Disrupting The Rules: The Boldest Graphic Design Trends in 2020

Our today is limited with so many rules, especially due to the recent Coronavirus lockdown we have been forced to experience. The soul is thirsty for more dynamics, brightness, and beauty. To reinforce the inner engine of creativity, we sometimes need a pinch of inspiration from other creative geeks who are still working hard to produce new original styles and fresh aesthetics for the modern digital world.

To empower designers, illustrators, and other cool creative professionals, we have collected the most prominent graphic design trends that are breaking the rules in 2020. Moving away from the traditional and closer to innovative, we’re welcoming you to the garden with the blossoming digital trends.

The Beauty in Brutalism

Design by Eugene Paryhin for Fireart Studio

The new decade unlocks myriads of incompatible combinations and immersive designs, united into one stylistic family — brutalism. Mark Alan Andre, a famous architectural designer said it once about brutalism in architecture, but it perfectly describes the essence of the concept in digital design too:

“I’m drawn to brutalism because of its simplicity and honesty to its materials. It’s a very “pure” form of architecture when it’s done well.”

This style is about brutal honesty without excessive decorations. It is characterized by deliberate plainness, crudity, or violence of the imagery. It is almost screaming about breaking the traditional rules.

Brutalism doesn’t align with a classical understanding of composition or color aesthetics in graphic design. It adds more sharp edges, unexpected views, dynamics, and bold colors. This style intentionally attempts to look raw, haphazard, or unadorned. It can satisfy the aesthetic tastes of the most outrageous, brave, and ambitious graphic design gourmets. Below, you can enjoy a few brutalist designs, which we have found to be particularly beautiful.

Design by Okalpha

Design by Giga Tamarashvili

Cyberpunk Renaissance

“Science fiction is reality ahead of schedule.” — Syd Mead, Blade Runner concept designer

Animation by META on Behance

We can describe cyberpunk with nearly the same words since it’s a sci-fi sub-genre. It’s not easy to give a precise definition of cyberpunk.

This concept rooted in the new wave science fiction movement of the 1960s and 1970s and spanned film, fashion, and design industries. It is both a style in digital design and a massive culture. Cyberpunk features advanced science and technology in the future urban world. When you think of cyberpunk, you usually envision incredibly high skyscrapers, shimmering neon lights, futuristic color palette, and dystopian backdrops.

This style has become slightly kitsch in the digital illustration and motion design trends on the edge of millennials, but in 2020, it has gained a second life. Take your sunglasses and enjoy the dazzling and breathtaking blast from the past in the cyberpunk design examples provided below.

Illustration by Yulliia Dobrokhod for Fireart Studio

Design by Romain Trystram

Ultra-Thin Geometry

“The line is a rich metaphor for the artist. It denotes not only boundary, edge or contour, but is an agent for location, energy, and growth. It is literally movement and change — life itself.” – Lance Esplund

Design by Eugene Paryhin

In the attempts to create new futuristic aesthetics, designers combine ultra-thin geometry with flowing liquid curves. This incredible mix of styles attracts many companies that incorporate these breezing aesthetics into their branding styles and visual materials. Below, you can see a few samples of the ultra-thin geometry implemented in ultra-beautiful designs, breathing with elegance and minimalism.

When we think of a form, the first thing we see is a line, defining the overall silhouette. The shape and nature of the object live in the line. It is the primary element of every image. This year, we can see the art of line in a very extraordinary form — ultra-thin geometry. It has already gained widespread acceptance in the electronic, industrial, and computer industries. However, in 2020, this style is gaining momentum in graphic design too.

Design by Demih Kodarlak

Design by Ian Douglas

Loud Bold Typography

“Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare.”- Voltaire

In recent years, bold typography has become a big trend. Saying “big,” we mean that it is literally gigantic. Just look at this huge typography below!

Design by Andy Selimov for Fireart Studio

If used in the right place and the right quantity, bold typography has the potential to uncover the brand’s soul, character, and mood. There are a few designers and entrepreneurs who are ready to apply this outrageous font style to brand identity. But, a sensei of typography who knows how to combine bold letters, colors, and digital design in a visual perfection, can bring a lot of popularity to a brand and admiration among a target audience.

Design via Sagmeister & Walsh

Absolute Monochrome

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

Mono-mania obeys the hearts of many designers, brands, and customers worldwide. The monochromatic color palette has become widely adopted in the digital world. Today, we can see it in website design, mobile app design, branding, and other areas of design. It refers to the use of varying tones of a single color. It is versatile, timeless, refreshing, and easy to style.

Even though a monochromatic coloring operates around different hues of the same color, it looks much more exciting and unusual than plenty of other more “colorful” designs. Of course, the designer should be a real master to choose a tone combination that doesn’t look boring and, on the contrary, it evokes a lot of interest and visual satisfaction.

