Graphic Design Trends: What’s Coming in 2022 + Expert Tips

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We were all wrong when we thought we would celebrate the end of COVID-19 in 2021. 

This year, we saw how the lingering pandemic took a toll on everyone.

For visual designers, it shifted the way we communicate and express ourselves as a brand or individual.

The past year’s events paved the way for psychedelic design reimagined, bold and experimental designs fueled by a clamor for change and intentional communication. We also saw how social media presence is crucial for brand survival, and how the desire for brands to be authentic is stronger than ever. 

With all the uncertainties, it’s difficult to predict the upcoming graphic design trends.

Instead, let’s take a closer look at how emerging trends in graphic design will shape marketing, reporting, hiring, and even how we communicate as humans. You’ll also learn about the common thread that binds these trends.

On top of that, you will learn graphic design tips on how you can apply these trends to your presentations, reports, infographics, and social media content. 

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2022 will be a year of creative pragmatism

Creative pragmatism is the common thread across graphic design trends in 2022. We will see bold, expressive, yet purposeful and intentional design. 

As a graphic and communication designer who’s made it through the wild rollercoaster of a ride this year, I will draw a picture (with words and visuals this time around!) of what I interpret as creative pragmatism.

What is creative pragmatism?

Creative pragmatism is a concept from two opposing ideas: creative and pragmatic.

Creativity sparks the imagination, which means being bold, expressive, and inspirational. Meanwhile, pragmatism means being realistic based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

The uncertainty plus the gloom and doom vibes of the pandemic has led to The Great Resignation. Employees have reached their breaking point, making them rethink their work and life goals. 

The workforce, including creatives, is yearning for purpose and meaning at work. At the same time, after all the isolation, people are starting to realize that staying connected matters more than anything. 

This is how we arrived at creative pragmatism.

It describes a bolder, expressive approach to design but with a more meaningful purpose to communicate.

Here’s how creative pragmatism will shape the following graphic design trends in 2022: 

an infographic about graphic design trends in 2022
Graphic design trends 2022

1. 90’s Retro futurism icons

Creative pragmatism has brought back the retro graphics and stickers of the 90s with some psychedelic influence!

The psychedelic style, often associated with the hippie movement and surrealism, is getting a new purpose as they now carry a brand message.

Expect to see these eccentric, fun, smiley icons all over social media. It’s easy to spot this trend because of their authentic, bold, and hand-drawn style.

90s retro icons
Icons for Yandex.Zen by Tatiana Komarova
stickers with psychedelic influence
Conference Call Sticker Set by Rebecca Astheimer
retro futurism stickers
Stickers by Laura Nunes
Free Trippy Icons & Stickers set (100+) by Multiple Owners
retro social media icons
Social Detox – The Digital Detox App by Romy Haucke
retro playlist cover
Oasis – Go Let It Out by Rhox
90s retro doodle design
Camp OSCO 2021 by Doodle By Meg

How to use and incorporate 90’s retro futurism icons to your visuals

Use icons and stickers to express both brand and individual personality while communicating your brand message at the same time.

Next, combine them with your fonts of choice to create brand awareness, whether it’s through your product packaging or social media posts. You can even incorporate this trend to your business flyer design! Take a look at some of the examples below.

retro brand identity example
KAKLEBI MARKET – Brand Identity by Nicole Belskaya
retro packaging example
Organic Superfood by Fahrenheit 32
retro futuristic flyer example
Trendy Black Friday Flyer Layout by Aiyari Graphic
futuristic festival example
Sommer i Norge – festival by Multiple Owners
retro food icons example
Food icons set kids by Antonia Pavez Parra
an example of psychedelic inspired stickers for business
Diseño de identidad “POPI NAILS” by Antonia Pavez Parra
infographic with 90s retro icons

2. Abstract asymmetrical background and patterns

Heavily influenced by the retro style, expect geometric backgrounds and patterns to stay in 2022. 

example of geometric art
Geometric ART by Neo Geometric
example of a grad show invitation with geometric patterns
Big Picture Gradshow Identity by Shanti Sparrow Design
event invitation with geometric patterns
Tbilisi Mall – Graphic Style by Multiple Owners
example of geomatric patterns done by a design studio
X Studio by Vicine Studio

