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9 Creative Graphic Design Trends For 2022: From 3D Design to Dreamy Gradients

Ready to explore the future of graphic design? Here are 9 innovative graphic design trends to watch over the next year.

Posted 8 Dec 2021
Graphic Design Trends 2022

As the world continues to navigate the global pandemic and adapt to the ‘new normal’, the types of visual content being created and consumed are evolving. While some designers are exploring futuristic trends such as 3D design, surrealism and NFTs, others are taking their craft back to basics, returning to retro and embracing simplicity.

Whether you’re looking ahead or drawing inspiration from the past, we suspect that among the creative trends of the coming year you’ll find something that resonates. Ranging from dreamy gradients and simplistic logos to abstract surrealism and maximalism, here are 9 of the top graphic design trends to watch over the next year.

1. 3D Design

3D Illustration

Thanks to ever-advancing technologies and design software capabilities, more and more designers are now embracing 3D illustration. This trend is all about experimentation, and moving away from flat vector illustrations towards a more detailed style favoring depth and dimension. We’re seeing designers incorporate animation, photos and flat illustrations in their 3D work resulting in some attention-grabbing creations. Ranging from the incredibly lifelike to compellingly abstract, these designs are perfect for web design, branding and social media content.

As playful as it is powerful, 3D illustration is beginning to blur the boundaries between physical and digital – as seen in this 3D illustration by Khyati Trehan. A mash-up of man and machine, Khyati’s work features moving parts and a dramatic shadow effect to draw the viewer’s eye to the mechanisms of this 3D creation. 

“Whilst 3D has been around for some time, it’s now being integrated more seamlessly into designs,” explains ​​John Kappa, Envato Senior Designer. “From vibrant bright and colorful elements through to hyper realistic abstract designs, 3D is here and it’s making things pop!”

To introduce more 3D aspects into your next project, take a look at our curated 3D Design Collection. These 3D elements are easily downloadable and customizable, and can be used for everything from ecommerce and gaming to business and travel. Or for more 3D art inspiration, check out our blog on 3D Illustration.

3D Typography

3D typography - Ben Fearnley

3D typography is another important aspect of the 3D design trend. This style adds a realistic effect to your text and allows words to practically jump off the screen. 

A great example of 3D typography can be seen inthese simple phrases that have been brought to life by designer Ben Fearnly. From bulging helium balloons and swirling shoelaces to a Chanel logo made of cake, there are truly no limits when it comes to 3D lettering. 

Transform your text with this Ultimate 3D Templates Pack. Simply choose your font, customize your colors, and introduce 3D typography into your work in a matter of clicks. 

2. Non-Fungible Tokens

Crypto art has attracted a lot of attention over the last few years, and with some people spending millions on memes, now might be a good time to explore the NFT trend. Non-fungible tokens are unique digital files – in this case, artworks – that are published directly onto a blockchain. NFTs provide verifiable proof of origin and allow only one person to own them. This is good news for collectors and also means that designers who know how to create an NFT, can sell their work without having to worry about their creations being replicated without permission.

While not everyone is a fan of NFTs – predominantly due to their environmental footprint and concerns around copyright – we expect this space to grow in 2022 with an increased number of creators and buyers looking to get in on the NFT game.

3D illustrator and Envato author Amrit Pal Design transformed his Toy Faces series into a string of NFTs, which have since been purchased by celebrities and collectors around the world.   

“Throughout my career, I’ve been making design assets and doing client projects as a 3D illustrator,” says Amrit. “Now, I can also sell my illustrations as a work of art which is a huge deal for me personally. My Toy Faces Library started as a design asset, and is now being sold as an NFT, one Toy Face at a time. That’s very empowering because of the love it’s getting from the community and collectors.” 

To help you get a handle on NFTs, check out this interview with Amrit on how NFTs have impacted his career.