The particular value of monochrome is hidden in the ability to focus the viewer’s attention on the key elements in the content. It doesn’t distract with unnecessary details or switching colors. Monochrome brings the person’s high concentration on a promoted product or service.

Design by Rokas Aleliunas

Illustration by Dani Rayne

Mind-Blowing Art Collages

Collage by Jorge Torres

The art collage has become very popular in digital design during the last few years. It is an extraordinary visualization technique that implies an assemblage of different forms, materials, and sources, creating a new whole. It usually includes newspaper or magazine clippings, ribbons, bits of colored or hand-made papers, and photographs glued or photoshopped together on the canvas.

In collages, designers mix the worlds, the universes, and different angles of views on the same topics. They often try to create interesting visual effects tricking the eye and mind. The collage is one cohesive image constituted by several realities. Would you like to see what we really mean? Welcome to a few mind-blowing worlds introduced in these art collages.

Animated Collage by Andriana

Collage by Anna Yashina

Not Saying Goodbye

“If I had asked the public what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”- Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company

Animation by Aslan Almukhambetov

The functionality is the horse. One of the designer’s primary tasks is to endow this horse with a silver horn and airy wings. Besides the functionality, we also need a visually stunning design that inspires and lets our imagination fly high. Hopefully, these graphic design examples will help you give a fresh update to your art and empower you to do new creative experiments. Let’s move this world forward to innovation and unconventional beauty!

Continue ReadingDisrupting The Rules: The Boldest Graphic Design Trends in 2020

20 top graphic design trends for 2020

The start of a new decade is often the signal for fresh thinking and novel approaches to come to the fore, not least in the ever-evolving world of graphic design. So as we move from the 2010s to the 2020s, what are the emerging trends we should be keeping an eye on?

To take the temperature of creative opinion, we’ve spoken to design professionals at all levels of the industry to discover the trends they’ve been spotting, and the predictions they’re making. Read on as we reveal 20 graphic design trends, covering everything from logo design to illustration, that look set to be big in 2020.

01. Intensifying minimalism

Flat illustration of a cartoon dog

The Cats & Dogs weather app shows a typical example of the rising trend for flat minimalism (Image credit: Cats and Dogs Weather App)

In the latter half of the 2010s, we’ve seen minimalist, flat design dominate the world of digital. And the designers at Grady Britton believe the trend is only going to intensify as we enter the 2020s. “In line with marketing’s ongoing quest for transparency and honesty, design will continue to strip away extra flair and embellishment and move toward a much simpler, straightforward presentation,” says group creative director Brian Dixon. “It may even veer into intentionally unfinished at times, as believability is the priority.”

Designer Paul Levy concurs. “The ubiquity of flat design, involving primary colours, simple, intuitive two-dimensional illustrations and easy-to-read type, will continue to grow,” he predicts. And this isn’t just about aesthetics, but function too. “The main benefit of flat design is in allowing users to quickly interact with interfaces, and find the content they’re looking for.”

But while flat design owes its origins to digital, its principles have started to influence the printed medium as well, he adds. “Increasingly, we’re seeing analogue content being broken down into a more user-friendly hierarchy, making content relevant to the reader easier to find,” he says. “In fact whatever the medium, flat design, along with the evolving discipline of UX design, is giving graphic designers a powerful tool to help people easily navigate content.”

And while flat design has a reputation for being cold and unfeeling, it needn’t be so. Indeed, senior art director Adam Murdoch believes that in 2020, “Design minimalism will shift toward the warm and cosy, with interactive design’s white-and-light, luxury brand colour palette going warm and friendlier; and beige, sage and pale yellow showing up more frequently.”

02. Abstract 3D and vibrant colours

Poster for The Tide by Droga5 incorporating abstract 3D forms

Poster for The Tide by Droga5 (Image credit: Visuals for The Tide by Droga5)

Perhaps as a backlash against the popularity of flat minimalism, we’ve seen abstract 3D forms coming into their own over the last year. “Software updates that have democratised 3D render technology are helping drive this trend,” notes Tamryn Kerr, associate creative director at VMLY&R. “The stunning work produced for the Greenwich Peninsula Festival by Droga5 is a great example, both on the posters and animated for digital. Like watching a well-designed lava lamp, a mesmerising bubble shape moves elegantly across the screen, instantly catching your attention and drawing you into the information piece.”

Consuela Onighi, UX designer at Illustrate Digital, is seeing similar things. “I’ve noticed that over the past few months, most designs have created a 3D feel by combining layers of typography, images and abstract shapes, often reflective of the company branding, to create depth,” she says. “This is often paired with bright, vibrant colours and gradients, which I believe will become a strong trend in the next year too.”

