Design is ever evolving, and like many things in life, it is constantly in a state of fluidity. One moment designers are clamoring over nouveau grunge typography, and the next thing you know, literal minimalism is the talk of the town. For some, this uncertainty may seem complicated – and, in some way, it is. However, any good designer will know what to do whenever the graphic design landscape shifts to new trends: adapt.
It isn’t as cut and dry as it sounds though. Simply copying or following design trends might serve you well for now, but you won’t be doing your graphic design skills any favors in the long run. In other words, don’t adapt to trends – instead, learn to adapt trends to your style.
How do you do that, exactly? Here are a few ideas:
1. Identify Your Strengths (and Weaknesses!)
Before anything else, it is important for you to identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie. After all, if you have a good understanding of what you are good or terrible at, taking on whatever new design trends come your way shouldn’t be a problem. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t branch out of your comfort zone; if that means you need to explore new avenues of style to discover your strengths, then definitely do so.
And when you finally identify what you are good at, you should take every chance you can get to use that knowledge to your advantage. For example, if you are a particularly talented illustrator, going with line art or a hand drawn logo might suit you better. And if something isn’t your strong suit, go with something that speaks to you.
2. Get Creative – Ignore Your Limitations
In some cases, clients may require you to stick to a certain design trend. If you are good at that particular style, great! But what if you’re not? Here is where a bit of creative thinking can come into play. So, if, say, a client wants you to create a logo with a modern-retro vibe, but hand drawn imagery is your forte, you can still get the best of both worlds by injecting some of your personal style into the mix.
For instance, you can create something that emulates old-timey hand drawn logos – but with a modern twist, of course. Or, if your client is looking for something a bit more dynamic, you can create a cinemagraph, a hot, new design trend that blends a still image with some moving parts, and take the core idea even further by having some parts of the image reflect your own style – or even incorporate more elements from other design trends.
A vintage-style cinemagraph with some hand drawn imagery thrown in for good measure? Yes, please.
3. Beware of Stagnation
As mentioned earlier, following design trends to the letter might be easier, but doing so won’t allow you to challenge yourself and get your graphic design skills to the next level. Taking the core design elements of certain trends and giving it your own spin, as illustrated in the previous point, is one clever way of challenging yourself and overcoming your limitations.
More importantly, it can also help you avoid stagnation. By mixing and matching elements of different design trends, you are not only furthering your own skills, but you are also introducing fresh new ideas to your work – which, in turn, should help you attract more clients. Remember, tons of designers are all following the latest trends of the year, so it wouldn’t hurt to get a leg up on the competition by being consistently unique.
4. Stay Ahead of the Curve..
Speaking of which, if you want to stay ahead of the design curve, doing a bit of research should go a long way. There are many outlets out there that predict upcoming design trends, so why not use that information to get new ideas that you can incorporate into your designs? You don’t always have to stick to current trends, after all.
5. ..or Behind It
In the same vein, why not take inspiration from trends of years past? Just because they are old, doesn’t mean that they are terrible. Vintage design, for instance, has been making a comeback lately. Again, don’t let yourself fall into a cycle of stagnation – take inspiration from wherever you can get it. And if that means turning back time, then so be it.
Due to how consistently in flux design trends are, it is a bit of a pain to keep up at times. That said, design trends aren’t there to keep you boxed in – they are there simply to provide you with a glimpse at the latest, most popular styles to draw inspiration from. As such, don’t make the mistake of following these trends to the letter – creativity should always be at the forefront of any good design. Mix and match elements to create bold new designs from an amalgamation of elements from different trends. Do a bit of research. Look forward – or backward. Incorporate as much as you can into your own style, and never be afraid to experiment. Who knows? You might kick off a new design trend yourself.