3. Maximalism

Maximalist illustrations by Hortus Fabulares

This next design trend is all about rejecting simplicity and embracing excess. Drawing a lot from Antidesign, maximalism over-saturates the senses with bold color combinations, contrasting patterns, layered images and repeated motifs. Over the next year, we expect maximalism to further dial up the quirkiness and color factor.

“More is more!” says Envato designer, Taylor Conacher. “The maximalism trend is not for the faint hearted. Like it’s cousin anti-design, maximalist design doesn’t play by the rules. Think bold colors, rich textures, fun fonts and interesting photography all coming together to create a feast for the eyes.”

Take a look at this collection of illustrations by Hortus Fabulares. Leaving very little room for white space, these dense designs are bursting with dramatic detail – from astrological maps to fractured statues emerging from mountainous landscapes. 

To take your next branding project to the max, try out this Vagabond – Instagram post & story Vol.2 by dirtylinestudio. Including repeated text and layer-upon-layer of images and illustration, this template features 20 easily customizable designs in both square and vertical format. 

While maximalism is having a moment, there’s still a lot to be said for minimalism. If you’re not sure which team you’re on, go read our minimalism vs maximalism blog to experience these two divisive design styles battle it out. 

4. Simplified Logos

pringles logo

From maximalism to simplification!

As we head into 2022, more and more brands are reinventing themselves – and designing a simplified logo is one of the easiest ways to breathe fresh life into an existing brand.  Whether it’s to appeal to a new audience, appear more approachable, or simply give themselves a makeover, many companies (and their brand designers) are starting fresh – which means dialling back the excessive detail and complex design elements. 

“Over the past year a lot of brands have given their logos a glow up,” explains Taylor. “We are seeing a move to simpler, more refined designs that are recognisable at both small and large sizes, on screen and off. Smaller details are omitted in favour of flat vector shapes, and color palettes limited to one or two tones. The outcome is a cleaner and more youthful logo, and a new lease on life for brands we know and love.”

burger king logo

Recently, snack brand Pringles changed up their packaging with a more stripped back logo, while Burger King revealed a modern update on their 90s design. Similarly, Volvo has cut back on color and opted for an all-black logo, while still maintaining their recognizable brand. 

Whether you’re looking to rebrand or develop a new brand identity, you’ll find plenty of logo inspo in this collection of 15 retro-style templates and badges. Featuring fully customizable colors, shapes and texts, these scalable vectors provide a great jumping off point for a range of businesses – from bakeries to boxing clubs. 

5. Minimalist Retro

Minimalist retro - Rocc Toothpaste

Minimalist retro features old-school fonts, organic color palettes, warm tones, soft shadows and natural textures. A stylish and nostalgic nod to vintage 70s magazine layouts and record covers, this versatile trend lends itself especially well to business logos, editorial features and product packaging.

“Think serif fonts, warm dusty tones, soft shadows and natural textures,” says Kate McKinnes, Envato Graphics Specialist. “This style works particularly well with product mockups and graphic templates.” 

Melbourne design agency Date of Birth have mastered minimalist retro with their branding for ROCC toothpaste, boasting a visual identity that’s both nostalgic and modern at the same time. This is achieved with a chunky retro font in modern pinks and purples set against a clean, forest-green background. 

Perfect for everything from magazines to fashion portfolios, this template from Envato Elements screams minimalist retro. Its customizable spreads come in a variety of sizes, color backgrounds and text blocks. Simply populate the grid layout with the elements you want to include in your next print project, and voila! 

For more retro inspiration, check out our Retro Trends for everything from pop art to 1960s-style psychedelia to 80s-inspired sci-fi elements. 

6. Abstract Surrealism

The room - Madebystudiojq

Offering an escape from reality, abstract surrealism is taking the futuristic aesthetic to a whole new level. This trend often features fantastical illustrations, evocative images and bizarre landscapes, that look like something from out of a dream – or maybe even a nightmare.

“Abstract surrealism for me is the previous years’ trend of vaporwave bleeding into now,” explains Kate. “Like other trends of 2021, surrealism evokes an escape from reality. My long term prediction is that the rainbow chrome and surreal scenes will move towards a further reimagining of the Y2k futuristic aesthetic.”