Alex Halfpenny, design director at Elmwood, paints a similar picture. “Neons, fluorescents and bright vibrant colours continue to be the go-to for designers to help design stand out,” he stresses. “Favouring digital application, or special print colours, the addition of subtle gradients help colours feel alive, and give design a youthful and future-facing, optimistic aesthetic.”

03. Type-only approaches

Selection of variable fonts

Will 2020 be the year that variable fonts break through to the mainstream? (Image credit: VMLY&R)

Have you noticed how the number of designs taking a type-only approach appears to be growing? Us too. “Finally brands are braving typographic design over photography and I expect we’ll see even more businesses adopt this attitude in 2020,” says Emily Benwell, digital design and marketing specialist at Liberty Marketing.

Davide Baratta, design director at Impero, agrees. “I’ve been seeing greater use of typography and bespoke typefaces as defining elements in branding,” he says. As does Nazar Begen, head of project at Crello, who notes that “designers are playing with typography more than ever, to create more innovative and modern compositions. Artistic typography, maxi typography spilt into multiple lines, and semi-transparent fonts forming various shapes are all on the rise.”

Simple, bold typography has been a big 2019 trend, and that’s set to continue in 2020, believes Steve Sharp, director of Fat Cow Media. “We’re finding this technique to be extremely effective, helping brands to deliver messages via simple, strong, singular statements,” he says. “It’s a good technique for brands that are straight-talking and to-the-point.”

Meanwhile Chris Willis, head of design at VMLY&R, feels 2020 could finally be the year of variable fonts. “There are several high profile designers already working in this space, so it’s poised to go mainstream,” he says. “This technology is especially exciting in the digital space, where the possibilities are endless.”

And Grady Britton designer Katie Larosa believes that type is only going to get more creative in this next decade. “There’s recently been a trend to break the rules that, as designers, we never thought you could break,” she says. “In 2020, I predict we’ll see more bold, decorative typography that pushes conventional boundaries, and some ‘bad’ design done on purpose.”

04. Super-maximalist and ultra-minimalist

People walking by billboard for WeWork

FrameWork, the identity system Gretel created for WeWork, takes an ultra-minimal, editorial approach to type (Image credit: WeWork)

Justin Au, designer at Gretel, has seen two divergent typographic trends grow over the last year. “On the one hand you have a super-maximalist approach, filled with exuberant letterforms, 3D distortion, and alternate methods of image-making such as acid graphics or collage,” he says. “An example is the work we did for Nike By You.

“On the other hand, there’s a return to an ultra-minimal editorial approach, driven by tiny typographic nuances and a dedication to presentation by stripping all excess. You can see an example of that in our design system for WeWork. I think both are successful in cutting through the blandness of clean, geometric sans-serifs that have dominated subway walls and Instagram feeds alike.”

05. Taking GIFs to the next level

“Something we’ve seen more and more from brands in 2019 are clever, branded animations that bring to life messages in a fun and innovative way,” says Steve Sharp. “As GIFs grow in popularity across social media platforms, animations have also grown in quick succession and are more popular in email marketing and web page design than ever before.”

Mark Chatelier, executive creative director at StormBrands, agrees. “We’re seeing more brands use GIFs to offer quick and quirky responses to notable events throughout the year: look at Google’s mini Twitter animation for Movember for example.” And he believes an alternative approach to GIFs will begin to reshape the digital landscape in the coming year.

“Think storytelling, dynamic use of identity and content, animated mascots and brand assets that move and interact with each other across websites and social media,” says Chatelier. “Designers can no longer afford to sit still. It’s time for brands to follow and explore how the popularity of the updated GIF format can work for them. Otherwise, it’s an opportunity wasted.”

06. Multisensoral moving content

Abstract motion design of a figure 2, resembling a cave interior

Multiple artists collaborated on the BBC2 idents led by Superunion (Image credit: BBC2)

Still not got around to learning those motion design skills? Then 2020 would be a good time to do so, as the discipline is increasingly in demand. “Motion design and moving images are becoming more popular than stills,” says Davide Baratta. “There has been a rise of processing and expressions in motion design over classic keyframe animation.”

And that’s for good reason. “Brands are becoming more aware of how important good motion design is,” says Iain Acton, head of motion design at DixonBaxi. “Not only as a tool to unify every aspect of their design but also in further communicating their key messages. A well thought out motion vocabulary lets you speak with a unique voice, helping you stand out in an ever-noisier world.”

And he stresses that motion design is no longer just about ‘animating the logo’. “Here at DixonBaxi, motion design is a vital part of every project from day one,” says Acton. “Next year I expect to see more projects that invite multiple artists to collaborate, as we saw earlier this year with both BBC2 and ITV. I also expect the use of code to continue to grow as people build new tools to solve creative problems, resulting in new and exciting ideas that push design boundaries.”

