What makes a good design? An effective graphic design helps users understand your message, and also enables smooth navigation on your website or store.
An effective design also has a secret component that makes messages memorable and strengthens emotional connections between a customer and brand. This component is the shared emotional and ideological context between you and your audience; that’s why trend-watching is critical for designers.
In order to boost the performance of your projects in 2023, Depositphotos has collected and explained the major graphic design trends that will dominate this year.
Graphic design trends 2023: overview
In 2023, the world is not likely to become a more pleasant place for humanity, as environmental, economic, and political crises continue to intensify. Nevertheless, both consumers and creators will find comfortable spaces for themselves, where they can relax and temporarily forget about their current issues. These two tendencies were revealed in the 2023 Creative Trends Report by Depositphotos. This time, the research team went further and translated them into a more practical language — graphic design.
The seven graphic trends presented below can be divided into two categories: “escapist” and “brave”. The first group includes anime-style visuals, iridescent futuristic textures, and mysticism. Military-style packaging, clothing, and posters, as well as sans serif typefaces are examples of the second category.
1. Futuristic gleam
Best suited for technology products or services, or modern designs that provide customers with a next-gen experience.
To get a feel for this trend, watch retro-futuristic movies like Brazil or Blade Runner, or think of iconic games like Fallout and Half-Life: Alyx. Consider that there is a difference between the neon dystopia that was trending two years ago and the modern understanding of this trend. Modern futurism is optimistic, self-deprecating, and even kitsch. Check out the sculpture by Lady Gaga for Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 2005 and its promo campaign.
2. Expressive type
Best suited for posters, website homepages, and short announcements on social media. You can also use fonts “with a distinctive emotional message” for product packaging. In this case, consider that the text will be more noticeable than the background and illustrations.
Designers who are passionate about calligraphy, lettering, and creating unusual fonts are finally returning to the big stage. Although some “expressive” headlines may be difficult to read now, such fonts convey the mood of your product better than text. They also maintain user attention better and are more visually memorable. Just check out the new credit card and app design for Virgin Money.
Best suited for products that target Millennials or even younger generations. Anime evokes a positive sentiment in those who admired Naruto Uzumaki and L Lawliet as children or teenagers. Younger generations also respond positively to anime aesthetics, as they are attracted by its lightheartedness and optimism.
The modern fascination with classic Japanese animation is part of a more complex creative trend that we noticed in 2022 — Y2K aesthetics.
Note that, in terms of graphic design, anime is not all about big eyes, small mouths, long limbs, and limited frames per second. It’s also about highly atmospheric and detailed backgrounds, flat graphics, stark colors, cartoon-like facial expressions, and straightforward messages. Anything can be translated into the language of anime. Take the “Flora Fantasy” commercial as an example.
4. Sans Serif revival
Best suited for large texts, including product descriptions, label texts, recipes, articles, and social media-based guides. The advantage of this spacious and clear sans serif type (for example, Helvetica, Futura, or Arial) is its high readability.
Serif fonts are more visually heavy, but they are known for speeding up your reading. In turn, the clean lines and wide spacing of sans serif fonts make texts look minimalistic, allowing you to add illustrations to them without overloading your layout. If you are dealing with multiple lines on a colored background, use this approach. A good example would be news websites such as CNN.
5. Mysticism imagery
Best suited for designs related to customer products. It can be advertising, packaging, social media posts, or even brand identity in general. The use of mystical symbols or mysterious amorphous elements creates a dreamy atmosphere that influences potential clients, offering them new exotic experiences.
Mysticism in design works well when you’re reaching out to a client in real life (store or public event) or through an immersive project leveraging AR or VR. Use mystical symbols that you understand well, so as not to confuse your audience with blurry visual messages. As inspiration, we recommend taking a look at Astrology Club on Spotify.
6. Military-inspired aesthetics
Best suited for product packaging and website design for practical goods. Military style utilizes camouflage colors and simplified typography while being brutal and straightforward. If you want your audience to perceive you as a determined, strong, and courageous brand, turn to military aesthetics. The style is also suitable for covering projects related to war or providing aid to victims of war.
Our top tip is to stay away from the military style unless your visuals have a deep war-related message behind them. Consider that the emphasis on war can be traumatic for people who have experienced it first-hand (for example, Ukrainians). More on this topic: How to communicate your brand’s stance on the war in Ukraine: Key learnings from brands.
At the same time, camouflage and military paraphernalia can be used as symbols of the struggle for freedom and the protection of civilian populations, so they can add a heroic and even optimistic context to your messages. Example: United24, the official fundraising platform of Ukraine.
7. Tribute to the outdoors
Best suited for games, promotional videos, and visual concepts for mobile apps and websites. However, you should not limit yourself to them, as the trend will suit almost any product, especially if it is positioned as eco-friendly or encourages a person to spend more time outdoors.
In 2023, consumers value the time they can spend in contact with nature. Moreover, they want to support brands and initiatives that are beneficial to biological diversity or pollution reduction.
Try to add more “nature” to your color palettes, interface elements, and website or product packaging decor. Bring your brand experience closer to the experience between man and nature. A great example is Patagonia’s official website.
Graphic design trends are only the starting point of your creative search. Our goal was to save you time researching uprising concepts, but how you utilize them is completely up to you. We do recommend starting with a style that best fits your product’s brand book and testing how your audience responds to the visual changes.
For more information on images and creative approaches that have potential in communication this year, check out this article on how to use creative trends to stand out.