A calm and considered mood is brewing in print design for 2022. Print trends across magazines, brochures, packaging, and posters were dominated by bright colors, playful shapes, and novel print finishes in 2021—in an attempt to boost optimism and consumer trust after an uncertain period.
The optimistic mood continues into 2022, but there’s also room for a more composed approach. With colorful minimalism, folkloric color, and whisper-quiet gradients expected to make print designs feel more tactile and tranquil, in 2022 print designs are all about calm and comfort.
That doesn’t mean that print design trends for this year are lacking in punch. From rich, tonal colors that look fantastic on simple packaging designs to graphic monochrome designs that make a nod to the 1960s, there are plenty of exciting new print design trends to discover for the year ahead. With the return of cinema and live music, there are also exciting sub-trends to discover, such as Matrix-worthy cyberpunk and gig-inspired collage.
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Print Trends 2021: What Print Design Trends Were Huge Last Year?
Post-pandemic, 2021 saw a wave of brand identities and print designs eager to provide comfort and reassurance to anxious consumers. Optimism was a key mood for 2021, with bright color palettes, childlike geometric shapes, and simplistic, naive aesthetics that referenced cartoon culture. Nostalgia marketing also saw a major revival last year for similar reasons, allowing viewers to step back in time and forget—if only for a moment—the bizarre state of the world in 2020.
Colorful flat geometric designs have proved popular across brand identities, and they translate effectively to large-scale print designs such as posters and signage. True North’s identity for Showtown, Blackpool’s first museum, used a variety of playful shapes in an ice cream palette to create the building blocks of type and graphics.
The optimistic and childlike theme continued in Pentagram’s identity for Virgin Money. Fluid, graphic type and acid-bright colors make print communications including brochures, posters, and packaging feel friendly and playful—a far cry from traditional financial branding.
With social anxiety at an all-time high over 2021, it was no surprise that print designers looked to the escapist past for inspiration. Nostalgia marketing may view the 1970s through a rose-tinted lens, but that doesn’t prevent retro styles from resonating with world-weary consumers.
A fantastic example in action was Studio Koto’s printwork for revolutionary start-up Meatable, a business that aims to bring cultured meat to a wider market. Posters and ads featured vintage-style borders and textures, postcard graphics, and Seventies-style curvy type. It’s a clever strategy to give the concept of lab-grown meat a cozier personality and distance the branding from the clinical reality of the product.
What Are the Biggest Print Trends of 2022?
While we expect 2021’s optimistic mood not to vanish anytime soon, we can expect print design in 2022 to further distance itself from the pandemic aftermath and move back towards a variety of print trends and design styles that are responsive to different cultural events. For example, with the return of cinema and other communal events, we’ll start to see trending designs that foster a sense of togetherness and refer to specific films, music genres, or fashion trends.
Some macro-trends will continue to evolve, such as gradient color and minimalism. Gradients are becoming ever more subtle and whispery, acting as beautiful textured backdrops for print layouts rather than the star attraction. A minimalist aesthetic will still be ultra-desirable for lifestyle packaging and corporate branding, but we’ll see quirks introduced into simple styles, such as unusual, rich color palettes, graphic 60s-inspired monochrome, and subtly elegant serif typography.
If you’re creating print designs, such as magazines, posters, brochures, books, or packaging, make sure to bookmark this page and take a note of your favorite trends—these are the print design trends which will be making waves in the year ahead:
- Rich, tonal colors
- Layered photography and type
- Colorful minimalism
- Black and white
- Gig collage
- Subtle gradients
Read on to discover more details about each of these print trends and pick up tips for using each design trend in your print work, from flyers to signage.
1. Rich, Tonal Colors
In line with a general move towards comfort in graphic design, designers are seeking alternatives to the ultra-bright neons and pastels that have dominated design over the past couple of years. Although neon palettes still have their place (see Cyberpunk, below), rich, tonal colors feel much more soothing and make a fantastic pairing for elegant serif typography on trendy packaging, stationery, and other designs.