Emma Newnes of B&B Studio adds that, “As our attention spans get shorter and our desire for immediate gratification increases, we’ll see many more brands invest in moving content. As we move into the future, brands will attempt to gain recognition for their style of motion graphic or brand sound. Visual brand equities will transcend into kinetic equities as multi-sensorial branding takes on a whole new literal meaning.”

07. Motion with intent

Two Apple airpods

The clever effect on the Apple Airpods site shows there’s life in scrolling transitions yet (click on the image to try them yourself) (Image credit: Apple)

It’s not just that we’ll be using motion design more in 2020, but we may also be using it in different ways. Kelli Miller, creative director and partner at And/Or, cites some specific trends in motion design right now, including “hyperreal geometric/sculptural 3D forms in plastic-y, colourful materials, generative computational work in both 2D and 3D, illustrative character-driven narratives, and unconventional typography animations.”

In general, she feels there’s an honest sense of playfulness and interest in how far we can push our digital tools at the moment. “And it seems the narrative character driven animation work is a direct response to that: it’s more crafted, human-centred work butting up against digital/computational work.”

More broadly, Dan Healy, image and motion director at Bulletproof, feels we’re seeing a shift towards “more meaningful motion; motion with intent. This can be seen in the use of seamless transitions, for example. And with Instagram being more and more relevant, we need to be much more efficient with our motion.”

Healy predicts that in 2020 motion design will appear in more and more digital formats, with a consistent feel. “There will be a continuation of using mixed media, a combination of 2D and 3D motion and cinematography. The value of sound design will play a pivotal role in brand recognition and awareness, and with meaningful motion we can really add value. And within web design, I think we’ll see never-ending scroll take on a new life, with clever scroll transitions like the new AirPods website from Apple.”

08. Ingrigue overtakes legibility

“Adaptive typography has continued to grow in popularity in 2019, as designers have found more practical and productive uses for kinetic fonts,” says Alex Halfpenny, design director for Elmwood. “Interest can be found in deformed letters, bespoke glyphs and disruptive typesetting, where intrigue overtakes legibility in the design hierarchy.”

Emily Benwell, digital design and marketing specialist for Liberty Marketing, points to the example of Uber Move. “They developed a sans-serif typeface that has been a major player in their rebrand, delivering their brand messaging via moving posters hyper-effectively,” she says. And Dave Gee, co-founder of Jam_, predicts this trend will continue in 2020. “We’re seeing much more from big brands using moving typography as the main graphic element in creative across the web and social,” he says.

09. Graphical disruption

Go Compare advert with repetitive text, photo cutouts and wild colours

Like it or loathe it, you can’t ignore this Go Compare advert (Image credit: Go Compare)

If many areas of design in 2019 have seemed anodyne, bland and coldly functional, then hold onto your hats; things might be about to change. “We’re noticing a push towards ‘graphical disruption’: grabbing attention and quite intentionally stopping you in your tracks,” reports Sarah Sanders, head of strategic insight at Precipice Design. “In certain categories, there is a lessening of the calm, considered and controlled colour palettes, refined fonts and negative space that have dominated. Instead, these are replaced with intense almost rebellious hues and juxtapositions, protest-like repetition of messages and bold and dense use of black.”

In short, there’s a graphical sense of urgency and intensity at a level not seen for quite some time. “It’s no coincidence that this shift is happening in a time of such political, social and ecological unrest,” argues Sanders. “Look from the bright, bold, intense clashes of the latest GoCompare print campaign to the material of Extinction Rebellion and you will find clear parallels. This approach won’t be right for all products, of course, and in fact needs order and control to push against. The question will be which brands and designers are brave enough to embrace the discord and create something that risks being deemed offensive or ugly.”

Social media is one factor driving this trend, believes Kelli Miller, creative director and partner at And/Or. We’re living in a time period where experimentation and playful mistakes have an easy and temporal place to live on our social media feeds,” she notes. “The work is not as permanent or labour-intensive as it once was, which makes it easier and less risky to quickly try new things. I love that playful, punk rock spirit, it’s really fun and exciting to see what people are making.”

The positive feature of this trend is that people are not being precious with their work, but there is a potential flipside, she adds. “ I think it’s just as important to be aware of what feels overly trendy, and keep the parts that feel authentic and genuinely connected to an idea, let the rest of it get lost in the feed.”

10. Backlash against Insta-perfection

Beauty advert showing two unaltered portraits of women

The “Beauty in Real Life” campaign for CVS features portraits of women that haven’t been Photoshopped (Image credit: CVS)

Is the Instagram-inspired notion of showing idealised versions of our selves on its way out?  “Lately, we’ve seen a huge shift in how brands are portraying people so that audiences feel a truer connection,” says Jennie Potts, design director at B&B Studio. “In a backlash against the image-obsessed, overly filtered selfie culture, we have seen the rise of un-retouched imagery, using real people over models and representing truer diversity.

