Top 10 Graphic Design Trends You Need To Be Aware Of In 2018

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Almost everyone thought 2016 was bad. This was before 2017. Over the past year, we heard sexual-harassments toppling powerful men, strong wildfires into the whole world, the threats of a nuclear war and the never-ending story of the immigrants in Europe – to name just a few head-ins. At the same time, we were witnesses to a growing desire for counterbalancing the doubt with authenticity and simplicity.

In this very complex world and time, we rapidly move into the future, thanks to powerful innovations in biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology. 

2018 it’s the year of creativity, inventiveness, and imagination. We can see this in all trends for design disciplines, but especially for the visual trends in graphic design, illustration and photography.

In this post, I will focus on the graphic design trends, as long as they influence and redefine the way people interact with others as well as with brands.

2018 is the year we take our awareness and potential to another level. In terms of colors, the start has been given by Pantone (as every year, in fact), who has crowned the color for 2018 as Ultra Violet, based on its meaning of originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us towards the future. 

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute explains: “From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.”

Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. Yet, this color isn’t just futuristic. Pantone argued: “Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance.”

That said, let’s take a closer look at the graphic design trends that define 2018. Most of them influence both print and web design, but some of them are just for web.

Big, bold and vibrant colors

With so many graphic design trends fighting for the leading positions in 2018, bright colors are certainly on top. This direction has stared earlier in 2016 through a variety of design elements and continued to grow last year. From using white spaces and clean layouts to unexpected color combinations, it can be also seen as a response to minimalism and material-design. 

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Yes. Bright colors make the design pop. But also using digital paintbrush make any visual stand out from the crowd. Softwares like Photoshop, Sketch, Procreate and so on have developed them to help designers create cleaner, smoother and versatile effects. 

As an addition to bright colors, metallic elements are used to create the “wow” effect. Often combined with other hot directions such as 3D compositions and creative typography, this trend brings the effect of a real-life composition.

Color transitions and gradients

Staying in the same register, the gradients (or color transitions as we’re calling them now) are one of the biggest design trends right now. Started in 2016 and rising quickly after, this tendency is everywhere, from logo to buttons or picture overlays. As some of the large brands decided to change their visuals from flat color to multi-colored transitions, it's no surprise that this trend has continued to evolve.

I’m expecting to see both in web and print design, more companies adopting color pairs, triads or combinations overall that are bold yet also stylish and attractive.

Pattern, geometric shapes and line art in branding and print design

As flat design and minimalism have become top trends in the graphic design last years, helping to simplify the visuals and improve user experience, I expect to see them continuing to expand and gain their full momentum till the end of 2018.

Geometric lines and shapes have taken a new form as distinctive patterns in design. Paired with bold choices of color, geometric patterns bring a certain complexity and a sense of excitement that makes any design eye-catching and compelling. 

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On the other hand, a pattern doesn’t have to be just about multiple colors or symmetry. Just bringing more visual to graphics using line art stencils and set a metallic foil against a backdrop of pastel colors, is a subtle way to instantly make the designs feel completely on-trend this year.

Negative space

Maybe one of the most important and popular techniques in graphic design is to use negative space. In its nature, negative space is the „empty” space in the design that evokes a distinctive shape for capturing the audience’s attention. 

In 2018 we’ll see this particular trend „playing” not just with images, but with typographic material as well.       

Custom illustrations

Every design is a piece of art created with talent and imagination that reinforces the message sent to the audience. That’s why using illustrations is a trend that will never go out of style.

When it comes to graphic design, illustrations bring a special vibe and more personality than the stock photography. This is one of the best ways for adding a visual appeal to any design and for creating unique visuals for any brand.

In 2018 illustrations are presented in combination with other graphic design trends such as negative space, 3D structures, combined with digital drawing and more. All these techniques boost the effect of the illustrations and bring the composition a new edgy look.


Moving images, such as gifs, are taking the internet by storm and we are beginning to see them across all the online communication channels. Cinemagraphs aren’t the regular gifs we see all around the web. They are still images with minor element moving in them, this technique making simple photos look more realistic and bringing them to life.

As cinemagraphs are a perfect tool for grabbing the audience’s attention in a very short and exciting way, I expect to see them on the screen in 2018.  


Creative typography

Creative typography is one of the leading graphic design trends this year. Even if it started a few years ago, this tendency will not go down very soon.

When it comes to techniques and ways of using typography in any design project, sky is the limit. Imagination and creativity are all that you need. Even if it’s used solely or in combination with other design techniques, creative typography makes a lasting impression. 

As part of this direction, cropped typography was a hot trend in 2017 and is still hot in 2018. As this technique means erasing parts of the letters while still keeping their readability, it also requires creativity and professionalism. But the result is worthing 100%. Just check the examples listed below to see what I mean:

Another modern graphic design trend is using typography that tightly interacts with other design elements. The achieved effect? Turning letters into real-life objects. Check out these awesome examples:


And as final thought related to this topic, let’s talk about.... chaos. It was one of the hottest tendencies last year and it seems it will also translate into chaotic typography in 2018. This means an unconventional order of letters and words.

Double exposure

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Even if double exposure has been a part of the design industry for a long time, some designers have put this technique aside for a while. But in 2018 we’ll definitely see a rise of double exposure designs that amaze the viewer.

Even if it’s about double exposure duotone or double color light, “double” is a major graphic design trend this year. Here are few stunning examples:

User interactions

With user-centered design in mind, the major players in the digital sector increase their resources towards building fluid user experiences. And interactions have proven to be a valuable form of doing this.

We will see interactions in everyday design, especially as more sophisticated platforms like Figma and Framer grow in popularity.

Visual storytelling

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Connecting a user with a brand is absolutely crucial for building a successful long-term relationship. One proven method is telling stories. This concept isn’t new, but in the last years, I’ve started to see it also in graphic design. Designers are giving users rich, unique experiences using visual storytelling because visual content always works better than a simple piece of text – it makes your story more attractive and alive. But doing this through a visual medium like an illustration or even an interface is completely up to the individuals.

Seriously, tell a story!

Bottom line

If I would describe graphic design trends 2018 in three words, these would be – anything but boring. Anyway, you should keep in mind this isn’t an exhaustive list and there are plenty of other trends that may come up or drown this year. All you need to do is make sure you look out for them and apply the ones that fit you the best. 

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