Tonal colors, which work together subtly to create a seamless and effortless palette, don’t worry the eye, resulting in harmonious designs with depth and warmth. These types of colors are best used in broad groups to avoid an overly muted look. For example, use a series of autumnal, collegiate colors across a series of packaging designs to give simple designs more impact on the shelves, or give the spines of book covers a subtly serial style with a tonal, folkloric palette.
2. Layered Photography and Type
The best technique for creating print design with depth and interest in 2022? Layer up! You'll see it in a lot of the top trending designs. While a strictly grid-based approach preaches the separation of orderly elements, by superimposing type over photography, or vice versa, you can create much more intriguing designs. Handwritten scripts give portrait photos informality and effortless cool, while chunkier sans serifs feel more impactful when intimately combined with imagery.
David Carson’s work for pioneering grunge magazine Ray Gun is a perfect precedent. The master of layering collage imagery and anarchic experimental typography, Carson creates designs that are the antithesis of overly digitized designs. There’s always something new to discover in his complex and compelling layouts for publication design.
3. Colorful Minimalism
Sleek and simple, minimalism rarely loses its appeal for print designers raised on a diet of modernist graphic design. Although it's a timeless style, this year we’ll see top trending designs use minimalism embellished with a dash of color. Whether you use a graphic stripe or color-pop border, try lifting otherwise simple, monochrome brochures, flyers, and stationery with a minimal but no less impactful splash of color.
With The Matrix Resurrections released at the end of 2021, expect 2022 to witness a revival of the iconic cyberpunk aesthetic pioneered by the original 90s Wachowski-directed franchise. This is a trending design style that's been making a strong statement in fashion and music over the last year, with The Weeknd and supermodel Bella Hadid being particular fans of the full-leather look.
Think futuristic, 90s-influenced typography, dark backdrops, and acid green highlights, all with a slightly dystopian edge. Wireframe, CAD-inspired graphics make for hack-themed backdrops to posters for events, flyers, and websites.
Space styling will also find a place within the cyberpunk aesthetic, with Soviet-style type and high-shine silver print finishes, which make for high-impact and unusual packaging designs.
5. Black and White
If you prefer your minimalism to be strictly colorless, the print design trend for striking black and white colorways might be just the ticket.
Experiment with texture to bring monochrome designs to life. Applying a UV gloss to an otherwise all-black design really allows logos and graphics to catch the light, while matte, textured paper stock can bring extra depth and interest to simple monochrome stationery or book covers.
6. Gig Collage
With the welcome return of social events, we expect to see more print designs related to nightlife, festivals, and gigs in 2022. While a full grunge revival isn’t likely, posters and flyers that reference gig culture in a contemporary way will bring the live music renaissance to life.
Gig collage sums up the print design trend of roughly chopping and arranging photographic imagery to create a subtle tribute to the collage style of vintage punk and grunge posters. In 2022, this choppy, jaunty technique will bring more energy and movement to poster artwork, tickets, and flyers. In a pressure cooker of a year, it's easy to understand why it's one of the top trending design styles.
6. Subtle Gradients
With acid-bright gradients now overwhelmingly commonplace, they seem to have lost their initial freshness. More subtle iterations of gradients will bring texture and gentle color to the background of stationery designs and business cards.
Watercolor effects bring soothing aqueous texture to print designs, making for an ethereal print trend that brings otherworldly elegance to a range of designs.
Conclusion: 2022 Graphic Design Trends
With optimistic design still a huge trend in the aftermath of the pandemic, print designers are starting to look to more subtle ways of making us all feel more comforted. Tactile textures combine with tonal colors, layered photography, and sinuous serifs for an overall elegant and encompassing aesthetic.
We can also expect eagerly anticipated cultural and arts events to play a bigger role in the year ahead. Movies which have had to wait months (or years) for release, as well as live music, festivals, and exhibitions will also play a major role in shaping the face of print design in 2022.
Stay ahead of the curve and start putting these elegant trends into action. You can find on-trend print design templates, graphics, and typefaces on Envato Elements to help you get started on the right foot.
You can capitalize on your new knowledge by creating great work with trending designs. Don't miss these essential print templates and trends that look ahead to the new year: