The Graphic Design Trends That Will Dominate 2022 (infographic)

Each year, we speak to the global community of freelance creators working on 99designs by Vista to get their predictions for the design trends set to dominate in the year to come.

And as we set our hopeful sights on 2022 for the fresh start that this year perhaps didn’t quite deliver, our collective pent up creative energy is starting to unleash interesting ways.

While some of us have searched for comfort in the pre-pandemic past, others have sought out experimentation, adventure and rebellion. As a result, the design trends shaping up to be influential in 2022 are a complementary marriage of the old and the new, the familiar and the unknown.

INFOGRAPHIC: Graphic design trends in 2022

Making the past the future

While the 80s have certainly had their time in the sun (again) in recent years, the retro revival has now firmly entered the next decade. 90s nostalgia is well and truly back, delivering a sense of comfort and familiarity with bright colors and busy patterns, classic emojis and dated internet frames reminiscent of an era dominated by a young cyber culture. These nostalgic design elements are playful, simple and reminiscent of childhood memories that subconsciously alleviate some of the heaviness and overwhelm of the last year.

Credit: Iconic Graphics on 99designs by Vista

And that’s not the only early millennium style we’re seeing taking hold. You may recall pre-2000, that the world was concerned that it was doomed to be destroyed by technology when the clock struck 12:00am on 1 January 2000. When that proved to not be the case, design reflected the optimism that anything is possible and once again, this hopefulness for what lays ahead has seen the Y2K aesthetic hurtle back into popular culture. Using unpolished interfaces, low poly CGI, bubblegum pinks, blue and iridescent colors, just like the back of old CD-roms, these kitschy designs are full of endearing and innocent nostalgia.

By TikaDesign on 99designs by Vista

But these old-school-cool vibes aren't the only trends coming back from the early internet age. The ‘Frasurbane’ style, named after the 90's American sitcom Frasier and the word “urbane”, is 2022’s version of minimalism, featuring muted colors, carefully arranged design elements and simple, sophisticated serifs. It may be less visually exciting or in-you-face than other styles of its time, but when done right, it feels endearing and sophisticated, striving to be both adult and maintaining an element of youthfulness.

Image credit: Terrapi

Finding light at the end of the tunnel

To combat the dreariness of 2021, graphic designers are increasingly inserting brightness and their own personality into their work. In 2022, we’ll see that manifesting in bright rounded graphics and bubble-like lettering, inflated with elongated forms and psychedelic colors to create designs that are friendly and joyful. Irrepressibly positive, circular shapes are effective methods of conveying friendliness and this extreme bubble design trend manages to feel mature with a hint of childishness - just the kind of vitality-infused fun most of us need right now.

Credit: sasha a. on 99designs by Vista

Also capturing that child-like essence, we’re seeing an increasing number of designs featuring hand-drawn style doodles giving an uninhibited glimpse into the abstract mindscape of the designer. Daydream style doodles may look simple at first glance, but their softness is effective at making designs feel more human and relatable. These freeform-feeling, organic designs can also help digital design feel more approachable, so expect to see this softer style gaining traction across everything from product packaging to websites throughout the coming year.

By Fe Melo on 99designs

Fighting design norms

While some designers are looking to be playful and emanate joy through design, others are going against the grain by embracing anti-design in 2022. This is all about turning conventional design norms on their head – questioning what is considered “good design” and challenging traditional principles through the use of asymmetry, clashing colors, blank space, jumbled elements and jarring typography. While this past year has been largely about following the rules, this anti-design trends is about anything but.

Image credit: Bodriggy Brewery

Perhaps a touch less dramatic, but no less experimental, we’ll also see plenty of expressive and experimental lettering designs pushing the boundaries of typography. Typefaces are generally used functionally, to communicate a name or message but in 2022 designers will be using the lettering design to convey meaning on its own, without the need for other visuals. Think shapeless, mismatched letter forms and mind-bending shapes that walk a fine line between legibility and abstractness. Just like anti-design, the main rule of this trend is there are no rules.

Image credit:

Innovating with textures and patterns

Patterns are standard in graphic design. While they often serve a supporting role, as a background or to break up solid colors, in the year ahead, parametric patterns are being promoted to being the star of the show. Grounded in geometric rules, these designs consist of intricate, multi-dimensional structures that give the illusion of movement and fluidity, creating an innovative way to communicate complex subjects with minimal graphical elements.

Credit: V E R I T A S on 99designs by Vista

Flat vector work is also being brought to life in 2022, taking inspiration from Ukiyo-e artists of Japan’s Edo Period. You’d likely be familiar with one of the most famous artworks of this style, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. Featuring bold outlines, flat colors, Ukiyo-e has been used to depict everything from serene landscapes and mythical fantasies to everyday scenes and portraits.

This style of printed artwork using hard-carved woodblocks enables them to add dimensions and layers to breathe life into digital vector work to create Ukiyo-e inspired flat design.

By LittleFox on 99designs

Escaping from 2021

If it wasn’t already evident, after almost two years of stay-at-home orders, designers are ready to let their creativity run wild. Diving deep in their imagination, designers look to intricate magical fantasy lands as a form of escapism in reaction to a time when real life adventure has been limited. Creating worlds that people can get lost in, filled with stimulating surroundings, whimsical characters and unexpected colors, these designs truly spark the imagination.

Credit: Mila Katagarova on 99designs by Vista

In an equally vibrant display of experimentation, intricate maximalism also sees designers bringing a little creative chaos to design in 2022. Even bold styles like maximalism tend to have some rules, but this year those rules are out the window and the result is so much more than simply being the ‘opposite of minimalism’. Expect designs that look more like smorgasbords of clashing styles and tastes featuring plenty of obscure objects, colors and patterns with the result being an aesthetic that will captivate and enchant the viewer. While intricate maximalism can risk coming off too loud or too much, this aesthetic feels powerful and liberating when channeled in the right way.

By Ega Elanda on 99designs

A revival of angsty, 90s Grunge also seems to be a reaction to how out-of-control the world has felt recently. In contrast to the more vibrant aesthetics and flat graphics of the digital age, this style oozes moody energy. Distinguished by its gritty textures and stark imagery, with splashes of ink and splotches, expect to see plenty of indie zine-like collages and textured elements like tape, torn pages and scribbled writing that give designs a rough, hand-made feel.

By semnitz on 99designs

While these trends are all unique, together they feel so significantly part of this era we find ourselves in. Without a doubt, 2022 will be unpredictable, yet as far as graphic design goes, one thing is certain - it’s going to be quite a ride.

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