed angst. Today’s designers are looking to 2022 with the rebellion of the grunge aesthetic by defying flat, clean graphics in favour of scribbled writing and shadowy backgrounds that create energy and sharp movement.
We’re all familiar with the concept of doodling – the loose shapes and lines you draw as your mind wanders. Your school homework jotter was likely covered in them and you probably still find your pen wandering again while you’re bored. Research shows that doodling is good for the brain and can enhance your recall memory, so it’s unsurprising why designers are using it for 2022, following the uncertain two years we’ve all had. Graphic designers are embracing the free-flowing, abstract, unique style that doodling results in and are incorporating it into their creations.
Pushing the boundaries of legibility and reality, designers are creating expressive and experimental lettering with no distinct shape or structure. Think formless mismatched styles, mind-altering shapes and indistinguishable blobs that question the relationship between the concrete and the abstract. Due to the experimental and expressive nature of this trend, the design possibilities and scope for creativity are endless. However, it is a risky style for designers to experiment with.
Perhaps as a reaction to minimalism and consumer culture, artists have been bending the rules of graphic design and creating their own conventions. The anti-design movement emerged in Italy in the 1960s and challenged conventional tastes by encompassing distorted proportions, irony, and clashing colours. For 2022, graphic designers are channelling the radical anti-design movement, expressing rebellion with exaggerated proportions, stark typography, and striking colours that shock the viewer.
Ukiyo-e flat design
Graphic designers are taking inspiration from Japan’s Edo period, which saw the iconic Ukiyo-e art movement. Translated as “pictures of the floating world”, Ukiyo-e was a style characterised by well-defined bold flat lines and colours. Ukiyo-e artists created hand-carved woodblock paintings and prints depicting scenes such as Kabuki performers, landscapes, folk tales, erotica, and more. Perhaps the most famous example of Ukiyo-e flat art is Hokusai Manga’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa, a woodblock print created between 1829 and 1833.
Today’s vector designers are adopting the same techniques used by the Ukiyo-e artists and to create typical flat vector scenes with the movement’s characteristic bold flat lines.
The last two years have certainly shaped the way graphic designers are expressing themselves and will continue to do so into 2022. With a need to escape the struggles of the current climate, artists are looking to a more positive future and are rejecting the rules in favour of experimentation and freedom of expression. Straight, defined lines and traditional design conventions are giving way to more flowing forms and bold colours.
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