The great trend is authenticity.
Recently I was at a meeting where somebody asked what were the current and modern trends in graphic design for print and web.
The time did now allow me to answer properly. Here is my answer:
There will always be trends in graphic design, but you should ask yourself some questions about other things before you decide to follow them.
Some years ago the world saw the rise and fall of shadows and
«3D»-effects in graphic software like Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator.
Graphic Designers (myself included) jumped on this shadowy-bevel-and-emboss-merry-go-round like children who had been locked up in a grey room for ages, deprived of their tools. Indeed, we must take our great share of shame and guilt for having taught the layman «designers» of the world to fall in love with these addictive effects. Now we wake up and recover from this trip on extremely funny, but seldom very useful and always very CHEESY effects, only to see that a lot of people have still just started their party!
We may regret in assisting ADOBE in pushing these drugs on everyone and their grandmother.
While the last guests to the Photoshop Effect Ecstasy party still have not discovered that the blowout is over, the sun has already risen high above a FLATTER landscape, where icons and buttons, without even the slightest beveled edge, sits on their non-gradient and pattern-less backgrounds like innocent nuns on hard church benches. The pendulum, surely, will NEVER stay in the middle but swing from one extreme position to the other.
This is no surprise. In fashion, the skirts have been going up and down in regular cycles for years. Some years the jeans look like ballerina tricots; the next several yards of fabric go into a single leg.
The purpose of this? To make us buy new jeans every year because we fear not being «modern».
We want to blend in. It’s safe. We don’t want to get involved in any explaining of an individual way of dressing.
In the book Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, graphic designer and author David Airey, among a lot of very true and excellent advice, says: «DON’T MAKE FASHION!»
I remember when reading this sentence my shoulders dropped several inches.
There is, both among buyers of graphic design and indeed among the divine designers themselves, a fear of not «being modern enough».
Both clients and designers are chasing FASHION in graphic style, and doing so reflects what? Fashion. Which will be out of fashion in 6 months. To be fashionable is not the big purpose and challenge of graphic design. It may even be said to be partly counter productive to the idea of graphic design and visual branding, whose primary purpose always is to reflect the personality and authenticity of the business and brand it SERVES.
It is not very hard talking a customer into choosing the most sparkling new trends in graphic design, using the argument that THIS is all he WANTS to be:
– young, trendy, cutting edge and really MODERN.
The poor thing probably fear not being modern, as much as teenagers do when they’re buying new clothes.
He does not want to be perceived as not modern enough. In corporate environments, the poor guy whose job it is to buy the graphic design, may be more concerned that his bosses and subordinates perceives him as «modern» enough, than he is with expressing the true personality of the business…
What IS hard, but also VERY rewarding both for the designer and the client, is to have the courage, energy, persistence and skills to drill into your business and brand, find the words to describe WHY you do what you do, extract your values, vision and mission and from them create
a graphic style that carries your authentic expression and your brands personality directly to your customers’ heart.
This has nothing what so ever to do with fashion,
but everything to do with communication.