Graphic Design Trends for 2021: Our Top 7 Most Inspiring Picks

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10 min

last updated

January 2021

Graphic Design Trends for 2021: Our Top 7 Most Inspiring Picks

Although 2020 has been a very unusual year, it brought about many changes to our physical world. In the new normal reality, the importance of technologies was underlined even further, making it quite bold that having a physical presence is not enough to keep ahead of competition. As a smart business owner, you should also fight a digital corner.

We have already discussed the importance of design and how it can either push away your potential customers or bring new ones. However, style/design or taste are extremely subjective topics, you may dislike a specific fashion style, but most people may actually like it. In this rapidly changing world, standing still will take you nowhere but backwards. That is why while designing something, trends should be your primary guides.

The newly emerging design trends are here to work harmoniously with some certain UI/UX lasting elements such as fast navigation, gadget-friendliness, battery saving, or high security, and boost them visually. However, keep in mind that it’s not all about having a well-designed website, but also marketing, branding, and all the other areas that your graphic design skills interact with. All of them are part of the same system and have a knock-on effect on each other.

So, go to your brain settings and switch to the thinker mode right now. Are you ready? Then let’s observe 7 design trends that will blow up the industry in 2021.

table of contents

1. 3D Design

The use of A.R. and V.R. in web design and apps come to prove that designers improved their 3D game. So, despite not being a new trend, 3D Design becomes more and more fascinating as time passes, making the majority of contemporary technological advances. Nowadays, 3D Design accounts for about 20% of the product modeling/design market share. And you know what? This number is only moving upwards.

The use of 3D Design will most likely develop towards creating mind-blowing hyper-real visuals. Such use of 3D Design will simply blur the border between the digital and physical making it quite hard to differentiate between those two. So, 3D Design will become a central element dominating the digital design industry in the not too distant future.

Moreover, 3D is also being influenced by the use of illustrations on photographs. Today’s design gurus tend to combine images with illustrations or 3D, making the latter more trendy. Some of them even pepper them with animations and motion, which visually enhance the website, making it stick out among the others.

The most important part of this is that the use of such techniques isn’t just to project designers’ creativity sparks or please their artistic taste buds, but also to appeal to the viewers. Studies have shown that such elements grab your viewers’ attention and have a significant impact on your bounce rate. Let’s be honest; it requires unimaginable effort to leave a well-designed page without utmost fascination, even if the viewer is your opponent.

Tick-tack, scroll down because the clock says it’s time to see several astonishing applications of 3D:

2. Optical Illusion

What would you do if you came across an image which tricks your senses, making your brain perceive it not in a usual way? Let’s give it a try. Check out the images below:

You probably immediately scrolled down. Yes, that’s the right choice, stay away from witchcraft! Or wait! Did you stare at it for a while to get the trick? Don’t worry; the Witchcraft Act was removed in 1951, you won’t get punished for it. So, please take advantage of that and spend as much time as you need until your brain works it out. Well, let’s get more practical and see how much you actually spend on staring at these designs.

Saying that your Design should be catchy and appealing would be an understatement. We have already discussed why keeping your visitors/viewers on your website can be challenging and why it should be a priority for you. As you can see from your very recent first-hand experience, optical illusions can solve this problem for you. With optical illusions, a wow-effect is guaranteed. The more you look, the more you need to look. It’s smart, and a candid “warning note” it’s ADDICTIVE. So If you want to stand out and glue your brand to your viewers’ memory, then you should definitely consider using this trend.

But remember, you should be extremely careful with the usage of optical illusions. It shouldn’t be overwhelming and should walk harmoniously with your concept. So, don’t get overexcited, adding too much salt and pepper to the dish. Make sure it’s edible.

3. Voxel

Before toppling the concept of Voxel art, we should first understand what a pixel is. If you zoom into an image, you will see hundreds of small squares that form a grid. These squares are what we call a pixel. A voxel is basically the 3D version of a pixel. In short, the pixel is a square, and the voxel is a cube. Sounds simple, right? This is why most of the artists who work on 3D animation and modeling do their first steps by working with voxels. It is a fun process, which leaves much space for creativity sparks and experiments.

So, generally said, voxel art as a form of digital art is the application of 3D pixels to create animations, illustrations, and of course, video games. You cannot confuse it with any other digital art type due to its unique style, which is quite similar to lego blocks. Being a combination of 3D and shape elements that allow the artists to create exciting designs, Voxel art has a huge potential of becoming a go-to style in the graphic design industry. It is memorable and dynamic. What else do you need to grab your viewers’ attention?

Scroll down and look through several brilliant samples that we handpicked special of you!

4. 3D Typography

Which one is your favorite cereal brand? Nah, this is not a coffee break. I just wanted to know did you immediately recall the packaging and the logo? Big, unusually designed letters? Well, the packaging of your favorite cereals may not be your go-to source of inspiration, but it’s a very simple way to understand that typography is everywhere.

