9 Spicy Graphic Design Trends For 2023 & How To Use Them
Trends can have the smallest beginnings, emerging as a single clever idea before capturing people’s imagination and snowballing into a global phenomenon. Because of their organic nature, trends are notoriously hard to predict. But with enough data, and by keeping an eye on the trendsetters in an industry, we can get a reasonable idea of what will become popular and what will fall by the wayside.
In this article, we examine some of the biggest potential graphic design trends for 2023, based on what the trailblazers are doing, what the experts are saying, and the major global events that influence people’s ideas.
Table of contents
- Experimental typography
- Visual escapism
- 3D design
- Logo simplification
- Natural shapes / fluid design
- Dark designs
- Bright, jarring colours
- Candy colours
Graphic design trends for 2023
1. Experimental typography
The very purpose of text is to be read by someone, so legibility is usually a major priority for typographers who design fonts. But legible text can also be a bit boring, especially for headlines that take up large portions of a design, so some typographers like to design fonts that are highly experimental, playing with shapes, textures, and colour to create something truly unique and eye-catching. This urge may have become stronger in the wake of our turbulent recent years, which is one reason why experimental typography is a clear design trend for 2023.
Technology isn’t going anywhere, and companies will keep trying to wrench our attention towards their products and services. Experimental typography can make us sit up and pay attention; suddenly faced with a block of text that is weird and wonderful, representing the character of the company using it, which may also reflect aspects of our own character. It breaks standard visual convention, just as lockdowns, isolation, and travel bans have broken convention for all of us.
2. Visual escapism
Visual escapism is an art series by designers Minjin Kang and Mijoo Kim, who work out of Mue Studio in New York. They wanted to achieve surreal dreamlike spaces that blur the boundary between fantasy and reality. Though the images above aren’t from the designers themselves, they capture the essence of the art style—soft gradients and colouring, natural lighting, large bodies of water, gorgeous simplicity, and a sense of serenity.
Graphic designers can use this style to create peaceful, calming designs that may be appealing for audiences who are struggling with anxiety (in Australia, this is about 2.7 million people1), and offer reprieve from unjust wars that threaten global security and add to our stress. Someone who appreciates this design may have the desire to temporarily escape from the difficulty of living, gaining relief for just a few moments. This can be an incredibly powerful urge, which is one of the reasons we think it will become more popular this year.
3. 3D design
3D effects have been used in graphic design for decades, but it’s only in the last 10 or so years that they have become more accessible to designers. The increasing power of computers combined with 3D modelling software like SelfCAD, Maya, and Modo have made 3D designs much easier to make, and we expect this trend to keep surging upwards in 2023. This includes 3D typography.
Despite being deep into the 21st century, 3D design still has a futuristic feel that can be associated with advanced technologies, state-of-the-art services, and innovative ideas. Depending on its context, it can also come across as paradoxically retro, as shown in the image with the old style vehicle above.
As for the aesthetic elements of the style, you can expect clever lighting effects, a strong sense of texture (e.g. glossy), and objects that seem to float above their canvas.
4. Logo simplification
If you look at the history of graphic design styles, you’ll notice a trend towards simplicity. The original styles tended to be busy and ornate, and the latest contemporary styles much sharper and cleaner. This evolution isn’t fixed, so we may see a return to the chaotic styles of Art Nouveau or psychedelic design, but for modern brands who want to display a particular image to their consumers, simpler appears to be better.
This trend towards simplicity may be seen by tracing the changes of the company’s logos throughout the years. You can see three examples above of recent logo changes, with the original logos using gradients, more colours, and curved or jagged shapes, and their modern replacements using fewer colours, cleaner fonts, and a sense of clarity. This is a practice of minimal graphic design, which has become one of the most common art styles for modern businesses.
5. Natural shapes / fluid design
When we see straight lines and sharp angles in a design, we might think of things that are unnatural and man-made. You rarely find these kinds of shapes in nature, which is filled with spirals, loops, and waves of infinite variety, immortalised in the spider’s web or the diminishing spirals of a snail’s shell. So when a graphic designer uses these fluid shapes in their design, they are suffusing it with a sense of the organic; of the big outdoors, and every magical thing to be found in it.
Nature soothes us. It can make us feel calm, joyful, and creative, and might even boost our concentration. So by using natural shapes in a design, a graphic designer may evoke small samples of these emotions in their viewers, and create effective web designs, advertising, and other important marketing materials.
Because these shapes are close to nature, they can also work for a brand who wants to portray their commitment to fighting climate change, and helping to preserve our precious planet. A company’s mission, vision, and values can be communicated through their choice of colour.
Doodles are playful, fun, and a little bit childish. They drain the seriousness from a brand’s website, product packaging, and advertisements, and force you back to the school table where you squiggled your way through daydreams instead of listening to your maths teacher.
As digital illustration tools become more widespread and easy to use, designers are able to incorporate more awesome little doodles into their work, even creating full-blown doodle styles like in the image with the drinks above. They can take inspiration from legendary doodlers like Alexander Pushkin, Samuel Beckett, and John Keats, forming their own unique style of doodling that blossoms in 2023.
7. Dark designs
Dark designs have always been cool, but fell by the wayside in favour of the more legible combination of white background and black text. This recently changed with the introduction and subsequent popularity of “dark mode” for mobile phones, which reduces blue light exposure in the evening and helps people to sleep better.
So dark designs are back in a big way. If you’re a regular user of mobile apps, you may have noticed darker designs becoming more popular recently, as app designers jump on the bandwagon and create slick-looking software for their clients. And because mobile phones are so popular, you can expect this trend to leak into other areas of graphic design in 2023, like product packaging, advertising, and even the aesthetic for entire brands (outlined in their brand style guide).
8. Bright, jarring colours
As with experimental typography, bright and jarring colours can effortlessly snatch your attention and force you to look at them, which is one reason we think they’ll become more popular in 2023. They can be surprisingly beautiful too, in a chaotic, unnatural kind of way.
The colours used in this design style can be reminiscent of psychedelic design, where vivid hues overlap and warp into each other to create bizarre visual effects, which feels like your eyeballs are fighting each other. It’s a striking and daring impression that can work extremely well for hip brands who aren’t afraid to experiment. And yes, we just used the word “hip” without irony.
To help select jarring colours, you can use a colour wheel chart and select some that are far away from each other. We also have a few highly contrasting schemes in our article on aesthetic colour palettes.
9. Candy colours
As the world emerges from its lingering pandemic, moods are starting to lift, which can have an effect on the colours that artists (including graphic designers) use. Rather than opting for depressing greys or melancholy blues, they might find themselves reaching for a sticky-sweet selection of vibrant pinks, fluorescent greens, glowing yellows, and other candy colours that evoke memories of spontaneous play; of running full-pelt towards the playground and getting to the swing first.
Candy colours are unquestionably joyful, and could be a response to the chains that the virus shackled to us. They are a great way for a company to make a bold statement about their mood going forward—we are playful, fun, and we’re here to have a good time, so come along with us.
On the other hand, there has been a major war in Ukraine, which has shaken the world and led to spontaneous protests in plenty of non-Ukrainian cities. So the candy colours might be on hold, or if the war ends quickly, emerge towards the latter end of 2023.
Thanks for reading—we hope you learned something new. If you’ve settled on a graphic design trend to use for your own images, and you want to learn how to get those images to rank highly in Google, check out our article on SEO images.
- Statistics – Beyond Blue, Beyond Blue