10 Illustration/Design Trends for 2022
It's fair to just preface this by stating that just because something is trending does not mean you need to dive right in and overhaul your portfolio to fit one or more of these trends. But, it is always useful to be aware of what is happening in the design sphere, and culturally in general. These may inspire you to freshen things up, or give you food for thought this year.
Another caveat; this is going to be mainly focussed on UK where I'm seeing these trends bubble up, as that's the market that I operate in. Therefore, these may or may not translate across the globe.
1) Maximalism - This design style is the antithesis of the minimalistic trend we know (and maybe love) that's not to say that classic minimalism is out, far from it, but these loud, busy and sometimes retro feeling aesthetics will definitely playing a role in the year to come, you may start to notice it everywhere.
It's definitely already becoming trendy in interior design, with fashion and graphics soon to follow. I'm wondering whether it's a natural reaction to a global pandemic and lack of stimulation and, well.. fun, that makes our eyes crave visual noise. Perhaps it feels less cold, less corporate and more light-hearted.
2) 2D/3D Illustration - The blending of the 3D/2D has already taken flight within the animation sphere with shows like Arcane being hugely popular toward the close of 2021. 3D illustration is definitely going to be everywhere, especially editorial, web design, apps and ads. A lot of the themes include abnormal bodies, thick shapes, and the chunky design that has been popular for some years now and is going strong, but this new format adds an extra dimension (literally).
3) Anti-design - When I first saw my Spotify 'Unwrapped' at the end of 2022 the design felt disarmingly bad. I went on to discover that anti-design is creeping in everywhere at the moment. I've started to see it in my Youtube ads, especially regarding fonts. This is a hot mess, perhaps reflecting how we creatives are all feeling going into 2022? Unpredictability, not following traditional design cues, and being visually chaotic, anti-design sure is...interesting. It definitely won't be to everyone's taste.
4) Curves, Semi-Circles and Postmodernism - Postmodern interior design is already making a come back, and whilst not necessarily my cup of tea, we are seeing wavy, wiggly lines everywhere, disjointed design features, and sculptural shapes everywhere. This is definitely something that in some small way we can consider incorporating within an existing design style as a way to mix things up. This new style influenced by postmodern design will be far fresher, usually including muted or less challenging palettes than its predecessor, and is usually mixed in with other aesthetics, cooling it down so that it doesn't look *as* much like an early 2000's DVD menu. Although speaking of the early 2000's...
5) Early 2000's inspired palettes/aesthetics - Unless you've been living under a rock you'll likely have recognised a revival of the Y2K fashion, well this also extends to design and illustration trends, informing palettes if nothing else. One of the huge driving factors of this trend as a desire to regress to childhood comforts and nostalgia, in light of the current somewhat oppressive world we find ourselves in due to a pandemic it's understandable why this light and fluffy aesthetic is gaining traction. Often popular with younger generations such as Gen Z who were not teen-agers or adults during the 00's.
This new wave will see pastel palettes, mint green and lavender seeming popular. Y2K art has postmodern influences as well as 1970's groovy influences. Groovy flowers, wavy lines all coming back around. As well as this, the kitsch and tacky are back too, peace signs, butterflies, child-like and naive. Often leaning into stereotypically feminine aesthetics, this design trend coincides with new waves of feminism that embrace femininity or reclaim female stereotypes. (ref; the popularity of books such as, Feminists don't Wear Pink and Other Lies. etc.) The palettes will often be softer than it's predecessors.
6) Escapism - A continuation of romantic, fantasy and cottage-core aesthetics. This one also feeds into a desire to revive a bygone era, taking inspiration from the romanticisation of farm labour and rural living, nature, growing fruits or vegetables. It can also be inspired by fantasy, fairy-tales, baroque, rococo palace or peasant decor. This design trend can come as highly embellished old-worldy aesthetics, or simple and rural. What these trends all have in common is a cosy, comforting feeling often utilising warm colours or earth tones providing visual escapism.
Escapism also ensures the continued popularity of fiction, especially fantasy and fairytale. With fairy-core and whimsical themes continuing to gain traction. This also coincides with the rise of thrifting and antiquing, buying vintage and older items as a form of ethical consumerism. We will likely see more people buying/displaying second hand, vintage children's books on instagram too.
7) Bubble and curved 'groovy' type/fonts - Harkening back to Y2K bubble writing and 70's groovy fonts, it's likely these typefaces will be popular in the coming year or so.
8) Collage, paper-cuts, paper textures. - I might be going out on a limb with this one, but I feel like Henri Matisse style paper cuts are creeping back in. I suppose this goes alongside some of the 'curves over geometrics' trend that we will be seeing. In fact, I just bought some paper cut artwork for my hall as I'm redecorating that space. I feel like those muted and pastel palettes will refresh this look to create something that's visually playful and simple for 2022. This is definitely something I think will translate into graphic design and illustration too.
The last 2 are going to be more focussed on children's book publishing (That's my sector, also I know many of you will want to know more about what might be popular within that sphere also!)
9) Picture Book Trends - Muted and warm tones will also be seen here. Earthy greens, browns, soft peaches and nature themes. Whilst humour and hijinks are high on the list, entertaining and uplifting books are in high demand, we are also seeing a continued relishing of aesthetically pleasing books, keepsake books and books that celebrate nature and the earth, kind and conscious living.
10) Simplism - especially in baby books, but even into picture books. Curved simplistic design, intentional colour palettes. Very simple, rounded and cute characters. With influences from Scandinavian graphic design/Modern Nordic, it is taking the simple forms and colours that make for engaging baby books and elevating them further. Picture books have been on the pedestal of illustrated children's literature for some time now, but I'm predicting that during this decade, a revival of the baby/board book format, with new, cute & merchandisable characters that harken back to the era of Miffy.
All images in this blog post fall under the fair usage act as are used for educational purposes. This is a non-profit blog. This blog does not seek to devalue the original creators. With credit to Dick Bruna, Marianna Coppo, Chris Chatterton, Paulina Morgan, Ana Sender, Freya Hartas, Ana Bianchi, Henri Matisse, Jess French. If you notice your design here, and wish for it to be credited or removed, please contact me at Lucy.firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you had fun reading about these trend predictions, perhaps in a few years we will look back and see if any of these were right! Will they influence your portfolio in the coming months or even years? They've definitely given me some food for thought.
As always it's important to note that individuality is always your biggest strength in illustration and design, so don't change everything that you do in order to fit into new trends. Keeping our finger on the pulse and being aware of how different design styles rise in popularity due to societal and cultural influences and reflecting on how that effects the visual world around us, (and by extension our social history) is fascinating to me. I love diving into and dissecting these shifting design trends.
I'd love to know which trends you're most excited about? Or is there something you've noticed bubbling up that I've missed?
As always, thanks for stopping by,