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10 Graphic Design Trends for 2018

Laura Busche September 2, 2021 · 6 min read
As design professionals, it’s important to dedicate some time every year to sit down and analyze the trends that are starting to impact our industry. Reviewing the aesthetic styles, content formats, and tools that have become prominent during the second half of the year can help us make solid predictions about what will trend in the upcoming year. To make that process much easier, I’ve summarized 10 of the most outstanding graphic design trends we can expect to see more of in 2018.

1. Moody Tones

The 80/90s are clearly back, and the wild popularity of series like Stranger Things is solid proof. Along with that era comes a renewed interest in colors that weren’t perceived as bright. For various reasons, the colors captured by devices back then were somewhat worn out and not as saturated. This phenomenon has inspired many designers’ preference for moody color palettes to be used with all kinds of materials: screen, paper, fabric, among many others. Perhaps the easiest way to identify this trend is to see moody filters applied to regular photos:
In color theory, we use the term value to express that relative brightness or darkness. Moodier tones have a lower value, making them appear darker. Similarly, there’s another trait called Chroma that measures the quality of a color’s intensity or purity. Since moody colors are distant from their pure, saturated bases (think primary red or blue), they are said to have a low Chroma.

2. Ultra Violet and Galactic Effects

Pantone just named Ultra Violet its Color of the Year for 2018. This deep, blue-based purple reflects the larger trend of drawing inspiration from space. Therefore, Ultra Violet doesn’t just point to literal motifs like stars and planets, but also deeper emotions like our sense of discovery. Expect space-related aesthetics to impact the graphic, web, interior, and fashion design industries in particular.

3. Mid-Century Modern Motifs & Illustrations

It’s not just the 80s that are making a comeback. Mid-century, a term used to describe the period roughly between 1933 and 1965, is certainly becoming a source of inspiration for web and print designers. While interior and fashion design have incorporated mid-century modern elements in waves during the last few decades, now we’re observing a more digital adoption and interpretation of those elements. Just take a look at some of the illustration styles and color palettes in use all over the web: Website Slider Interaction by iesight Design Studio Murakami and Cookies by Alexander Mostov Here are some graphics packs and tools that can help you achieve the mid-century look much faster:
Combine any of those with the right font, and you’re all set for an authentic mid-century revival:

4. Color Fonts

If you haven’t become familiar with the concept of color fonts, you might be missing out on a key design tool. We’ve discussed why Color Fonts are the next big thing in typography, and even how to create your own font, but it is truly in 2018 when this format will become incredibly popular. Why? Because the software enabling color font use has only just been released (I’m talking about Photoshop CC 2017/2018 or Illustrator CC 2018). Expect to see many more color fonts in development and use during 2018! In the meantime, here are some of our favorites from the marketplace:

5. Cinemagraphs

You may have noticed those subtle, almost imperceptible animations flooding the web — and social media networks in particular. Cinemagraphs, which we’ve covered on the blog before, are essentially very short videos with an almost static image where the first and last frames are the same, creating an endless motion. Here’s a great collection of cinemagraphs to look at if you want to get familiar with their possibilities:

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6. Scalable Vector Graphics (SVGs)

As designers, we encounter dozens of artwork file types during our lifetime. If you’ve designed for the web, in particular, you may have come across fixed-size file types like JPG, PNG, and GIF. As users shift to browsing (and doing pretty much everything else!) from their phones, we’ve faced the challenge of presenting information in a responsive manner. Ideally, we’d like to display brand messages in the friendliest possible format to appeal to those mobile users. When your images are inflexible, moving and zooming in on elements on the page to make it mobile-friendly can certainly be a challenge. That’s when SVGs, or Scalable Vector Graphics, come into the scene. The Caviar set, for example, includes SVG files that make all icons scalable While they’ve been around for a while, SVGs are gaining ground and will continue to do so in 2018. The first public draft of SVG was published in 1999 by the W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium. At their core, SVGs are text files with XML that tells browsers what they should render. Currently all modern browsers support SVG, and that makes it incredibly attractive for web designers in 2018.

