So… it’s that time, yet again. With each passing year, we all instinctively look back on our actions over the past twelve months. The over-critical amongst us tend to promise ourselves that next year will be the one where we finally find our feet, and truly begin to be the best possible version of ourselves.
If you are one of the millions of young people finishing up your degree in graphic design, then firstly, congratulations; your efforts over the past 18 months will not go unnoticed by your prospective future employers. Those made of weaker stuff gave up a long time ago. On the other hand, you may also be wrestling with the difficult decision of just how to put your creative talents to best use, with so many things now coming under the umbrella of graphic design.
If you are already a seasoned member of the industry, are you happy with what you are doing? New trends are appearing all the time, and if you are yearning for a change, there is no shortage of opportunities available.
Whichever camp you fall into, keeping your skills up to date with the latest in industry trends is essential if you want to keep on top of your game; if you want to bag the best roles, be given the most interesting tasks, or for the self-employed, land the most interesting and lucrative contracts, it is time to ask yourself: Am I ready for 2022?
Key job titles requiring the best graphic designers
Each year we see new trends in cinema, marketing, mobile apps, animation, print media, websites & online media, just to name a handful, as well as their constituent parts; think fonts, photography, and user interface design, for example. In the 1980s, computer programmer was a commonly advertised job vacancy; today, this would be hopelessly generic – the same is true of graphic designers.
Whether searching for your first role or searching for your next challenge in the graphic design industry, consider how your skills could be used in:
- Production Artistry
- UX Design
- Multimedia Design
- Layout Artistry
- Front-End Web Development
- Page making (Book/Magazine Design)
- Art Director
- Teacher of Graphic Design
There are many more, too – the key here is not to pigeonhole yourself, and cliché a saying as it may be – think outside the box when it comes to searching for your next challenge. Learning about which trends are likely to be popular over the next twelve months and combining such knowledge with efficient use of resources such as royalty-free stock photos, fonts, and open-source software will allow you to leapfrog ahead of the competition in this increasingly crowded space.
You might think that every possible style of font that could exist already exists, but you would unquestionably be very, very wrong. Designers keep on redefining the letters and symbols we look at each day, and whilst such things might seem trivial to some, the best graphic designers know all too well the power that simply changing the typeface being used can have on the effect of the message being presented.
Sometimes things will settle down for a while, but early indications are that 2022 will be a year of great change in the appearance of the fonts we encounter in our everyday lives.
- Thick Strokes are seeing a revival in brand logos, commanding attention through wider lettering styles that promote emphasis and are easier to craft into unique shapes than the thinner, lighter typefaces that have dominated in recent years.
- The digital age has seen handwriting all but disappear from most daily interactions, so much so that the imperfect scrawl of joined up handwriting is now being seen as “sophisticated” once more, and, just like signatures, is allowing brands to develop a more personal identity than generic typefaces ever could.
- Font “Emoji-fying” is a term being used by some to describe online logos and headings that morph between multiple different styles at once. Whilst there are obvious similarities to animated GIF’s here, this technique, also known as “font morphing,” is intended to be more subtle and used sparingly.
- Rounded Fonts are a staple of children’s books but have also been a favorite of street artists for decades. The popularity of street art in recent years is now pushing big, rounded corners to the covers of women’s fashion magazines and other areas where you’d never have dreamt of seeing them prior to 2021.
Website design has grown into a much more interesting mode of expression now that the capabilities of HTML5 and CSS3 are finally being used to their full potential, combined with the absolute dominance of WebKit and chromium-based browsers across all platforms.
- Memphis Design is a term likely unfamiliar to young graphic designers, but older folk may recognize the term from its heyday in the 1980s. Memphis is a rejection of minimalism – something perhaps sorely needed in today’s endless sea of uniform-looking sites, instead embracing color and adventurousness.
- Typographic Hero Images have already become common on some categories of landing page, reversing the adage that a picture can tell a thousand words. If what you want to say can be expressed in just a few words, why not make those words big, bold, and inescapable?
- As touchscreen devices overtake traditional computers as the primary means of people using the web, we should finally begin to see these alternative form factors used to their full potential. Large-scale animated interactions could become commonplace, replacing the passive nature of endless scrolling.
- Graphics tablets are nothing new, but the disconnect between the display and drawing surface made them more of a novelty than a serious artist’s input method. Apple’s Pencil and wider S-Pen support from Samsung has created a trend for hand-drawn website elements that looks set to continue in 2022.
3. Print Media
The tendency of companies to try and unify their branding across all forms of media may suggest that we will see similar trends evolve in print media throughout 2022 as we will on the web. That being said, there are definite differences of opinion between highly respected publications as to what the new years print media trends could be, and we may well see different demographics being targeted using significantly different styles.
- Colorful minimalism is a phrase that has been mentioned in numerous authoritative graphic design magazines recently. The style is illustrated using simple geometric shapes, a limited color palette that seems to focus on pastel shades, and the complete removal of anything not absolutely necessary.
- The term “infographics” has recently been trending as a way of referring to various new ways of visualizing large data sets in ways that help people to conceptualize the scale of the numbers that they represent. If conventional charts with logarithmic scales confuse you, don’t worry – help is on the way!
- Psychedelic design last had a true heyday way back in the 1960s, so seems ripe for a full-on revival sometime soon. Some people believe that 2022 will see a trend for this type of crazy, abstract, excessively colorful illustration, in complete contrast to the “new minimalism” trend mentioned earlier.
Marketing teams will combine elements of all the previously mentioned trends, no doubt, but we are likely to see some existing marketing-specific trends continue to amplify further throughout 2022. Here are just a handful of examples:
- Inclusivity – no matter how far we think we have come in the West, there always seems to be another incident right around the corner to prove the finish line is still a long way over the horizon. Thankfully, marketing teams are no longer just using people of color as token symbols of their commitment to diversity, and are instead using people of all shapes, sizes, colors and creeds to help drive home the point that their product is for everybody.
- Illustrations have long been recognized as being infinitely more useful than simple texts for marketing on a worldwide scale – a good drawing or diagram can be understood by a larger share of the world’s population than anything written in a single language. Younger people – often described as “Gen Z” and “Millennials” – have been witnessed having entire conversations using nothing but emoji. Keep your eyes open for popular emoji’s being turned into products or hijacked for brand promotion– you’ll be amazed how fast this trend is accelerating.
- And finally… it had to happen eventually. 2022 is predicted to be the year that the trend for “branded memes” takes off in a big way. A funny meme can spread across the globe in a matter of hours, and if you can associate your business with that meme in a positive way … let’s just say, it is near-impossible to value the promotional benefits of something like this.
Graphic design affects every area of our daily lives in 2022, making it difficult to gauge just how far to go with this kind of article. We haven’t touched on the likely trends we might see in animation and cinema, for example, which are likely to see a major resurgence this year as production work (hopefully) ramps back up to full speed on several large-scale projects that have now suffered almost two years of constant delays.
As a final note, whilst each year undeniably flies by as we get older, it is an eternity in terms of so many other things – including, of course, graphic design. Taking a special interest as the calendar switches from one year to the next is important, no question, but also keep your eye on the pulse all year round too – the biggest trends will often swoop in out of nowhere.
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