“Brands are realising the power in celebrating their consumers instead of promoting just one, outdated aesthetic,” she continues. “This has been happening mostly within beauty and fashion sectors, but I think we’ll see it expand across different sectors as we move into 2020.”

11. Focus on Gen Alpha

Three young boys gathered around a handheld device

Brands need to start thinking about Gen Alpha as a new target market (Image credit: Zhang Kaiyv/Pexels )

In case you’re not keeping up, Millennials are now approaching their forties, Generation Z are entering their twenties, and the focus of branding experts is now starting to fall on Gen Alpha: those born during the 2010s. “Generation Alpha are now up to nine years old,” explains Lee Hoddy, creative partner at Conran Design Group. “But what they lack in age, they more than make up for in influence in the family dynamic and spending behaviour; so brands ignore them at their peril in 2020.”

Gen Alpha interact with tech more naturally and instinctively than any previous generation, and this will influence brand touchpoints and micro behaviours profoundly. “Branded moments are softer, more empathic, more ambient.  It’s subtle, it’s clever, and it’s meaningful in their day to day activities.”

As a result, Hoddy predicts, more brands in 2020 will move away from just using visuals to communicate to customers. “Instead they’ll craft interface-less, designed moments that surprise and delight to create long term brand loyalty, and if you’re lucky, adoration. The opportunity for designers and brand guardians is massive.”

12. Organic look and feel

Drinks can with line drawing of a dove

Good Things Brewing Company uses simple graphics that are rich in meaning (Image credit: Good Things)

Throughout the 2010s, we’ve seen more and more brand and packaging design focus on the organic, the calming and the natural. And right now, that trend is only heightening. “This is in response to the precarious relationship with our ever-depleting planet coupled with increasingly digitally connected and dissected, data-rich but time-poor lives,” says Andy Capper, creative director at Echo Brand Design. “We all crave more openness and transparency, and we’re seeing type, colour, illustration, packaging and product design influenced by this.”

He offers some examples of what this looks like in practice. “From digital lifestyle brands like Uber we’re seeing a softening and a simplicity, through their use of more approachable typography with fewer capitals, more circular letterforms and clean, naturalistic icons. In recent campaigns from Nike and Adidas, we’re seeing greater honesty to styling and photography, focusing on real individuals in less staged environments, reflecting a desire for more one-on-one conversations.

“Natwest and Monzo, banking old and new, are embracing softer, more naturalistic colour palettes and stripped-down illustration, a big step away from the authoritative and autocratic banking of old. And we’re seeing technology product companies adopting aesthetics and materials that are inspired by nature and in tune with our homes. Rather than the shiny black tech monoliths of old, soft forms and interesting textiles are being combined. Out is the hipster world of complex filigree and industrial masculinity for consumer brands. In are stripped back brand identities and pack graphics. Good Things Brewing Co.’s identity by Horse Studio is a great example of a simpler presentation that’s still rich in meaning.”

13. Action on sustainability

Three Olympics medals

The Tokyo 2020 designs are all made from discarded electronics (Image credit: Tokyo 2020)

The focus on sustainability right now isn’t just affecting what designs look like, but the design process itself. “More brands are trying to make a positive contribution by transitioning towards innovative approaches to packaging, such as using recyclable or ethically sourced materials,” says Charlie Smith, creative director at Charlie Smith Design. “The types of inks we use, the different finishes we see, and the materials we specify are all contributing to a more pared-back design trend, and this is set to gain momentum in 2020.”

“The global issue of sustainability and impact on climate change is one overriding theme that runs through all our design and production teams’ creative minds,” says Steve Austen-Brown, creative director at Avantgarde London. “This topic resonates with all the brands we work with, and across all design approaches. Our approach to sustainability has been key in the way we tackle 3D spatial design. The materials, and the reuse and recycling life span of structures and environments, are also spilling into the way we think about other design disciplines.”

Alex Halfpenny, design director at Elmwood, takes a similar view. “As designers take more responsibility for the collateral they help create, the desire to find sustainable materials, techniques and finishes are at the front of mind when every new brief comes in,” he says. “These include more environmentally alternatives to things like foil blocking, dialling up premiumness while reducing material cost, embracing natural paper stocks and simplified techniques.”

