Student's Guide to Graphic Design Trends for 2021 Skip to main content

As technology progresses and designs fall in and out of fashion, graphic design trends are inevitably influenced and reshaped throughout the years. However, it’s clear that the challenges we faced in 2020 forced many designers to seek inspiration from alternative sources and think outside of the box. The unique trends on the rise in 2021 show us an exciting vision of the future of graphic design, with unconventional influences altering the design landscape. If you’re studying to become a graphic designer, here are five trends to look out for as you prepare for your future career.

Incorporate Natural Elements in Your Graphic Design

For many of us, most of 2020 were spent at home, leaving only to get groceries or other run essential errands, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, all of this time inside seems to have served as inspiration for many graphic designers dreaming of the outside world. Designs that incorporate elements of nature are projected to be trending in 2021. Earth-tone color schemes, patterns depicting leaves and flowers, minimalist designs and scenic depictions of the outdoors will all be popular among graphic designers in the coming year, and if you’re getting your graphic design diploma, it’s a great time to gain some inspiration from nature.

Incorporate Natural Elements in Your Graphic Design

Surreal and Psychedelic Designs

It’s predicted that in 2021, graphic designers will be breaking out of the traditional mold by experimenting with more surrealist and psychedelic designs. Tiring of other trends, many designers are returning to trends that were most popular in the 60s and 70s. Surrealism is characterized by the combination of the “real” with the surreal” to create an illusion or a nonsensical image, while psychedelia is characterized by strange, colorful and abstract designs that stray far from the “real.” Both surrealism and psychedelia are characterized by designs that challenge the viewer to accept the strange, moving away from more conventional design concepts.

Graphic Design Trends 2021

Students getting their graphic design diploma can expect to see surrealism as a design trend in 2021

Grain and Blur Effects

Blur and grain effects are becoming popular as a way to create a certain mood or effect with graphic designs. A blurred or grainy background can make an image pop in contrast, and a blurred image can engage a viewer by forcing them to think about what’s under the surface. These effects work well with a minimalist color scheme, and if you’re interested in a graphic design career, consider using these effects when you’re attempting to evoke a quieter or more serious mood.

Grain and Blur Effects

Socially Conscious Designs

If one thing is certain, 2020 was a year that has forced us to re-examine our values as a society and come together as a community to address social, political and economic inequalities. Creatives in the graphic design industry have also been influenced by these movements, and the projected continuation of the trend of socially conscious designs in 2021 confirms this to be true. Socially conscious designs are those which amplify awareness of societal issues and seek to represent and uplift a diversity of identities through innovative designs, illustrations and messaging techniques, and we’ll definitely be seeing more of these in 2021.

Socially Conscious Designs

Greater Incorporation of 3D Elements

While 3D design was already present in 2020, it’s predicted that this trend will reach new heights in 2021. As technology progresses, students taking a graphic designer course can look to an explosion of more accessible professional software making it easier to incorporate 3D elements into the design. Due to the greater access to 3D that graphic designers will have in 2021, 3D components will be much more common as a way to spice up colorful and abstract designs.

Greater Incorporation of 3D Elements

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