Our Favorite 2021 Graphic Design Trends

Jun 16, 2021

A collection of graphic design trends that we’re liking and perspective on balancing inspiration with originality


A trend is defined as a general direction in which something is developing or changing.

Today, the visibility and application of graphic design is only continuing to increase as the internet becomes the hero medium of how we see and experience content. Because such a variety of content is created and released daily from countless artists and creators, graphic design and its trends are constantly shifting. Of course, aesthetic is subjective, as everyone has a different taste in art and style. But because of how easily we can see and share work online, graphic design trends can appear and change very quickly. What I think is unique about trends in graphic design specifically, though, is the visual evolution of trends in graphic design, and how certain trends can return with clearly visible modifications.

“Anything you do let it come from you, then it will be new. Give us more to see”

There are pros and cons for graphic designers when it comes to the rapid nature of seeing and sharing work online and in our community of creatives. We are encouraged to create original work and set trends, rather than follow them, so that our work stands apart from others and wins the attention of those who consume it. But if we do not seek out inspiration and keep our finger on the pulse of what people are paying attention to, there is risk of a missed opportunity for a viral or at least well-received piece of work. As quoted in “Move On,” a number in the Broadway musical “Sunday in the Park with George,” inspired by the French Pointillist Painter Georges Seurat, “Anything you do let it come from you, then it will be new. Give us more to see” speaks to how we can certainly allow ourselves to be inspired but always filter our inspiration through our own personal touch and it will be new and stronger that way.

Trending Now: 5 Trends We’ve Highlighted from 2021

1. Ownable Brand Illustration & Line Art

 Inspiration notes:

  • Combination of block colors and empty lines
  • Organic shapes (curves, spheres and rounded rectangles)
  • Fluid motion in both 2D static work and animation
  • Geometric Shapes

brand illustration

Example by Vladimir Gruev

customer experience

Example by Tran Mau Tri Tam

2. 2D Layering with Photography and Flat Graphics

Inspiration notes:

  • Merging of photography and flat design, creating a foreground and background
  • Scrapbook-inspired layouts
  • Use of gradients combined with flat design

graphics and photography

SaaS Online learning community by Emy Lascan

graphics and photography

Example by Stan Yakusevich

3. Nature Inspired Design

Inspiration notes:

  • Natural elements whether abstract or real
  • Natural color palettes
  • Playful, living energy

nature inspired design

Example by Right Studio

nature inspired design

Example by Supernova Design

4. Emoji-Design

 Inspiration notes:

  • Utilizing well-recognized iconography but applying original styling
  • Creates a relatable reaction and a response
  • Communicating common feelings in a tech-forward, easily translatable approach


emoji design

Example by Ibán Ramón & Example by kissmiklos

emojis gif

Example by Algirdas Jasaitis

emojis on a phone

Example by Leo Natsume

5. Simple Geometric Shapes

 Inspiration notes:

  • Abstract and confident – simple yet memorable
  • Playful while also clean
  • Allows for strong color story

geometric shapes

Example by TomaszPawlo023

geometric shapes

Example by Matt Palmer

Creative Color Combos

In my opinion, colors don’t particularly ever go “out of style.” But certain color combinations can definitely feel representative of a time, mood, place or climate. For instance, it might be tough to give off anything other than a retro 80s vibe if your palette includes hot magenta, Prince-purple, electric blue and bright teal. If the color is right for the brand, then it’s in-style. Below are some unique & trending color combinations to try for your next project:

color comboscolor comboscolor combos

Sources: https://s.muz.li/N2ExNjg1ZmQ0


Hot Takes from our Art Directors

I asked our Art Directors here at MACLYN to choose a recent piece of inspiration they’ve admired and why. Here’s what they shared:

Mike: “What inspires me is coming across a new artist who is doing something I’ve never seen before with such a high level of jaw-dropping craftsmanship. That’s the case for me with artist Stacey Lee Webber.”

instagram image

Eddie: “I love watching time-lapse videos of animators working. Dima Tkachev (@dimaphew on IG) is one of my favorites. Here is a fun logo animation he created for Oreo.”

Rebecca: “I think the convention of illustrations and photography working together is always great, and this Soltan sunscreen campaign was so successful with it. It’s a technique that can be executed indefinitely as there are so many photography and illustration styles that therefore allow for many original interpretations of this approach.

graphic design examples

Erin: “Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with Disney, and one thing that always inspires me is the community of Disney artists and creators out there who are making such cool work. Whether it’s illustration, content creation, or videos, it’s inspiring to see how different people who all share a similar interest can translate that into being creative in so many different ways.”

disney illustration

graphic design examples

Sourcing & Saving Inspiration

I don’t have a lot of space for a large bookshelf at my Lincoln Park apartment. But my bookmarks bar is brimming with tabs (if web pages could get worn the way book pages did, the below pages would be falling apart). Here are some of my favorite go-to online resources for graphic design trends & inspiration:

Written by: Rebecca Cravatta, Art Director

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