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12 Graphic Design Trends That are Stealing the Light in 2021

Design evolves with time and so do graphic design trends. A design has the potential to shape perceptions, change how we think, and also impact how we buy. As more and more businesses move online and digitization is not optional anymore, design, type, and content, in general, are becoming much larger priorities for businesses to gain a share of voice.

The graphic design industry has played a pivotal role in shaping everything from vaccine and inoculation campaigns to public service messages and driving business for both B2B and B2C selling. While we discuss graphic design, some trends made a comeback from erstwhile years as a tribute to nostalgia while others made a fresh debut. All in all, the content we get to consume became more immersive, striking, engaging and is giving us a welcome relief from the times that we live in.

Stay with us as we round up the graphic design trends that are making a statement in 2021.

3D Illustrations

3-Dimensional anything offers a sense of depth and realism. With the rise of augmented reality and many tools at disposal, illustrators are presented with endless possibilities to up their game, and they are doing so by creating near-to-real illustrations that help rouse interest in viewers. As the virtual reality drive tries to smudge the line between the virtual and physical realms, these illustrations are acting as guiding agents, promising us of a futuristic world.

Organic Design

With netizens around the world being overtly concerned about the impact of our existence on earth and making it a point to be more sustainable, the same has found its way into the design industry. While products are packed using more easily degradable material and re-usable plastic, designs everywhere are also incorporating more earthy colours, botanical elements, organic shapes, and natural textures to add a tactile element to the design creating a sense of belonging to Mother Earth. These warm and welcoming visuals with neutral colour palettes containing tones of oranges, browns, blues, and greens, are helping viewers reconnect with nature.

image showing organic design with a pastel orange background and crudely drawn patterns and blocks. showing organic design from graphic design trends of 2021
Image credits: Envato

Read more about organic design here

That brings us to the next biggest trend of this year-

Muted Colours

After a chaotic journey through 2020, it is but natural that one expects freshness and relief in the content one consumes. Add to that the want for minimalism and we achieve muted colours. A muted colour palette is achieved by mixing white and black to hues. They offer a more calming visual experience and a sense of serenity, security, and even nostalgia to some extent. Mostly incorporated in the backgrounds, they offer more room for experimental design by not grabbing attention. Be it a line art or a 3D illustration, one can never go wrong with a muted background.

image showcasing 2 cosmetics bottles that have been coloured with muted teal and orange from graphic design trends of 2021
image credits: 99designs

Read more about colour trends in 2021 here


With a mammoth amount of data presented to us in the form of charts, facts, details, and other information, it can get quite overwhelming and confusing if not presented aptly. Infographics, although a long-used term, has taken a new shape in 2021 with more immersive and easy-to-relate designs. The next time you find illustrations, icons, and stylized texts in a chart or an infographic, you know where this is coming from!

an infographic image showcasing various data pertaining to the coronavirus infection and the human body from graphic design trends of 2021
Image credits: Graphicmama

Read more about infographics trends in 2021 here

Video Content and Social Carousels

We see a rise in consumer interest towards content presented in the form of videos, thanks to the popularity of Tik-Tok followed by Instagram reels. Businesses and content creators are leveraging this opportunity to find and engage viewers. On the other hand, slide decks, a.k.a, carousels are also being popularised. Owing to their ability to say more in less, this method of content presentation has offered an exponential increase in engagement.


This oxymoron style of design is a back-to-basics approach that has rerouted itself to be not-so-basic anymore. While finding inspiration in the past and incorporating elements from modern-day design, graphic designers are trying to play with the nostalgia aspect by introducing serif fonts, vintage colours, and an overall handmade, craft feel. Photo-illustration collages are the epitome of the same. Pictures that have been manipulated to incorporate letters, icons, text, and graphics are making an impactful presence online.

image showcasing design that is a combination of modern and vintage design languages with black and white characters placed in a modern layout from graphic design trends of 2021
Design by: Kalwe Rzeczy

Jewel aesthetics

Seamless design decked with precious stones held together with a classy, gold finish is what you can expect to see in the premium goods market. A colour palette that incorporates accents of emerald, ruby, sapphire, as well as fluid gold is ruling the design world of this industry to create a massive luxury feel.

Geometric Shapes

In contrast to abstract, flowy, designs, geometric elements are raving the design industry in 2021. With rigid corners, they make a much bolder statement. Did you know that a traditional art form in India, called the Warli art, makes use of geometric shapes like the circle, square, and triangle to represent elements such as the sun, moon, mountains, humans, cattle, etc?

image showing various geometric shapes laid out together to form interesting designs from graphic design trends of 2021
image credits: Visme

Serif Fonts

In other news, designers have welcomed the classic old serif fonts with open arms. They have for long been associated with seriousness and in turn with trustworthiness. Businesses are using these typefaces to create an important, impactful aesthetic. Whether wanting stability in these unpredictable times brought back the serif fonts or a drive down the memory lane did, we are glad to see a welcome change from their light-hearted sans-serif counterparts (no hate).

image showing typography design purely made out of serif fonts.
image credits: envato

Psychedelic Designs

These ultra-modern, experimental designs are full of chaos and in all the right ways. An attempt towards futuristic design, these are mesmerizing, surreal, and very, very enthralling. However, these seemingly audacious and simulating artworks are not particularly crazy. In 2021, we see a method-and-madness approach towards psychedelic designs where bold motifs are combined with organized placement to create a daring yet impactful statement. Optical illusions, intensive artworks, contrasting colours, and bold representations are all screaming one thing- the future is here!

image from dope coffee showcasing colourful psychedelic design on a coffee bag
image credits: Dope Coffee

Inclusive Design

Over the past few years, we have seen many instances when the online community decided to be more inclusive of people from different races, colours, gender, region, etc. Voicing the opinions of suppressed or ignored communities, the graphic design industry has entered the world of inclusive design. Incorporating rainbow colours in creatives as well as illustrations including a diversity of people and pictures of models and influencers from the LGBTQ+ community has helped raise awareness among all and helped people embrace their identities.

image showcasing characters of various ethnicities and skin tones together in the form of toys.
image credits: amritpaldesign

A similar stunt was performed by Google in its Beta 1 version of Andriod 12. A feature they introduced by the name “Material You” lets people customize their experience to suit their personalities.

We have written a detailed blog about everything else that Android 12 has to offer from a user-experience perspective. Do give it a read!

We couldn’t be more grateful for this design trend and we hope to see more of this in the coming years! These trends are offering a fresh breath of air in 2021 and like always, the graphic design industry is working on its toes to offer an impactful and lasting experience for all.

Have you noticed any of these trends in the visual content you consumed recently? Which one is your favourite? Let us know in the comments section!

The Purple Papaya Blog

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