In 2018, what’s old was new again. It’s been a great year for taking graphic design elements from the not-so-distant past and adapting them for the new millennium. For example, gradients, which were big in the 1990s, are again gaining traction. We saw more designers rebelling against the flat design and minimalism that has been so prevalent since the past decade.
As the year draws to a close, let’s have a look at the graphic design trends that were big this year. The folks over at AWE Collective have put together a list of some of the trends that were huge in 2018.
Color Gradients and Duotones
2018 was a colorful year for graphic design, with a multitude of color gradients and duotones coming out to play. Duotone gradients are a great way for brands to keep a simple background but have a few colorful flourishes. Aside from gradients, bolder and brighter colors were also used in 2018.
Multiple Color Schemes for Brands
Companies and brands usually only have a few colors that they use across all of their designs, which makes them instantly recognizable whether online or offline. In 2018, we saw a shift, with tons of companies rebranding with a wider variety of color schemes.
Bold and Handwritten Fonts
In keeping with the year’s trend, designers at AWE Collective opted for bold, handwritten typography over the usual styles and fonts for their designs. We saw more typeface variety this year, with designs incorporating more organic, emotive typefaces.
The days of the stock photo and cookie-cutter illustrations are long gone. Drawings, paintings, artistic typography, and calligraphy used to be underutilized because of the accessibility of the stock photo. Now, custom artwork and illustration is on the rise. People are getting very creative with the illustrations for their branding and designs. Custom artwork in a broad range of styles add distinctive personality to a brand.
Better GIFs and Cinemagraphs
In 2018, we left the generic reaction GIFs behind in favor of custom-branded GIFs and cinemagraphs. GIFs help foster a conversation with the audience. With that, brands and companies have become more careful with their GIF usage. That means fewer boring reaction GIFs and more attention-grabbing (and brand-building) custom GIFs.
The use of cinemagraphs is also on the rise. Cinemagraphs are like GIFs in that they are pictures with moving elements – however, cinemagraphs typically have minor and repeated movements of only one or two small elements, unlike the usual “full video” GIF. The new format leverages high-definition photos and subtle movement that that makes it more aesthetically-pleasing and less intrusive than the typical GIF. They can be used effectively in all aspects of a brand’s marketing or design work.
Responsive design is already the industry standard – in 2018, this approach to web design was applied to brand logos, as well. Companies like Google are altering their logo to fit a variety of window or screen sizes as mobile browsing has become more widely-used than desktop browsing. Responsive logo design helps make branding more flexible to reflect the change.
In 2018, the driving force behind most design trends is a major pivot away from the white and neutral color schemes and scant aesthetics that was popular in the past few years. This year, intense, innovative design was the key, and it looks like this design trend is likely to stay well into 2019.