14. New perspectives on gender and sexuality

Gender-neutral dolls from Mattel

This September, Barbie manufacturer Mattel released a new range of gender neutral dolls (Image credit: Mattel)

Changing attitudes to gender and sexuality are certain to have a big impact on how the industry evolves in the year to come. “Design in 2020 will be more human focused, celebrating the benefit and the individual compelling product attributes, rather than just who it’s for,” says Lee Hoddy. “We’ll see even more brands moving away from the traditional ‘This is designed for a woman therefore it needs to be pink’ approach, and instead celebrate personalisation and the real person behind the product.

“Our job as designers will be more of the critical friend, challenging what’s been designed, what this says, and why,” he continues. “How brands behave and position themselves in this environment will raise questions with consumers that could have a lasting impact on sales and profitability.”

Take character design, for example. “We’re seeing the rise of gender-neutral characters in advertising,” notes Davide Baratta, “which is a reflection of what is also going on in the real world, where more and more younger people are identifying as gender-neutral.”

15. A spirit of rebellion

Homepage of Dexter Navy, featuring a random and chaotic collection of moving images

The design of Dexter Navy’s homepage is anything but conventional  (Image credit: Dexter Navy)

We live in chaotic times, and this is having a clear influence on the creative industries, believes Maisie Benson, designer at B&B Studio. “People are turning to individual activism to try and deal with the growing sense of societal uncertainty, and we’re seeing this assertive rebelliousness filter into design,” she explains. “Verbal identity and tone of voice has never been so important, and 2019 has seen a rise in the bold repetition of words and sentences in typography. We’ve also seen more outlined type, another visual protest to the traditional rules on legibility and messaging. And brands that attempt to replicate this aesthetic in an inauthentic way certainly feel the backlash.”

Designers are being energised by change-makers at the grassroots, and are also aware of their own ability to shape change, she adds. “So we’re seeing fonts inspired by handwritten protest messaging from the Berlin Wall, as well as Greta Thunburg’s handwriting.”

Curro de la Villa, creative director at 72andSunny Amsterdam, offers a similar take. “Overall I have the feeling that 2020 will be the year where imperfection and rawness become a more mainstream vibe, embraced by big brands on their visual identity like never before,” he says. “While invisible design is getting slicker and more present in functional design in the UIs of our phones, global companies want to go the other way and look more human, adopting an unpolished and almost punk tone of voice: it’s no longer a visual language that belongs just to small rebellious start-ups or fashion labels.”

And that’s a good thing, he feels. “It gives designers a chance to experiment, almost vandalise typefaces, use bold contrasty and unexpected layouts, absurd kerning, neon colours… all combined in crazy ways, embracing imperfection. This is happening in almost every discipline, and I’m loving the experimental side of it. We see it in photography: I love the messiness of Dexter Navy’s website and its photography. We see it in editorial content: the layouts of the online articles of The New York Times Magazine are always a beauty. And we see it in typography and 3D, such as Thom Yorke’s latest 3D animated music video.”

16. Device dependent design

Silver iPhone 6 plus and Macbook Air On Wooden Table

In a world of second-screening, people are demanding both device specific apps and responsive websites (Image credit: Pixabay/Pexels)

Do you develop a website that works across all devices, or make a device specific app that only works on one of them, such as the iPhone? Harry East, co-founder and creative director at Equals Collective, believes that in the coming year, you’ll increasingly need to do both.

“In 2020, we’ll continue to see the chasm widen in responsive design,” he says. “Although styled similarly, the designed experience will become fully tailored for the platform consuming it. Expect to see websites and web apps designed with unique experiences for each format. Our experiences are now consumed differently depending on the way they are viewed and used. The best web experiences will be defined by their ability to meet this new design challenge and captivate an audience with specific designs matched to experiences across different platforms.”

17. Cause-based branding

Absolut's 'Kiss with Pride' campaign

Absolut’s ‘Kiss with Pride’ campaign is backed up by action: the brand has donated more than $40 million to gay and lesbian centres such as OUTserve, OUTFEST, and God’s Love We Deliver (Image credit: Absolut)

The time when brands would avoid taking a stance on social and political issues is long gone. And that trend is only going to become more marked in 2020, believes Adam Murdoch, senior art director at Grady Britton. “Equity-focused marketing will continue, as brands continue to show they ‘believe everyone is of equal and important value’,” he predicts. “But what will change in 2020 is putting real funds toward actual causes behind their message.”

18. Immersive experiences

Promotional video for Spark AR

Will tools like Spark AR raise augmented reality from gimmick to serious design tool? (Image credit: Spark AR)

We’ve been hearing this for a while, but Dave Gee is convinced that 2020 will be the year of augmented reality. “We predict that AR and the use of immersive experiences is going to dominate the design industry next year,” he says. Why now? “With tools like Spark AR, and the development of phone and camera technology, it’s much easier to create professional content,” he argues. “As a result, brands are turning to AR to increase engagements and sales.”

