7 Key Graphic Design Trends For 2018

By January 9, 2018Blog, Branding, Design

2017 was for some a great year, and for others, not so much. And out of the blue, comes 2018, a brand new, fresh, untouched year, and it seems like the plan for 2018 is to bring back design trends from the past, modernise them, and diverge from  flat design. This means we will see the return of colour transitions, or as some dread to call them, gradients.

Design trends are always evolving, and sometimes they repeat a cycle. 2018 seems to be doing just that, and we’re only just starting!

Colour Transitions & Gradients

It wasn’t that long ago, when gradients were found on every website, on every button on that website, every header, PowerPoint presentation… Let’s just say, everywhere! It was what the cool kids did, and if you wanted to be a cool designer, you used gradients. Then, sometime in 2007, we dropped gradients, and embraced the era of flat design. We embraced it so much so, gradients almost became cringe worthy, something you don’t do anymore.

However, like we said before, design evolves. The next evolution to flat design is exactly what you expect, the comeback of gradients. Unlike previous gradient usage, this is more of an enhancement to the flat design, it even has its own name! Introducing “flat 2.0”, or as others call it “semi-flat design. Instagram’s new branding took a big leap with it, and solidified the return of colour transitions. Now we can expect it to appear everywhere.

Now let’s talk about colour transitions, which is often used when referring to gradients, however, “colour transitions” often are used when referring to the modern application of gradients, which is more vibrant, smooth and flatter.

Semi-flat Design

You thought we were done talking about semi-flat design? Think again! Because it seems like shadows are back this year! Minimalism & two-dimensional design became extremely favoured, but that time is now over. Depth is a valuable tool to help users determine visual hierarchy, input fields & calls to action on screen.

Designers started experimenting with long shadows, the almost cut off shadows you see on icons these days. Before long, designers started to reintroduce shadows by themselves. This time a little different, the shadows were large, soft, sometimes coloured, and added subtle depth and dimension, unlike their harsh, overused, drop-shadow predecessors.


2018 is going to be a year of doubles. Double tones, double exposure, double light, you name it! What is interesting however, is that last year some of the aforementioned did get into the limelight, but what we saw last year, seems to be different. Some websites & designers even claim that duotone images are a dead medium.

Colour Channel Effects

Playing with color channels has been widely popular among designers, and you can see it in popular culture as well. The technique allows designers to create great illusion-like effects. A holograph, a hallucination, a distorted reality… all of these are highly influential on the viewer.

Double Exposure

Double exposure has been a thing for a while now, you’ve probably seen it around, specially on movie posters, advertisements, and so on. Now it seems that it isn’t going anywhere this year, in fact, it will probably be around even more this year. Designers have used double exposure a lot as it shows more than a single thing within the same space, without cluttering that space. This can be more the case with posters that have limited space and a lot to tell.


“I’m seeing double” will be no longer a post-sesh effect. This trend is a hybrid from Double Exposure and Duotone, plus using color channels. In short, double exposure duotone is achieved by doubling the image or using two different overlapping images in monochrome colors. This is where we believe duotones will continue to live on, in a new design trend. This way, designers achieve an “ahead-of-its-time” effect.

Responsive Logo Design

Responsive design came to light roughly 10 years ago, with the introduction of mobile browsing. Since then, it’s become industry standard, as can be seen with the question that is often asked about web design: mobile or web first? Due to the increase in mobile browsing, a lot of issues were raised concerning traditional websites. Designers and developers began experimenting with various ways to make designs adapt to the user’s device as a one-website-fits-all solution. This laid the groundwork for what would become known as “responsive design.”

Of course this brings us back to branding and design. We would want the logos to do the same thing. You can’t use the same detailed logo you use on a big banner, in a smaller size on an app. Logos need to be responsive too, adapting to the size they are required to be in. We will be seeing a lot of logo design coming forward with more than just a single design, but multiple, of different sizes and adaptability.

If you want to see more of what responsive logos are and can be, Joe Harrison, digital and interaction designer, created an experimental project called Responsive Logos, which shows you how they can be scaled and changed by scaling your window. So head over there and see the world’s biggest brands become responsive.


Okay, this isn’t particularly new, but it’s definitely sticking around this year, specially with the increase of 70s & 80s inspired movies and tv shows. That’s right, vintage!

80’s Inspired

If you really like movies and tv shows, you’ve probably caught up to the trend going around. Remakes of 70’s and 80’s films, or shows inspired by those times. You’re probably no stranger to Stranger Things, which brought about an influx of 80’s inspired things, from the music, to the fashion. And design is right there with it!

From pretty pastels to electric hues, color schemes from the 80’s and 90’s have been gaining popularity once again. With the movement away from ultra-flat designs, expect to see the abstract and geometric patterns inspired by the era move from the fringes into the mainstream as well.

As children of the 80’s and 90’s become more prominent and influential as both brand leaders and key target audiences, this trend can add visual excitement as well as a touch of nostalgia to your designs.

High Detail Vintage

Minimalism is cool, sure, but highly detailed, perfectly crafted, personalised illustrations & logos are timeless. And they will become even more of a thing in 2018, as the chance of seeing more vintage design this year is quite high. Brands looking to achieve a top-shelf look often find classic design aesthetics can provide an air of distinction and sophistication.

This trend will probably not work for everyone, but expect to see it much more in the food & drink industry than any other. It might appear in health & beauty as well. Artisan, organic & natural product brands love this look, as it gives off a more handcrafted feeling away, which matches the products and services.

Custom Graphics & Illustrations

Whether they are whimsical, practical, or purely artistic, the demand for custom graphic art and illustrations will continue to grow in the new year. Custom imagery has always played a major role in print media. When it comes to digital media however (despite being a star player of Flash websites in the 2000’s), custom graphic art and illustration has taken a backseat to cheaper stock imagery alternatives for much of the last decade, but that is about to change.

The accessibility of stock left drawing, painting, calligraphy, artistic typography, photography and illustration underutilized on the modern web. This includes modern renditions of classic graphic design techniques like duotones and double-exposures for example, both of which are becoming trends of their own. The movement toward flat design also left little room for these embellishments and as we opted for icons and illustrations tailored to flat design trends, we left things looking a little homogenized.

Custom artwork and illustration helps create a visual language which can really enhance and add personality to a brand. In 2018, you can feel free to get really creative as we’ll see more artwork in a broader range of styles surface as designers and their clients begin to untap the potential of these underused assets.


Bolder Equals Better

This year, typography will be mostly rolling on a “bigger, bolder, better” theme. Designers will be opting for artistic effects, extra-large font sizes and huge headlines. Helvetica-inspired sans serifs have dominated digital spaces, and while they’ll remain as fashionable as ever, especially the more bolder families, we can expect more typeface variety in the coming year.

The Return of Serif

We’ll see the same type as last year as well as some returning ones like… wait for it… serif fonts! Our serif font friends have been making a rapid reappearance on screens, especially when paired with sans serifs. With a demand for synchronization across all media, designers shied away from serifs almost entirely to avoid inconsistency as brands began to live more of their lives online. With the serif’s increasing acceptability on screens, we can expect a ripple effect and for the serif to regain some of its former footing.


So there we are, all the trends we think will be big this year. We will try to implement all these trends to our design & development this year, as we move forward, and we hope that you will try some out as well!

Do you agree with our list? Disagree? Do you think you will follow these trends, or if you’re a business, do you think any of these trends might be something you wish to get into? Whatever it is, let us know! We’d love to stay in touch with out readers!

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