Inspiring graphic design trends for 2023
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Making graphic design predictions at the start of the year is often akin to a kind of approximation. Major trends change too little in time and inevitably what was announced for one year often remains true for the next. It is also very difficult to be exhaustive and to cover several areas of graphic design (UX, print, web, social networks, animation, font design, video, etc.). Also most of the posts are locally translated from English sites, but the result should be nuanced according to the different regions of the world. In short, depending on your profession, your sector of activity and your region, you will have to make allowances and not accept everything as one big truth.
I am a Senior Artistic Director at WAT Paris and administrator of this personal graphic blog since 2007, a privileged position to observe graphic trends, more particularly in Europe and North America. During 15 years, I have received a few thousands of portfolios and have contributed to the promotion of several emerging artists.
Really new graphic trends?
Although everything evolves quickly, a graphic trend takes a few years to emerge and then be recognized. But time does not exist in the context of an argument, you must illustrate your point and cannot say “you will see”. Indeed, what you show is more important than what you say. So when it comes to 2023 trends, inevitably we rely on work carried out in 2022 or 2021, so it is not that much about predictions.
What you show is more important than what you saySir David Ogilvy
If a graphic trend interest you, and you want to defend it, is because your job places you as a privileged observer. Your position as an expert allows you to identify the trends allowing you to stand out from the crowd and the ones that are already obsolete because they are used everywhere, or others that are far too early and difficult to gain acceptance. In short, your critical thinking matters more than anyone else’s at the proposal stage. Your responsibility then consists in implementing it and then defending it with subjective criteria (I like it, it’s aesthetic, it evokes interesting things) as well as objective criteria (it works, it’s understandable, it’s impactful) . Finally, appropriating a trend is already legitimizing it, it exists because you use it, then because others also seize it.
That’s why it seems more interesting to me to choose a small number of trends and explain where they come from or what their specificities are in order to give them meaning and depth, so you can summarize them in a few words, eventually something will remain.
The surge in newly available technological resources has AI-generated art and digital tools globally more accessible, and the promise of improving productivity is enormous, but there are also uncertainties and controversies. On the other hand, it is certain that the relationship between people and brands is always and again questioned. Over time, there are great difficulties in creating links, innovating, in proposing convincing personalities, in favoring narration, humanity, authenticity and originality. From a graphic point of view, this come to the search for reassuring emotions and original creations. In short, when it comes to image, we call on the pros!
It is also possible to remedy this through familiar, comfortable codes from the past. The “handmade” and the craftsmanship are valued there, the artists find their place there and are defended, the talent makes the difference: vintage graphics have not said their last word!
It’s like a curse to always draw on the past, especially to talk about the future, but it’s a granted curse as it comes with nostalgic pleasures or carefree and tasty evocations of the “good old days”.
bitmap fonts, raster fonts or pixel fonts
Reminding the first video games, the 90s and particularly basic in their design, “pixel fonts” have long been considered old-fashioned, even unbearable in the eyes of graphic designers. We see them coming back in the press, on the web, the networks, in short everywhere! They are chosen to talk about crypto-currencies, NFT, Metaverse or more simply about digital, innovation.
Why such a comeback?
Let’s take the example of an article about the future of cryptocurrencies, whatever the tone used (expert or educational) we can rely on a known graphic register – the pixel – to immediately evoke the digital. The contract thus established with the reader consists in guiding him in his reading using familiar graphic cues, the text being supposed to bring new, unexpected or more “futuristic” information. Once again we show what exists, we write what does not exist. Many graphic designers have understood this need and have had fun designing more up-to-date pixel fonts: they are sophisticated, including many variations (bolds, italics, etc.) and become very appealing.
All styles of comics or cartoons illustrations are welcome in 2023. Since the beginning of the 20th century to the 1960s, comics and cartoons have been inspiring. Among the various styles of cartoons the “rubber hose” was the first, its name comes from the fact that the characters had limbs drawn as flexible black tubes, without articulation. Quickly replaced in the 1930s by Walt Disney and his more detailed drawings, the “rubber hose” nevertheless marked the collective imagination. In recent years it has been inspiring artists again, whether for music videos, t-shirts for skaters or editorial illustrations. This bold, vintage style, associated with more contemporary codes can give singular and rather cool results.
Several trends seem to come together for a seventies revival: bright color gradients and the presentation of logos or other symbols in the form of stickers. Whether they are real vintage stickers or digital stickers used for social media stories, they are a fun opportunity to animate an image, personalize a medium or convey a message. For a long time the stickers were accessible and original images to personalize our objects (helmet, computer, bicycle…) and everyone has kept this desire to stand out from the crowd very easily, a kind of “popular tailor-made” with a little rebellious side: badges or stickers, same fight.
Today stickers are digital, animated, realistic or abstract. But their physical equivalent is also making a strong comeback, with a single watchword: pleasure. To have impact you’ll favor tailor-made images with unique colors. Holographic stickers thus have a strong power of seduction, it is a question of providing an impactful and memorable pleasure. To offer an emotion is always to create a memory.
For several years, stretched letters and distorted typography have flooded the media… well, it is still relevant in 2023, with traditional font designs with distortions that seem limitless.
the revolution of tools
2022 was marked by the appearance of new tools – or the improvement of existing tools – marking a turning point in the era of graphic design, organization, collaboration and also content creation. AI has established itself as an accessible novelty arousing all curiosity. Multiple apps or plug-ins are now able to save precious time, for more accessible budgets than before. It seems obvious that 2023 will bring us lots of novelties…
After the idea of collaboration pushed by Figma or Notion, it is Apple’s turn to offer with its latest system, the “Freeform” application, a collaborative content aggregation tool, intuitive and more powerful than the already very good “Milanote”.
On the AI side, a lot of creations or development, whether you are for or against, you have to admit that these tools are coming in force… with controversy (especially on copyright) but also a few hopes…
To be continued: ChatGPT (conversational chat able to perform research, write content, correct code, etc.), Whisper (voice recognition), OpenAI Codex (translates language into code), GitHub Copilot (translates language into code), InstructGPT (generates text by following instructions), Text-to-product (designing products from text), AI slides (different tools for creating presentations), DALL.e 2 (creating images from text), Midjourney (creating images from text), Stable Diffusion (creating images from text), Runway videos (video editing tool), Email AI, AI chrome extensions, Replit Ghostwriter, No-code AI app builders…
That’s all, thank you for having gone through these lists to the end. If you have a remark, a question, please leave a comment… Cheers.