In 2020, the geometric pattern style was made popular through Abstract Geometry, and the popularity continued to rise in 2021. With the influence of creative pragmatism, expect to see more creative usage of icons to come up with abstract, asymmetrical patterns

socks with geometric shapes
Etiquette by Rubber Mirror
branding with geometric patterns example
Kariiou – Branding Project by Toormix Design Agency
coffee shop branding with geometric shapes
AMANO Coffee Stores – Branding by Bill Pappas
workshop invitation with geometric patterns
One Spark by Steve Wolf
brand book with geometric shapes in the cover
Nuvi Branding by Brian Collier
store products with geometric patterns
Central Tejo Museum | Store Products by UMA Brand Studio

How to use and incorporate abstract asymmetrical patterns and geometric shapes to your visuals

These patterns are so versatile that you can use them to accentuate your company profile, business pitch and proposals, and even your annual reports design. Take a look at the examples below.

Pro tip: Create geometric patterns by repeating one (or more) basic shapes like squares, triangles, and circles for a unique and seamless design.

example of an annual report with geometric shapes and asymmetrical patterns
Global Gender Gap Report 2021 by Kasia Bojanowska
annual report template with geometric shapes and asymmetrical patterns
billboard with geometric shapes and patterns
Strina Crowdfunding by Multiple Owners
brand visual identity with geometric shapes and asymmetrical patterns
Mountain Club by makebardo
world bank annual report with geometric shapes and bold colors
Annual Report – World Bank by Salman Shahzad

3. Radical contrast

“A diverse and distinctive range of colors connects our need for calm and comfort with free-spirited optimism and joyful adventure,” foresees the Pantone Color Institute in their color trend forecast for New York Fashion Week’s Spring/Summer 2022. 

What are examples of radically contrasting colors? 

Think of colors on the opposite ends of the spectrum that look good when you put them together: blue and yellow; purple and pink. 

example of a radical contrast
O Meu Lugar by Kenzo Hamazaki
example of a printable with radical contrast
Experimental Project_DH001 by Dennis HSU
example of a book cover with contrasting colors
Almanaque Bate-bola #1 by Paula Cruz
holiday gift guide poster with radical colors
Holiday Gift Guide for Refinery29 by Leena Kisonen
another example of a visual with radical contrast
日常观察 / DAILY* OBSERVATION by 陈 俊贤

How to use and incorporate radical contrast to your visuals

Radical contrast best represents creative pragmatism. This color scheme simultaneously brings personal expression and mindful design, making it the perfect choice for your infographics, research report, and the landing page you’re planning to redesign in 2022.

an annual report cover with radical contrast in its color scheme
annual book design using radical contrast
Tales from Spectrum Annual Book Design by Shanti Sparrow Design
state of funding report using radical contrast
LBQ 2020 Report by Carolina Aboarrage
printed annual report with radical contrast
Annual Report 2020 “Harm reduction service delivery” by Katerina Voloshyna
wall poster with radical contrast
Compact size, boundless expression by Josh Warren
example of a handbook with radical contrast
Handbook Wunderman Thompson New York by Anthony Mena
example of a company brochure with radical contrast
FiestA Radio – Company Profile Brochure by Febrian Nathanael
report example using radical contrast
The State of Presence Report by Mano a Mano
retail report example using radical contrast
Reputation Report Cover Designs by Brian Collier

4. 2D & 3D mashup and character illustrations

We have all witnessed how 3D graphics took over the web and social media throughout 2021. The 3D graphic trend is still ongoing and evolving, while 2D hand-drawn illustration makes a comeback.

With creative pragmatism, designers and creatives combined the two styles, and that’s how 2D & 3D mashup styles are born. This mashup brings together the freedom and authenticity of 2D illustrations and the sense of realism in 3D illustrations. 

example of illustration with character illustrations
Motion Pro by Multiple Owners
example of a 3D illustration
3D Illustration for Altrüus Gifting App by Igor Pavlinski
example of character mashup
Character Plan | Youth Players 街头玩家 by Vincentoby H

How to incorporate character illustrations to your visuals

While 3D style will dominate the web, scenario illustrations are the go-to solution for sharing brand stories in graphic and video formats.

