12 Inspiring Graphic Design Trends for 2022
It’s 2022! Give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far.
Okay, so 2021 may not have been all that you hoped for, but 2022 will be our year, right?
We’re living in strange and unpredictable times. Just when we thought things were getting better, another development happens, and it can feel like we’re taking one step forward and three steps back. But hey, enough of that negative talk. Let’s look at the positives as we head into the new year!
Despite the chaos of the world, 2021 saw many of us begin to emerge out of isolation like social butterflies coming out of a cocoon. The events of the end of the year may have put you back into your personal space cocoon, but even if you never managed to come out of hibernation (hello introverts), you might still agree that there’s still hope for the future.
Things will get better. And there’s a common feeling of change among all of us. While we used to crave the “normality” we once had, we’re now looking to the future with fresh perspectives and new ideas for how we want to live fun and fulfilling lives.
Our physical and digital lives are merged more than ever before. That means that many of us are working from home, or from anywhere in the world. Having the freedom to create your own working environment and schedule allows for more creative thinking.
Even the art world has embraced digitalism. In 2021 we saw a boom in the popularity of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. These purely digital artworks created a shift in what we perceive as valuable. Many artists are not only switching to digital mediums, but there’s been a spike in digital art sales. Thanks to blockchain technology, digital art is quickly becoming one of the most lucrative art forms of the 21st century.
As the world is changing, technology is evolving, and graphic design trends are reflecting the times. Perhaps in response to the restrictions we’ve all been facing during the pandemic, design is becoming more bold, experimental, unrestrained, and optimistic. And some beloved aesthetics from the past are even being given a second life.
Let’s take a look at the Vectornator team's forecasted design trends for 2022.
What are the Top Design Tips for 2022?
Our List of 2022 Design Trends:
- Graphics in Motion
- ‘90s Nostalgia
- Playful Typography
- Bubble Fonts
- Candy Colors
- Glass and Crystals
- 3D Characters
- Mixing 2D and 3D
- Psychedelic Design
Graphics in Motion
Now that many of us are spending a good chunk of our time living in the digital world, it will take more than static graphics to grab our attention (and keep it). Today’s brands are engaging consumers through motion graphics and animation, and we’re likely to see the trend evolve even further in 2022.
From subtle in-app motion graphics to looping gifs to animated shorts, motion brings stories to life. Motion graphics allow brands to playfully present products and ideas with more dynamism in the modern digital space.
This design trend is not only influencing digital platforms—motion graphics could start appearing on static materials, such as packaging. Since the pandemic, we now understand that scanning a QR code reveals more information. And with the rise in augmented reality, or AR, brands could start creating packaging designs that appear to move and shift when looked at through a screen.
Whether you’re a professional motion graphics designer or simply interested in trying out this trend, everyone should know the 12 basic principles of animation to get the most out of creating movements.
Even though the digital world is booming, there’s still a special place in our hearts for them primitive Internet days. We have already been experiencing a ‘90s renaissance in fashion, but the vibrant era is starting to spill over to the graphic design world, too.
Millennials in particular will feel drawn to these nostalgic digital playgrounds. Think MTV, 90s raves, Saved by the Bell, bold color blocks, and your family’s first computer. For those who are designing with childhood memories and comfort in mind, the 90s aesthetic is a fun and colorful way to express it.
To create a perfect time capsule in your designs, take a look at 90s ads, tv shows, games, and CD covers. This trend is all about having fun.
We're calling it now, 2022 will be another big year for typography. For designers brave enough to try something new, letter styles are a great way to express particular feelings and ideas. There really are no bounds to what letterforms designers can make, and more and more people are now pushing the boundaries of typography.
Lettering is an art form in itself, and text can be an exciting way to fill a space. In 2022, you might see mismatched letter styles, playful abstract shapes, and contrasts between flowing lines and sharp angular shapes.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with lettering this year, but if you need to know the basics of typography, learn more about different styles of type and font here.
Since 90s nostalgia and playful typography are already trends on this list, it only makes sense that bubble fonts are making a comeback. Yep, we mean the type of letters you would have drawn in your high school notebooks.
Rounded graphics and bubble shapes convey friendliness and positivity, and let’s face it, we need a bit more of that right now.
In 2022, we predict designers will try to strike a balance between that childhood glee and cool sophistication. That’s why typical bubble fonts will likely be upgraded with elongated forms, bold outlines, and vibrant pops of color.
To accomplish this trend, why not begin your design process with an old-school notebook and pen? You can then scan your hand-drawn bubble fonts and import them into Vectornator. Our Auto Trace tool will turn your initial sketches into vector graphics, ready to be refined.
While we’re on the subject of color trends, candy hues are popping up all over the place. In a bid to convey optimism this year, vibrant candy-colored schemes make a bold statement and just make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. You’re sure to see these sweet hues in web designs, animations, illustrations, and typography.
Using candy colors in your designs evokes a playful, youthful vibe. They work particularly well in 3D illustration and character design, which we’ll talk about later.
When designing your candy color palette, you could use a photograph of your favorite sweets and use the Vectornator Color Picker to select each hue.
We’re tired of rules and regulations, and so is the design world.