7. Isometric Design for Icons and Graphics

Coming from a few years of flat design, it seems like the web design industry as a whole is making a conscious effort to distance itself from plain visuals and minimal interaction. Isometric graphics, whether static or animated, have become a way to add dimension without incurring in excessive load times. Isometric art is a way of projecting flat objects with layers in order to depict a 3D object on a plane. Check out some examples of unique isometric icons that have caught our eye this year:

8. Bold Modern Serifs

My personal favorite, this trend is reminiscent of the golden era of print advertising. If you’ve ever seen those full-page ads Ogilvy used to place in newspapers, the bold modern serif trend will strike a nostalgic chord. Source Truth be told, perhaps no other font category can convey the classic, everlasting presence that a transitional or modern bold serif can. We simply associate these font families with the evolution of the printing press, the birth of so many influential print publications, and a time when copywriting was incipient — and perhaps all the more inventive. A modern serif font in use on The Sill’s website

9. Wide Sans Serifs

Another typography trend to watch out for. There’s a recent revival of extended sans serif typefaces with wide letters, drawing inspiration from Italian design in the early 1920s or Swiss grotesque styles around the 1950s. Here are some examples of fonts drawing such inspiration from the marketplace:
Ace Typeface, developed by b.a.-b.a. in France. Sharp Grotesk, used in the most recent Dropbox rebrand.

10. Asymmetry, Memphis, and the Organic Grid

This is another one that feels more like a counter-trend. A movement in reaction to decades of constraint to a symmetric grid. Put simply, designers from various disciplines (web, print, identity, interiors, fashion, among others) are rejecting the idea that a layout needs to be contained by a rigid set of guidelines. This trend is evident in websites where the elements escape the page, content modules feature randomly placed containers, and asymmetrical shapes are scattered throughout. Look out for more and more of this rebellious style, which is also inspired by the Memphis design movement of the 80s. Campaign Monitor experimenting with the grid.
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About the Author
Laura Busche

Brand strategist. Creating design tools to empower creative entrepreneurs. Author of the Lean Branding book. MA in Design Management from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

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  • Very interesting. Thanks! 5 years ago
  • Things I've always loved are now trendy!Thanks for sharing.. 5 years ago
  • It's going to be a great year by the looks of it! 5 years ago
  • looks like we will have a lot of fun designing this year! Cannot wait! 5 years ago
  • Really enjoyed this post - thank you 5 years ago
  • why? why?? 5 years ago
  • Mid-Century Modern Motifs & Illustrations look so gorgeous :) 5 years ago
  • Anonymous
    I love cinemagraphs. 5 years ago
  • Yea, I don't really get these specific trends. Maybe the wide Sans... The isometric icons remind me of the Sims... and the color fonts - well I guess I'm just not there yet. 5 years ago
  • Thank you so much for the information and also the wonderful Creative Ruts challenge! 5 years ago
  • Very thoughtful! Enjoyed reading this article. 5 years ago
  • svg's will definitely take over, makes total sense, they look great on the web, surpassed it's taking this long to be honest! 5 years ago
  • Love what you've collected here! Thank you! 5 years ago
  • So interesting to read! I'll use these trends in my artworks =) 5 years ago
  • Thanks for the info! 5 years ago
  • "A movement in reaction to decades of constraint to a symmetric grid." Hee. My degree is basically IN asymmetry. Also, organic shapes. Maybe because I got it in 1983? 5 years ago
  • Great article! nice trends and design ideas! 5 years ago
  • Nice Blog! Thanks for sharing, Visual trends are an essential aspect of marketing for entrepreneurs and businesses. Using the newest design, imagery, and typography styles makes your brand appear contemporary to your customers, the marketplace, and to your competition. 4 years ago
  • I love Cinemagraphs. 4 years ago
  • it’s very informative blog thanks for sharing with us. 4 years ago
  • It is a very actual article and if a designer is aware of this trends, the works will be definitely wonderful! I've recently ordered a business card to and I could notice every point from this article in the final product! 4 years ago
  • Nice blog thank you for sharing with us. i like Brush Your Ideas design tool for poster and card design. i can customize my product their that's why i love it. 3 years ago
  • Thank you for taking the time to put these tips together it’s very much appreciated. 12 months ago