The Most Popular Graphic Design Trends of 2016

Let’s take a look at the most popular graphic design trends of 2016.

Trends, fluid by nature, no matter how transient they are or how deep-rooted in our pop culture they might be, don’t have a predetermined life expectancy. Constantly evolving, graphic design trends became more and more popular in a gradual manner. Living their short or long lives simultaneously in various domains until they, without much notice or fuss about it, fade away leaving room for the next generation of trends. Flat 2.0, geometric shapes, bold typography, motion, print-inspired, modern retro, abstract Swiss, minimalist logotypes, hand drawn illustrations ñ all have made an impression this year.

As we’re getting closer and closer to the end of this year, I think it’s proper to take a look at the most sought-after graphic design trends of 2016.

Flat 2.0


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The offspring of Flat Design, this trend has come a long way and it looks like itís here to stay for even longer. This particular style is defined by a focus on bold typography (which is also a massive current graphic design trend by itself), negative space, simple shapes, bright colours, subtle shadows, and no depth. The clean aspect, apparent simplicity and maximum clarity that separate Flat 2.0 from the earlier Flat Design style have allowed flat lay to make itself a favourite not only in UI design, but also in pattern design and illustration.

Influenced mainly by minimalism, adaptable and multifaceted, Flat 2.0 can be easily combined with photography, drawings, and even motion. While still remaining an eye-catching style that guarantees efficiency in terms of high usability and a faster loading time.

Dramatic Typography


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Using tools such as the Glyphs app, which make font production easier and cheaper, Flat Design has opened the way for statement typography. As we are witnessing what many call the golden age of typography, it’s all about creative playful sans-serif typefaces, letter stacking, and vivid statements.

With tools such as Adobe Typekit, Google Fonts, and high resolution screens, web designers have now, more than ever before, the possibility of using bold typography for the creation of more type treatments. Throughout 2016, dramatic typography has not only helped boost online viewer engagement, but has also made a distinguished mark on print media. It’s safe to say that we’ll see more of this trend in 2017.

Retro Nouveau


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As we all have noticed, 2016 has been a big year for reboots. So it’s no surprise that UI design has also caught the nostalgia bug. Separating itself from the vintage trends that we’ve seen here and there for the last couple of years. The New Retro style gets its inspiration from the 70s/90s period, being influenced by design patterns specific to that timeframe and, of course, arcade video games.

Modern Retro graphic design is characterised by pixilation, bright and flashy colours (loads of colours), bubbly slab serif typefaces, flat elements, and geometrical shapes. Although simple, New Retro is more than effective, constantly making its way into different mediums like advertisement, poster design, and fashion.

Bright, Bold Colours


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In keeping with the 70s/90s period, bright, bold colours have featured heavily this year. The graphic design trend of retro styles are inspired by the 80s and 90s, The Memphis Group, and arcade video games. The use of neons, and richer, more saturated colours have been dominant across multiple forms of design. This is shown here with Pantones Spring 2016 Colour Report.

This striking design style is making a comeback in interior design, fashion, and graphic design. Whether it be for print, for the web, or for packaging, Neo-Memphis design is definitely something all graphic designers should take note of. And with it’s eye catching graphics and bold colours, it’s hard not to take note.

Geometric Shapes


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Geometric shapes and patterns are a motif that aligns with some of the 80s-era trends we’ve already looked at. This one can be applied in all sorts of ways, as individual graphic elements, as backgrounds, as an illustrative technique.

Also keep an eye out for a style known as low poly, which got its start as a 3D modeling technique for video games. This angular, faceted look will continue to show up outside the gaming world, in web and print projects.

So there we have it, 5 of the most popular graphic design trends of 2016. Let’s see what 2017 brings us!