Monochromatic color schemes, luminous metallic aesthetics, and typography madness—those are so last year! Indeed, those designs were iconic and have helped the design community stay inspired, considering how odd 2020 was. And that is only an understatement. Let us move on to a fresher perspective with the latest design trends that make you feel like you just won 2021.

It has been reported that the graphic design industry is set to grow 5% more from 2016–2026. Its growth is as quick as the average jobs, meaning graphic designers are one of the most in-demand jobs out there. From connecting with the audience through marketing to boosting sales, visuals are more than just grabbing people’s attention through colors. And using the trendiest designs can surely make a difference.

According to Gensler, “Design responds to a changing world.” So when design trends change, we are given a chance to reset annually. We were used to the futuristic and avant-garde elements in previous graphic design trends. Now, what makes 2021 special? Designs range from elements of nature, classic representations, to fine arts add-ons, making it conspicuous that the latest craze is to be more grounded than ever.

Without further ado, take a look at the top 10 trendiest creative designs you should look out for this year:

10 Free Creative Designs for 2021

1. Symbol Revival


Are you familiar with those majestic goddesses, stoic lions, and other celestial objects? The classic symbols are now back! Yes, various shapes and colors are known to symbolize something universally. One example is the red octagon which is generally a traffic stop sign. But designers in 2021 are now more concerned with symbols that are empowering. Go for symbolic elements that transcend languages, manifest resilience or power, and more.

To make the symbol revival recognizable for 2021, add a modern touch too. For example, you create new designs that resemble that of a talisman as a way to get rid of the bad luck for this year. And if you have an aspirational icon you want to incorporate in your design, do so.

2. The Calm Minimalist


Let’s be honest. Since when was minimalism out of style? Visual minimalism has been relevant for 60 years. Both its relevance and message are still the same—to make a statement by showing less. Saying that less is more is a timeless concept but with a little twist for 2021, we now focus on keeping the design serene. Neutral colors with meditative art are encouraged.

Since 2020, working from home has grown rampant. And it is only fitting enough to add the calm minimalist vibes to make your space more tranquil. You can’t deny that working from home, staring at your computer screen for hours, or even worrying about when the pandemic ends can be stressful. But with muted color palettes and the comeback of 90s minimalism, the vibes may change.

3. Transcendent Psychedelia


If you are fond of the 1960s, then you would know that both the art and music industry was so heavily influenced by psychedelia, which refers to the artistic experimentation with hallucinogens. While 2021 welcomes earthy palettes, the psychedelic design focuses more on intense colors. Abstract art is associated with psychedelia where the colors and optical illusion arrangements may drive you mad.

What makes transcendent psychedelia creative is its ability to give different feelings. The strong colors and complex abstractions give different viewpoints for audiences—making it an effective way to grab attention when you add marketing to the recipe. Who knew distorted shapes and relentless colors in design could expand minds?

4. Pop Art Craze


Let us take a trip back to memory lane where we used to collect comic books or see ads with grainy colors and speech balloons. The comic and pop art craze which was a notable art movement in the mid-to-late-50s will also dominate this year! Back in the old days, comic prints involve halftones or dot shading for their colors. Now that modern minimalism is a thing, you can incorporate grainy textures into your graphic designs for more motion and a dramatic effect.

Check out those vintage comics you used to have for some inspiration. You will surely notice the grainy effects and strong inking such designs have in common. Hence, aim to create visuals that go along with postmodern art in a comical or satirical interpretation of pop culture. But no, this does not mean Comic Sans is trendy!

5. Slide Decks


Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms are already pioneers of sharing slide decks. Also known as a pitch deck or a presentation deck, a slide deck is merely a group of slides that are combined to share information. And when it comes to graphic design, slide decks are the best tool to share longer messages instead of one visual post only.

One of the most effective ways to use a slide deck is by explaining how a small business owner can become successful from scratch. And each image in that deck will run in a series of steps. In short, it is like a how-to article but expressed in one group of images. The challenge in slide decks is to ensure you can tell a story in an organized way with the use of visuals.

6. Easy-to-Read Data Visualization


Designers would eventually come across visualizing statistics and other types of data. Instead of overwhelming your audience with hard data, data visualization should manage the opposite. Designs must be easier to understand until you won’t have to put so much effort into explaining the context of the data.

If you have been keeping track of the COVID-19 worldwide dashboard since 2020, then for sure, the up-and-down measurement of infected cases led you to visual statistical data. And since we are already in a time where endless data are being circulated daily, keeping these visualizations simple is crucial for effective communication.

7. Text-Driven Videos


We started 2021 by continuing social distancing. And as we still work remotely, video shoots and other video-related content are still challenging. Thankfully, designing with text-driven videos can make it easier. In fact, most of those who work at home communicate with co-employees through text messages, emails, or chats rather than talk personally. Hence, it is no surprise that text-driven videos are part of the design trends this year.

Using on-screen text to communicate also lets you get more creative by using motion graphic templates. Pure text without any aesthetic factor is dull, which is not what 2021 is supposed to be going for. And if you need a pro tip: always go for brief but informative content. Long texts with no sense of direction are a no-no!

8. Retrofuturism

What better way to experience something nostalgic and new at the same time by combining retro and futuristic elements into graphic designs? Vintage-inspired motifs have been a thing lately, including the emergence of Y2K vibes. To achieve retrofuturism, aim to emphasize more on bright colors and shades. The same goes for advanced typography that feels like we are going into another timeline.

Retrofuturism refers to how people from the past envision the future. And a more polished retro perspective is a smart way to bring nostalgia into your brand. Imagine bringing something familiar to a design but also adding elements you find to be new. That is an ingenious idea.

9. Fine Art Add-Ons


Incorporating the concept of fine arts into your graphic designs is so in this year! Gone are the days you have to live by the conventional rules of fine art and design. Imagine mixing acrylic paintings, abstract expressionism, and elements of nature to your designs. An art fusion of different elements can certainly transform into something worth looking forward to.

Why use paintings, you might ask? Such designs bring depth and value to your visuals. And it would be even better to make designs that look more realistic as if you could touch them with your hands. With that said, fine art add-ons work better with tangible things to your designs. You can even make a simple item look more extravagant, like how special packaging works.

10. Socially Conscious Designs


It is a year for change, and you have to be socially aware already including how you create your graphic designs. Art can be made for a protest like in designing face masks for pandemic preparedness or being part of the Black Lives Matter movement. With the rise of activists, social justice warriors, and the cancel culture, you can be called out easily for an offensive design. So don’t be ignorant by being socially conscious.

Designing to prevent people from being offended does sound like a challenge. But ignoring how people react can make you a victim of the cancel culture. People have the power to speak out on social media or even invite other people to sign petitions and share posts. Thus, doing some research about what is considered offensive or not should be part of the designing process.

Moving forward—designing should always have its fun factor no matter what the latest trends are. In fact, you can come up with a hybrid of designs instead of applying one trend at a time. So get out and make the new year better by following these top ten design trends above!

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