character illustrations in a website
Archlet Website, Illustration by NICKVECTOR
character illustration example by CooperVision
CooperVision | 40 Years of Wear by Multiple Owners
character illustration example for a website
Website for DataScientist Bootcamp. SkillFactory by Aleksander Kirshin
teamwork character illustrations example
Teamwork illustrations by Maria Maldonado
example of a poster with character illustrations
The misunderstood role of water in conflict by Multiple Owners
an example of illustration with 2D and 3D mashup
Illustration#04 by Xinyue Song

Scenario illustrations typically highlight characters performing a particular action. The 90s’ retro futurism style will heavily influence scenario illustration style in 2022.

an example of an infographic with character illustrations
example of a book cover with scenario illustrations
Climate Handbook by Joseph & Sebastian
book chapter with scenario illustrations
GBL Beyond Research by Multiple Owners
website homepage with scenario illustrations Homepage by Sulton Handaya
example of scenario illustrations used in a blog post about people with disabilities
Benefits by Erikas
example of a landing page with scenario illustrations
Landing Page — Webflow in 2020 by Corey Moen
an example of an annual report with scenario illustrations
Illustration cover for Keolis annual report by Fagostudio

5. Experimental typography

The typography game is evolving in 2022! You’ll notice this trend in movies and TV shows like Loki and the Squid Game, which have incorporated typography in their poster design.

photo of Loki poster with experimental typography
Loki poster
photo of squid game poster with experimental typography
Squid game poster

How to use and incorporate experimental typography in your visuals

How can you apply creative pragmatism in typography?

Play with different fonts and incorporate shapes or photos to your text. It’s a playful way to visualize your brand vision or create an eye-catching poster!

example of a poster with experimental typography
Everything Matters by Fabrizio Morra
example of a visual identity using experimental typography
DESIGN to WEB by Jacek Janiczak
example of visual assets with experimental typography
Poosh by Nice People
example of packaging with experimental typography
©EASTCOTTON 東棉 Packaging and presentation by simin xiu
example of a large poster with experimental fonts
Peace by Lucas Matheus
example of brand identity with experimental typography
Happysad Brand Identity by Outer Studio
example of art direction board with experimental typography
Art Direction Board by Hrvoje Grubisic

Serif fonts are also gaining popularity in 2022. You will notice that most of the fonts used for experimental typography style are serif fonts. That’s because serif fonts have high readability and distinctive characteristics. As a result, they’re the perfect fonts to experiment with while still valuing practicality.

Looking for the best fonts for your presentations in the coming year? Read our Guide to 14 Fonts That Make Your PowerPoint Presentations Stand Out

example of christmas icons with experimental fonts
OH OH OH – Xmas Icon Set by Cristina Zilio
example of homepage with experimental fonts
TIDES Agency Home by Vlad Shutikov
travel poster with experimental typography
Typography Exploration: Neue World by Pangram Pangram no.2 by Ana Sakač
example of editorial magazine with experimental fonts
CLAIRE — Editorial 004 by Rron Berisha
example of brochure with experimental typography
Schinkel Pavillon – Landing by Marko Cvijetic
vacation poster with experimental fonts
Blaise Cepis by Hvorje Grubisic
example of an event poster with experimental fonts
Antonioni Beyond The Dome by Carla Cabras
editorial photo with experimental typography
Trend Monster by Ben Johnson
example of poster with experimental fonts and smileys
an example of infographic resume with experimental typography

6. Interactive data visualization

With data visualization as a crucial skill in the coming years, people are taking data visualization techniques to a whole new level. Say hello to interactivity! 

example of an interactive annual report
MRG Annual Report 2020 by Multiple Owners
example of data visualization in a book
Madrid en Cifras 2020 by Romualdo Faura
example of data visualization in ranking governments
Good government by Gov | DNA

With the rapid development of VR and AR technology, expect data visualization that you can experience in person next year. BadVR refers to it as “stepping inside your data”. 

screenshot of BadVR's homepage and slogan - step inside your data

You don’t have to follow every trend

It’s a wrap for our take on graphic design trends that will take 2022 by storm. 

These trends say a lot about humanity’s hunger for connection and search for meaning. It’s something we look forward to as well here at Piktochart! 

Where do you think 2022 will take us in terms of graphics and visual design? 

Which trends are you looking forward to using in your infographics, annual reports, videos, and presentations?

On a final note, it’s totally okay not to follow any of the trends we’ve just mentioned!

It boils down to creating graphics and visuals that will truly resonate with your audience, whether it’s trendy or not. 

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