Mark Davis, creative director at me&dave, is singing from the same hymn sheet. Something that’s already made waves in design is a focus on experience, and I think 2020 will see a renaissance in this approach,” he says. “It’s about empowering the consumer to become part of the brand experience, rather than remain a passive receiver that’s endlessly dictated to. The way to do this is by marrying the digital with the physical.

“Digital can’t exist in isolation,” he argues. “It needs to be integrated with a ‘real-world’ experience seamlessly and intelligently, and brands like Burberry are masters when it comes to this kind of experiential engagement. They recently used their WeChat site to create a parallel social event to a significant launch, including live streams, forums and even virtual 360 degree tours of the physical exhibition, which directly connected with people using personalised content.

“Obviously, few have pockets quite as deep as Burberry’s, but crack the formula and you’ve got a blueprint for an authentic, engaging brand experience that invites people to become part of your storymaking. The best way to sell experience is with experiences: this ethos must be at the forefront of strategic design thinking in 2020.”

19. Making brand stories more believable

Selection of personal stories from Airbnb hosts

Airbnb has raised brand storytelling to a fine art in 2020 (Image credit: Airbnb)

Storytelling has been the mainstay of branding for some years now. Yet Andy Askren, partner and creative director at Grady Britton, believes that brands in 2020 will be under greater pressure than ever to make those stories seem authentic and believable.

“More brands, both old and new, will work to introduce ‘roots’ to their stories, any way they can,” he predicts. “This has been coming for a while, but it’s going to explode this year.” And what visual tricks can designers use to aid this effort? “There will be a continual looking-to-the-past for inspiration,” Askren believes. “Heavier, rounder fonts mixed with larger, more pronounced serif fonts, saturated colourways and design cues from the vaults will be what’s hot.”

20. Uncertainty

Two feet stood on road in front of white arrows pointing in different directions

Which way will the world head in 2020? In truth, none of us knows (Image credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay )

In a world that seems to be becoming more unpredictable, perhaps the only solid prediction we can make about graphic design in 2020 is that anything is possible. “Nothing will be precious in 2020,” says Alex Halfpenny, design director at Elmwood.

“From multiple and gradient colour palettes to flexible typography and procedurally generated brand identities, design itself will have to move quickly to keep pace with the unstable political climate, on-demand culture and shortening attention spans of a society with little patience, and little appreciation for the previous generations’ meticulous approach to long-lasting, but ultimately, static design.” So buckle up, and the best of luck to you all!

Continue Reading20 top graphic design trends for 2020

Graphic Design Trends 2020: Breaking the Rules

Graphic design trends 2020 are here and about to steal your heart!

Year 2020 is less than three months away and everyone is already wondering what the world of graphic design will look like. Undoubtedly, graphic design has always been a field of deep admiration and huge inspiration to many and we all can’t wait to see what awaits. We’ve made a deep research to spot the rise in several particular trends which are expected to boom next year.

Graphic design trends 2020 are:
  1. 3D depth and realism
  2. Going monochrome
  3. Shiny metals
  4. Typography craze
  5. Image and text masking
  6. Line art
  7. Collages of drawings and photos
  8. Simplified illustrations
  9. Isometric illustrations
  10. Earthy colors: a sense of vintage
  11. Patterns and textures
  12. Geometric designs
  13. Liquids


Design Trends 2020 Video Overview

See a quick video overview of graphic design trends 2020 – truly captivating and breath-taking! To see more examples and learn more about each trend, simply keep scrolling down.


1. 3D depth and realism

The 3D trend reached its peak in 2019 and it certainly won’t fade away so quickly. Thanks to the opportunities of modern technology and software capabilities, in 2020, we will keep seeing more awesome 3D graphic design compositions. Moreover, in order to be more creative, designers will often combine it with other realities, such as photos and 2-dimensional objects.

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Graphic Design Trends 2020 - 3D style and animation example 3View source

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Graphic Design Trends 2020 - 3D style and animation example 6View source 


2. Going monochrome

Lately, we’ve been seeing a tendency of graphic and web designers using a monochromatic color effect on pictures. Remember the duotone craze from graphic design trends 2017? It turns out, the trend has now evolved into an even more simplified version. A monochrome color filter is widely used on photos or partial elements in graphic composition. Have a look.

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Monochrome colors example 1View source



3. Shiny metals

Using metallic materials in graphic design has established as ultra trendy for branding identity and product design. By rule, this trend requires a minimalist overall design, since the focus falls on the metallic effect itself. We’re noticing the designers mostly use gold – it conveys luxury, class, and good taste. But the metallic effect can also be achieved by using shiny surfaces over matte surfaces in any color.

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Golden and Metal look example 3View sourceTo make the effect even more impressive, branding specialists combine this trend with relief engraving for brand identity physical materials such as business cards.

