ILLUSTRATION

Illustration and
Design Trends 2022

As a creative studio, we understand more than most how the world of design is constantly evolving. Influenced by fashion, technology and art, on-trend illustration has the potential to set your brand apart from your competition.

If you’re looking for some much-needed inspiration or can’t quite figure out which style suits your business best, we’ve got you covered. Here are some illustration and design trends set to dominate the market in 2022 and beyond.

- 01

3D Design

3D has always endured as a popular trend for illustrators and designers alike, but it’s really having a moment right now. While 3D character drawings appear on apps, websites and within animation like there’s no tomorrow, the NFT situation is also fuelling 3D popularity. Nintendo 64 fans will be happy to hear that their favourite character styles are returning with a vengeance, now in new varieties such as 2D, holographic and candy-colour designs. 

3D realistic illustration is also soaring in popularity right now. Initially used to replicate real-life objects, this fundamental trend is enjoying a comeback in 2022. Skeuomorphism – the ability to represent an object in its closest possible form to the real-world object – allows brands in the digital marketing space to sell like never before. Even products that are difficult to photograph can be brought to life through this innovative and creative technique. 

Watch out for more 3D trend arrivals, including the refreshing blend of 2D and 3D combined. As an upward trend in 3D design formany years, this style continues to evolve and grow in popularity. From highly realistic 3D visuals that combine both digital and physical elements to mashups that mix 2D graphics and paper cutouts, we’re bound to see more of this in 2022.

- 02

Disproportionate Body

When we see the same old characters time and time again, things can begin to feel a little boring. Disproportionate body illustrations are the antidote: designs that feature humans with unrealistic body partsizing. Think oversized hands to emphasise action, tiny heads on large torsos and a rejection of the standard facial structure. This trend is all about standing out from the crowd and appealing to the contemporary consumer – completed with a mix of neutral and pastel palettes. They’re fun yet calming, perfect for switching things up without taking too much risk.

- 03

Inclusive Visuals

Since the Black Lives Matter movement shook the world in 2020, every industry has been faced with calls to become more diverse and inclusive. The design world is paying attention to identity more than ever before, ensuring that everyone is well-represented. From a brand perspective, inclusive visuals have the power to elevate and uplift brand representation, too, appealing to audiences with a strong social conscience. In illustration form, this trend usually features icons and characters that don’t shy away from race, gender or a variety of body types – reaching a much wider pool of people.

- 04

Shapes

Graphic design would be nothing without the use of shapes, but certain staples rotate in and out of fashion. With the 2000s dominating style trends right now, it’s unsurprising that we’re seeing a bubble shape resurgence in 2022. Infused with fun, these shapes reminiscent of high school signal a desire for excitement and positivity, created mainly using soft circular shapes. Exaggerated through elongated forms and psychedelic colours, this trend is most often used for products or branding targeted at a younger audience. 

Geometric illustration is also dominating the design field right now as designers get creative with various sizes, shapes and colours. Most finished work featuring geometric shapes focus on creating pattern, elevating the illustrations with a more cohesive look. We’re bound to see more of these in 2022, put into action on hero banners, social media posts and modern packaging design. 

Another shape trend we’re seeing emerge back into the mainstream is post modernism. Dating back to the 1970s, this recognisable theme combines curves, semi-circles and rounded shapes, often combined with a pastelor muted neutral palette. It first emerged in response to the sleek chill of modernism, offering a warmer and more feminine approach. Post-modernism reigns supreme for beauty, fashion and interior brands alike, particularly dominatingthe mainstream Instagram feed at present.

- 05

Textures

In the graphic design world, textures are finally making their comeback. While they were initially phased out for the ease of print compatibility, the digital age has made space for texturised designs to thrive once more. From fluffy backdrops to realistic product branding, this trend empowers designers to inject life into their work and add a completely new dimension to their illustrations. We’re bound to see more of this in 2022, particularly as the use of digital immersive experiences continues to become increasingly popular.

- 06

Minimalism

While maximalism is remerging from the sidelines, there’s no doubt about the power of minimalism’s enduring popularity. Modern life can be hectic, and audiences continue to be appealed by simple shapes, smooth lines and basic, digestible designs. Neutral palettes dominated the initial trend, but colour is now being paired with minimal design to create a completely unique look while opening up more creative possibilities. 

It’s impossible to mention the minimalist trend without touching on line art. Infiltrating the world of packaging design, interiors and even tattoos, thin-line designs are bound to remain popular for years to come. This simplicity is the antithesis of bold 3D illustrations and it will certainly be interesting to see which trend comes out on top in 2022.

- 07

Animation

With video reigning supreme as the most popular form of content, it’s no wonder that animation is making it’s way into main stream marketing strategies. To make the most of video’s potential, illustrations are now being animated more than ever before, allowing brands to convey their unique brand story to wider audiences. Many types of illustration are used in this way, but minimal outline work or basic 3D characters are the most favourable options. Completed with bold text and some catchy music, this trend has big potential to make a memorable mark on the design industry.

Additional Trends to Watch Out For…

While the 7 we’ve listed above are the key trends on our radar for 2022, there are a few more you should be aware of. This includes: 

NOSTALGIA DESIGN– reusing pattern, shape and style from eras gone by. Most popular eras for resurgence in 2022 include 2000s, 90s and 70s retro.
CANDY COLOURS– the natural next-step for pastel popularity. These colours are slightly brighter, perfect for contemporary audiences desiring fun and simplicity.
PSYCHADELIC– the 60s are back and they’re here to stay. These bright colours and abstract prints are a nod to counter culture, ideal for out-of-the-box branding.

As trends come and go, one thing is sure: powerful branding through illustration and design is a must-have for any successful business. Learn more about our creative services by exploring Tosh Design today.

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