Graphic Design Trends That Are Out Of Fashion Now

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Graphic design has come a long way. Walking down memory lane brings a feeling similar to browsing archives of old photographs. You begin to wonder if some of the picture elements were necessary, and you see some design trends were inspired by what was in vogue. Such graphic design ideas are better left in the past - where they belong.

There are other graphic designs that are not necessarily good or bad, but a victim of overuse until they became cliché. Some graphic designers are too clingy or emotionally attached to their old designs, and risk going down with the sinking ship. Others are just too slow to evolve. Below are some of the graphic design trends that are going out of style. If you are still using them, you’d better move on.

1. Too many details, or outright complex

A few years ago, the more detail or complexity in a design, the higher it would score on the graphic design rating. If you look back to the beginning of the 20th century and scan the advertising, illustrations, and sign-painting, you will notice the great deal of attention given to detail.

This was the kind of design that inspired many designers. For example, Tobias Saul’s hand-drawn pieces were inspired by the ornate illustrations popular to branding and advertising in that period.

Vintage and retro styles are still popular, but they are blending into styles of recent decades which forecasters prefer to call “modern retro.” Google’s visual language also dictated the shift to material design. The normal trend is for the smaller brands to follow the big ones.

2. Minimalism has replaced bevel and emboss

It is still tempting to use the bevel and emboss, but the truth is that minimalism is taking over. This design was trendy in the 1990s to the early 2000s. Designers put it on almost anything they could lay their hands on….but graphic design has grown beyond faux-realistic bevels. The current trend is for objects to have fairly uniform edges, be simple and have almost no effects besides an infrequent shadow.

Bevel did not fade into the background all of a sudden. It became paramount for it to evolve into something ornate. Alone, bevel gave almost a clay-like appearance to objects, and fancy glass and plastic effects have now taken its place. Instead of sticking with the old traditions, it is better to opt for the improved version.

3. Muted, natural color patterns

Shutterstock has made it an obligation every year to observe color trends by running an analysis of the photo types and graphics visitors downloaded most. The 2014 and 2015 reports have one thing in common - blues and greens were the dominant colors.

One design that clearly demonstrates the natural color pattern is the health and nutrition coach brand designed by Lauren Ledbetter. Another striking example is the leafy greens in the brand package print design by Ashley Jankowski.

Nature-inspired color palettes are also fading away. In its place, you will now see brighter, more saturated selections. This trend is one of the cross-influences of material design, as well as the 80s and 90s-inspired visual trends.

4. Mixed typography

The mix-and-match technique of combining fonts used to be widespread. It featured on social media and various other websites, branding and company logos as well as posters and book covers.

One of the drawbacks was that it was tricky and difficult to combine fonts, and blend them in. Not everyone got it right. It often came off sloppy, without the graphic designer pausing to consider which fonts could blend together.

The times it was effectively done, the typefaces blend seamlessly to create a whole new visual dynamic. A good example is the labels by Good South, which effectively blends script typefaces with sans-serif in differing styles and weights.

5. The burst design

The burst graphic design dates back to the early days of print design. It was a great way of grabbing an audience’s attention, and its urgency was easily recognized. The major problem with the burst is that it makes your graphic design - no matter what it is - look like a marketing slush.

Looking back at it now, it exudes a total lack of imagination, or a cheap escape from the mental exercise of integrating the message logically into the design pattern. Sadly, it is usually the first thought that pops into the head of many designers.

This is one of the graphic design flaws you can battle by spending a little more time thinking. You will come up with an element that fits seamlessly with the overall design, but still stands out enough to grab attention. PixelPop is a tool that solves this problem well, with simple templates and thoughtful designs.

6. Drop shadows are no longer as trendy

Drop shadow shares a similar history with bevel in terms of usage and demise. Drop shadow layer style did not really die; it is now undergoing a series of modifications. A few graphic designers now tweak the default effect to come up with something new and attention-grabbing.

The old trend creates a big, soft shadow with plenty of distance and heavily in contrast with the background. The result is a design that lacks a naturalist feel, and reeks of fake lighting effect.

There are still millions of ways you can use drop shadow without turning your audience your audience. You can blend the shadow with the background to create a soft, feathered edge that makes the text a bit more realistic but without undue distractions.

Another way of handling shadows is the use of non-feathered drop shadow with a little retro feel. You can stretch this step further by layering the shadow. This is becoming trendy in recent times.

7. Monoline

This one applied more to logos. These logos had only a single line weight. It was popular for a while, and still shows up sometimes. Its adaptation ranges from simple to complex, fancy or casual, as well as modern or vintage.

Monoline is one of those graphic designs that suffered from overuse. One of the best example of monoline was the piece by Bryan B. Butler. Brian Athey’s use of monoline was a bit more creative, as it appeared as an accent to bring out the main figure in his logo.

8. Badges and crests

This logo design is so popular you will find it at almost every page. Templates are available where you only need to fix your text, or other elements, and you have a badge logo like everyone else.

There is nothing wrong with badges. They are easy to tweak to a specific taste and style. But if you are going for a compact branding, a badge should be avoided because you will sink into the crowd. If you want to see some of the creative tweaks you can do with badges, you need to look at Allan Peter’s examples.

9. Shaped typography

Hand-lettering arranged in the form of a shape or within a shape had its swing but it is becoming a grey area now. It can be fun, but it has limited applicability because it just cannot fit into every form of business.

Another problem you will notice when you look at examples is that typographical illustrations tend to look vaguely similar. This is a bad idea when your target is to stand out of the crowd.

10. Traditional stock imagery, and generic typography

When it comes to web design, traditional stock imagery and generic typography date back nearly as far as the World Wide Web. The tools available at that time limited graphic designers, but now they have a wider toolset to choose from.

11. Static Graphics

Web designers now employ more moving graphics from animations or video as a significant element in their designs. Visitors are used to still images, and a little bit of movement can be the net that drags in visitors.

12. Cookie-cutter layouts

There are similar web designs out there for a number of reasons, but it is easy to see that designers take inspiration from each other. A common layout is image sliders on homepages.

Graphic designing is constantly evolving, while some seemingly cool designs are left behind. If you have reached your wits’ end, you can get help by hiring one of the professional graphic designers on There is no better way of becoming a good graphic designer than staying updated on the current trends.

If you are a graphic designer, let us know some of the graphic designs that have lost their magic touch. Feel free to share this article with your friends.

Posted 25 November, 2017


Designer // Writer // Creative

Tom is a Design Correspondent for He is currently based in Melbourne and spends most of his non-work moments trying to find the best coffee.

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