Just look at these surreal scenes by self-described ‘iridescent digital artist’ Madebystudiojq, which incorporate rainbow chrome across a range of quirky designs. Armchairs take on the weightless quality of balloons, living rooms are carpeted in bright pink fur and a leather sofa floats on water – the result is both unnerving and utterly captivating. 

Abstract surrealism shape art 3D rendering by hemul75

Channel your inner Salvador Dalí by adding a touch of abstract surrealism to your work with this 3D rendering. Futuristic yet familiar, it’s just one of hundreds of photos and creative assets that can be unlocked with an Envato Elements subscription. 

Talking of weird and wonderful design trends, read up on Photo Manipulation to start combining photos, graphics and other visual elements to create bizarre, out-of-this world artworks and effects.

7. Dreamy Muted Gradients

WAV branding - dreamy gradients

Dreamy muted gradients are one of the next trends taking the graphic design world by storm. Featuring an ethereal look and feel, soft pastels and grainy textures, these gradients are being used everywhere from presentation design to branding, social media posts and websites due to their visually pleasing aesthetic. 

“Gradients have come a long way in the technical execution of what’s possible,” says Sean Feehan, Envato UX Designer. “This has led to exciting exploration and developments with irregular and multicolour blends among the creative community.” 

Embracing dreamy gradients with open arms, designer Daria Suslova has opted for a wavy, hazy approach across WAV’s branding and social media content. The result is calming and laidback, with a sunrise-to-sunset color palette. 

You can incorporate this trend into your packaging designs and promotional material with these misty gradient backgrounds, which are modern, minimal and highly versatile. 

8. Embracing Simplicity

MINIMALISM illustrations by Julia Klimkina

After a challenging couple of years, we’re seeing many graphic designers go back to basics by delivering uncomplicated and comforting designs. It’s true, we’re seeing many creatives become more focused on the simple things in life. Why? Perhaps the pandemic has driven people to crave consistency, or maybe this is simply the next iteration of the organic design trend. Either way, simplicity can be a breath of fresh air in an overcomplicated world. 

“The pandemic has driven a risk averse culture where creators are sticking to what they know and delivering to people what they’re already familiar with,” explains Kate. “This might be due to lack of funds or limited opportunities to collaborate and see/use/wear things in the real world during lockdown. Whether it’s fashion, interiors or graphic design, people have produced and sought out cosy, classic, foundational design to get them through this time.”

For example, these MINIMALISM illustrations by Julia Klimkina combine instantly recognizable organic and geometric shapes with a limited color palette that’s warm and inviting. To simplify your socials, try these Instagram post and story templates, which are ideal for promoting skincare and beauty products. 

9. Colorful Minimalism

Colorful minimalism by  K.Friedrich Design

While minimalism is often associated with monochromatic palettes and white space, opting for a minimalist look doesn’t have to mean missing out on color. The colorful minimalism trend has proven particularly popular for branding, combining generous amounts of white space with eye-catching pops of bright color, or vice versa. 

With colorful minimalism, designers tend to stick to a few simple colors within a single composition to accent a particular feature – like the splashes of background color that boost the monochrome doodles on this business card by K.Friedrich Design

To try this trend for yourself, check out this minimalist business card that balances block color and white space. Or, bring colorful minimalism into your Pinterest boards with a modern feed template that combines text and imagery with spotlights of color. 

That does it for the graphic design trends you’ll be seeing in 2022. For more design tips and trends, check out these top Procreate Ideas for 2022, or these 8 Expert Tips to Boost Your Career as a Freelance Graphic Designer. Or discover more 2022 graphic design trends on Envato Tuts+.

Envato Elements is the perfect tool to help you produce professional graphic designs in no time. From graphics and templates to fonts and add ons, the extensive subscription-based library has everything you need to streamline your creative process at your fingertips. 

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