In short, Typography is the art of conveying a message through an aesthetically-pleasing composition. Surprisingly its omnipresence never stopped designers from flavoring typography with various creative and playful ideas to appeal to their viewers. We believe that the use of 3D techniques in typography will become the next stop for trend-thirsty designers. The application of 3D in typography will allow you to create ultra-realistic lettering, which the viewers will most-probably try to touch. So, 2021 will morph Typography designs into 3D, playing with elements of animation, texture, and pattern.

5. Emoji

The all-around digitalization of our everyday life has virtualized our communication with each other as well. Most of the elderly usually complain that technologies caused nothing but emotional isolation. Your gadgets can’t convey emotions, they said. But what if they can? What about emojis? Isn’t it the first thing you add to your keyboard after getting a new phone? 👀

It is really amazing how emojis went so viral becoming inseparable from our daily text messages. The reason why 92% of the online population uses emojis, and over 10 billion emojis are sent each day, is probably that people actually believe that images express their emotions better than texts. Indeed that’s true since our brain processes them as non-verbal information making us perceive emojis as emotional communications.

But you know what’s also amazing? The fact that people are already familiar with them and love them. So, peppering your website, designs, or texts with emojis would be simple and smart. Emojis can become a spoon of positivity in tandem with enhancing your brand. Nothing personal, just statistics 😉

Want to lift your post engagement by 57%? Use emojis. Want to become more likeable? Use emojis. Want to increase your credibility? Use emojis. Want to increase the number of your comments and shares by 33%? Use emojis! Well, this might sound like a pick-up coaching session, but it’s indeed true, and the use of emojis can boost your brand.

So, it is entirely reasonable to think that emojis will become a must-have graphic design element over the next few years. Just don’t forget to take yourself out of your comfort zone. When something is omnipresent, you have to be creative to stand out 😉

6. Glassmorphism

There is a new style in the field which becomes more popular on a daily basis. Its unique characteristics, such as transparency, which gives a frosted-glass effect and several layers, give depth to the interface allowing the viewer to see through it.

These layers look like small pieces of virtual glass, and this glassy look is why it is called Glassmorphism.

No doubts that after Apple’s introduction of Glassomorphism into macOS Big Sur, this new style will be intensively copied in the upcoming months. Obviously, it will not dominate all the interfaces (that would be way too much…), but it will for sure become more common and popular.

This style is truly astonishing. As an iPhone user, I can definitely claim that the glassy layers I find on my display are one of my favorite U.I. elements. Its verticality allows the users to see the depth of the interface without actually getting tired of it. Frankly said, it tastes like a perfectly salted dish to me and comes to prove that the use of some virtual glass can actually make your product look more attractive.

7. Cartoon Illustrations

Having a recognizable and standout design is more of a requirement rather than an option. It’s the only way you can keep ahead of the completion and get noticed among the grid of available products. So, to become everyone’s first choice, you should be creative and not afraid of experimenting.

Many designers and brands have already come to this realization, as a result of which Custom Illustrations have gone insanely viral. The interesting and multi-technique character of illustrations enhances your Design in tandem with walking harmoniously alongside your concept and message. So, Custom Illustrations are a beautiful way of creating a standout and eye-pleasing Design. Thus, they are yet to keep their spot as a graphic design trend for a decent period of time.

The most exciting feature of Custom Illustrations is that they can be expressed in different forms. Imagine you are an artist and someone gives you a huge room and allows you to do with the walls whatever you want. That would be insane, right? Well, Illustrations are basically a virtual empty room for graphic designers. So, what are you waiting for? Rush to fill up the walls! Maybe this time you should try with cartoons?

Well, custom cartoon characters are about to blow up the illustration industry. They are joyful, flexible, and creative. With custom cartoon characters, your brand will have a personality. It is smart to create catchy branding and establish a playful atmosphere around your product or website. And you know what the fun part is? There are absolutely no limits! You can use them everywhere, from presentations to business cards, and bring a dose of joy to everyone who interacts with your brand. Now it’s time you take yours, look through these dazzling samples, and have fun!

Final thoughts

We as humans get tired of a trend very quickly, and it’s completely normal. The pendulum swings every few years, so to enhance your brand, you should keep pace with all the changes that happen within the digital industry. With all these dynamics, you simply can’t afford not to afford. Therefore, it’s time to act. A spoon of fresh air would never harm anyone. If you are a designer, you should definitely try these trends out. If you are a brand owner, you should look for designers who can apply these trends (hint: they may be closer than you think). Contact us for more information!

General FAQ

What are the graphic design trends for 2021?

Some of the most popular upcoming design trends for 2021 include 3D designs, optical illusions, voxel art, 3D typography, emoji designs, glassmorphism and cartoon illustrations.

What is modern graphic design?

Graphic design covers everything from branding, typography, mascots, leaflets, poster design – anything that visually must communicate an idea.

What is the Pantone colour for 2021?

For 2021 Pantone announced two colours: Illuminating (described as “a bright and cheerful yellow”) and Ultimate Gray (described as “solid and dependable elements”), for a year where we all need some dependability and lightheartedness!

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