Where We Went: Were the Five Graphic Design Predictions We Made for 2017 Accurate? And What’s Next?

graphic design trends 2018

A little over a year ago, we gave our predictions for the graphic design trends we thought would go big in 2017. So, just how accurate was our crystal ball?

Illustration would return in a big way: true

Our designer Ryan (who wrote this piece!) works with at least two large firms who’ve hired illustrators for their in-house design teams in the past year. These folks were brought on to support brand initiatives that feature proprietary iconography and illustration, which makes him think that this trend—if you want to call it that—will stick around for at least a few more years. And, product illustration has returned in a big way, too, with apparel companies and other retailers, both online and in printed catalogs. While we still have a way to go to match the volume of illustration seen in earlier decades, it seems that illustration is back to stay.

The end of the ampersand: true

Consider this one a cautionary tale. What began as a nod to authenticity—the ampersand as branding element—suddenly became the mark of a brand that seemed affected and contrived. The ampersand has now been (mostly) relegated to aspirational suburban pubs & strip mall sandwich shops.

Retro inspiration sticks around: true

Maybe somewhat at odds with sudden death of the ampersand, but, aligned with the return of  illustration, retro-inspired design certainly found a foothold 2017. This vintage influence—when executed honestly—can serve a brand well.

Cinemagraphs everywhere: somewhat true

Ryan predicted that cinemagraphs—defined as still images in which a minor and repeated movement occurs”—would be big in 2017, and, while they have made inroads, they’ve not yet proven to be the force he thought they’d be. Cinemagraphs are a trend that might take a while to gain some traction, but we’re willing to give them a little more time. Furthermore, cinemagraphs work well in conjunction with illustration, which bodes well for their future, too.

Bright colors in unlikely places: true

In the past year, we’ve been witness to several major rebrands and each has incorporated new, brighter colors into their respective corporate palette. These are financial, education and insurance organizations, institutions which likely would have avoided such colors in years past. This trend toward more vibrant colors goes hand in hand with the continued success of “flat” design, too, as it can help lend a sense of hierarchy to a web page. 

And, the two graphic design trends that we think will be big in 2018?

Interactive “print” design: we’ve seen a big uptick in client requests for interactive PDFs, e-books, and Adobe InDesign files published online. Where before, a client may have sent a prospect a printed introduction or proposal, many are now providing it either as an interactive PDF or a web link to a virtual piece posted online. Rather than being technology for the sake of technology, these alternatives provide the option of including interactivity: animations, embedded sound and video, active infographics and other features designed to engage the viewer.

The death of “concepts” and the rise of all that is authentic: in trying times, we tend to respond to what is safe, what is familiar and what is authentic- design “comfort food,” if you will. Because of this, we predict less design experimentation in 2018, with the focus instead being on the revival of (and development of) traditional design themes.

We’ll check back in in twelve months to see if we were right!

ABOUT Ryan Bahrke

One of Wordsmithie's senior designers, Ryan has more than 15 years of experience in creative direction and management, working with companies like Google, Quantcast, RSM, Navigant, Starbucks, and Ace Hotel. Ryan is the principal of Auslander Creative in Denver.