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Golden and Metal look example 4View source



4. Typography craze

In order to create more innovative and modern compositions, designers are playing with typography big time. This trend is expected to flourish in 2020. Figuratively and literally!

Decorated with beautiful flowers, geometric shapes, and more creative elements, artistic typography is certainly the perfect solution to nail the attention. Combined with the maxi typography trend from graphic design trends 2019, artistic typography in 2020 will really stand out.

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Typography - HostView source

Speaking of maxi typography, the trend has certainly proved as a stable one and we’ll keep seeing it. In fact, in 2020 maxi typography will be so maxi that designers will split the words into multiple lines.

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When it comes to thickness, the rule is – the thicker, the better. Heavy fonts and lettering are already flooding the world of graphic design. We see them in logos, on posters, on web designs, and even on package design. Once again, the letters will be huge, and may even go beyond the composition’s edges.

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Bold Fonts example 3View sourceAnother huge trend about typography for the upcoming year would be drawing shapes with it. What do we mean? Twirls, circles, or simply curves following the curves of other elements in the design. The shapes can be 2-dimensional and even 3-dimensional. A big hit is creating 3d objects with words such as cubes, stairs, and more.

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Semi-transparency in typography is also quite trendy. In 2020, we will be seeing it in different forms. Sections of words overlapping one another, “double typography” with the second copy being transparent, or simply semi-transparent typography over photos and other elements of the design composition.

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Transparent Text Trend Example 1
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Get inspired by some Creative Typography Design Ideas That Will Totally Amaze You.



5. Image and text masking

Image and text masking isn’t a new technique to the design world but it still looks quite modern in 2020. As it leaves a big portion of the image behind unrevealed, it helps achieve a mysterious and minimalist look. In 2020, designers will keep creating compositions with image and text masking, of course sticking to maxi typography for the latter in order to achieve the desired effect. Here are a few examples.

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Image and Text Masking Trend Example 1View source

You may be interested to read this related article: Beautiful Minimalist Website Designs



6. Line art

The trend of outline typography and elements which have been quite mass during 2018 and 2019 is now evolving into fully illustrated and animated line art patterns and designs. In its essence, line art is a schematic, simplified illustration style. As such, it is great for conveying concepts and ideas. It looks clean, elegant, and unobtrusive. Line art is one of the preferred decoration styles in graphic design trends 2020.

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Line Art ExampleView source



7. Collages of drawings and photos

We’ve been witnessing a quite interesting and creative trend in graphic design which reminds us of the drawings we used to make on our notebooks in school, i.e. doodling. Doodling has started as a fun trend in the world of illustration but quickly became such a hit that we see it on designs all over the web. Here you can get some free doodle illustrations.

When used in graphic design, doodling helps to achieve a more informal, personalized, handcrafted, and overall fun feeling of the composition.

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Doodling over photos trend example 1View source

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Doodling over photos trend example 2View source

Designers have been combining real-life photos with simple illustrations replacing parts of the photo or interacting with the photo. Similar to the doodling trend but with a quite bigger portion for the creativity part. The innovative trend is definitely one we will be seeing in 2020, as it predisposes for huge creativity and opportunities to create a unique piece.

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8. Simplified illustrations

Using illustrations in graphic design isn’t anything new. In fact, designers often incorporate illustrations to convey concepts and ideas and communicate messages better. When it comes to graphic design trends 2020, simple illustrations will be a top choice.

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The lack of detail allows designers to focus not on the art itself but the message it conveys. In 2020, illustrations in design will often look oversimplified, sketchy, and even… childish.

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Simplified illustrations example 2View source



9. Isometric illustrations

Isometric illustrations have been in the listing of trends for many years, and logically, they have gone through many transformations. Often used for infographic design, web design, and presentation design, they are a preferred style because of their capability to illustrate a 3-dimensional object on a 2-dimensional surface. You can also check out some Beautiful Isometric & 3D Illustration Templates For Your Designs

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Isometric Illustrations example 3View sourceIn 2020, motion is everything. Isometric graphic design evolves into a fully animated and super engaging visual solution. The translation of 3D objects over 2D surfaces lately has become more real than ever. We expect that isometric design will keep evolving to a point where it looks like an actual 3D which moves and plays with the audience.

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Check out some of The Best Isometric Illustrations.


10. Earthy colors: a sense of vintage

Everything new is a well forgotten old. However, it’s definitely hard to forget the amazing 50s and the following trend confirms this. The 50s are a huge source of inspiration for designers. By using earthy color nuances and hand-drawn ink illustrations, web and graphic designers are creating compositions that convey the home-feeling of 50s’ designs. You may also be interested to check out more examples of Retro Design in Modern Times.

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