For the last decade, many design experts focused on usability, creating interfaces that followed strict, foolproof design rules. However, this led to a pretty boring design world where every app and website began to look the same.
However, in 2022, there’s a new wave of anti-designers that are eager to bend the rules. The anti-design movement could be compared to Brutalism, a post-war architecture style that boldly challenged conventional tastes.
Just as Brutalism caused controversy, graphic design will too. Whether you love it or hate it, you’re sure to start seeing designs that are liberated from traditional design principles. Think asymmetry, clashing colors, busy compositions, and bold typography. It’s not supposed to work, but it just does.
While minimalism is about keeping design elements few and far between, maximalism is all about shamelessly putting it all on display.
In 2022, we predict graphic designers will create powerful visual experiences with bold layouts, competing elements, multiple fonts, little white space, and clashing colors and patterns. Cool tones and muted colors are fine, but let's hear it for some brash and obnoxious design choices! This might sound chaotic and we know it’s not for everyone. However, maximal design is more like organized chaos.
It’s not about just throwing everything at your digital canvas—each element should be carefully chosen for a purpose. It can be a challenge to allow all of these elements to co-exist in a design that’s still usable, but a brand has more chance of standing out if its design is brave and experimental. And for users, it’s simply more enjoyable to engage with a visually rich interface.
Maximalism evolved to counteract the sparse and structured nature of minimalism. Thanks to designers who are brave enough to experiment, the digital landscape is becoming a more lush and entertaining space.
Glass and Crystals
An article about graphic design trends wouldn’t be complete without mentioning texture.
At the beginning of 2021, we mentioned the trend known as “glassmorphism,” and the sleek aesthetic is still popular in UI design. The style involves making elements or buttons look like frosted “glass” by blurring objects and allowing subtle light and color to “shine” through.
Apple used this effect on the latest update of macOS Big Sur, and then in October 2021, Microsoft adopted the glassmorphism trend with Windows 11.
In 2022, we’ll see this trend evolve even further with mesmerizing 3D realism. Designers inspired by glass and crystals are combining the glossy aesthetics of the materials with 3D illustration and animation. We wish we could reach into our screens to touch these digital treasures.
The use of characters and mascots is definitely not new. Where would Kellogg's be without Tony the Tiger? Or Michelin without Michelin Man?
But it is becoming more and more widespread these days, and for good reason. Characters allow brands to form a solid identity that’s memorable. And characters are an easy way to convey emotions, ideas, and a product’s end-use.
Today, 3D characters are living all over the graphic design space, in apps, websites, and animation, and they aren’t going anywhere in 2022.
Designers are using programs like Cinema 4D to turn geometric shapes into expressive characters and animals, complete with vibrant colors and realistic textures. We particularly love 3D characters that seem to be inspired by soft materials—they look charmingly cute and squishy; like they belong in a claymation film.
Mixing 2D and 3D
3D design has been having a moment for a while now.
The internet is home to countless 3D characters and environments that blur the line between the digital and physical. Hyper-real, 3D visuals have a big impact, especially when they’re combined with movement or animation.
Recently though, designers are beginning to marry 2D and 3D worlds by combining illustrative elements and photographs with 3D design. This creates an entirely new and exciting digital world, where the two styles playfully interact and hold a viewer’s attention.
Since the pandemic, we’ve been spending a lot of time indoors and our connection with nature and the wider world may be starting to fade. However, designers are escaping lockdown by tapping into their imagination to illustrate their rich inner minds.
In 2022, we hope to see fantastical designs that allow us to get away from the mundane and explore surreal, nature-inspired worlds. While the escapism trend is mostly suited to illustration, it can be useful for packaging designs, websites, and apps.
The psychedelic design style was one of the trends we predicted for 2021, but it’s not going anywhere just yet. In 2022, expect to see more mind-bending patterns and funky design elements.
Psychedelia began in the 1960s when mind-altering drugs was having a major influence on culture and design. From fashion designs to festival posters; psychedelic patterns, motifs, and typefaces ballooned and melted across their canvases.
But why is the hippie era will relevant in 2022?
Mimicking the colors and patterns of acid trips, psychedelic design evokes the chaos of our time, as well as nostalgia for simpler times. From trippy animations to far-out web designs, this style embraces a carefree spirit and hypnotizes users with kaleidoscopic visuals.
2022 is a year to look forward to, and graphic design trends are reflecting that.
The future is all about finding meaning and joy during these turbulent times. Despite life’s current restrictions, designers are showing that creativity shows no bounds. Design is all about celebrating change, movement, vibrancy, and embracing imperfections.
Of course, our trend predictions aren’t always correct, so don’t take this list as gospel. These design tips are only gentle suggestions. Plus, the future is all about individuality, so go your own way and create something new.
For making design choices in 2022, think about how you can help people connect with one another in the digital world, and how you can lift their spirits with rich visual experiences. And be sure to download Vectornator so you can bring your trendy 2022 designs to life!
Do you have a favorite trend for 2022? And what big design project will you work on this year? Make sure to follow us on socials and share your designs with us. We love to see the exciting things you’re creating!
All of us at Vectornator wish you a happy and creative 2022!