The Future of Graphic Design
February 8th, 2016 | Natasha Englehardt
Graphic design is a dynamic field that blends technology and aesthetics—both of which change frequently. Even within this context of movement and shifting techniques, many in the field of graphic design see the coming years as a likely source of radical forces for change. So what do the experts in the field think the future of graphic design looks like?
DIY and Creative Design
A major trend in graphic design which experts believe will continue and deepen is what Dean Logan
of Foundation calls “creative commodification.” How does it work?
“I have been a working Graphic Designer and Art Director for over 20 years, in both small and large agencies and now my own consultancy. In that time I’ve seen a lot of things change in the industry while other parts of it remain the same. I believe the industry is about to undergo a tremendous disruption. One that’s already taking shape from the rapidly growing league of companies offering $50 logos, off-the-shelf templates for just about anything, DIY web creation platforms, free stock photography and much more.”
In other words, for many consumers of graphic design services, especially small and solo businesses, the more traditional experience of hiring a professional to work on your logo or campaign is not going to be the norm. Still, the growing number of solo DIYers and online businesses may mean a greater need for graphic design professionals, as Nancy Cleary of Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, Inc. explains:
“As writers continue to crash the gates of the publishing industry, more graphic designers will be needed to assist these do-it-yourselfers with cover design, layout, promotions and marketing materials both in print and video. I’ve seen the growing swell of DIYers in desperate need of professional designers to help them, whether they realize it or not — the quality of their packaging and presentations will be equal to their level of success. Yes, people judge books by their cover and authors by their website design, magazine ad, video trailer and so on.”
Graphic Design and The Evolution of Computing
As the field of computing continues to grow and change, so will graphic design. Major graphic design trends such as card design, material design, responsive design, and single page design are shaped by available technologies. While graphic designers use computers for their work to produce digital versions of classic paper work, this may change as computing interfaces evolve.
Even so, many in the field feel that a back to basics approach to artistry will receive more attention in the graphic design industry, especially as more and more DIYers enter the arena. Max Cron of Online Optimism comments:
“Graphic design is in the middle of a huge minimalistic movement. Simple, clean, and crisp designs are favored by companies and freelancers for their ability to easily communicate the most important information quickly. These designs are well balanced, usually composed of only a few basic colors, and yet have a style that is unique and eye catching. When students take graphic design courses, they will first be taught different drawing techniques, instead of jumping straight into computer programs. With so many people using graphic design programs, the strongest designs will not come from computer generated graphics, but from hand drawn images incorporated into the program. Work in the field has become oversaturated with technical computer design, and has been shifting to a simpler, minimalistic more hand crafted feel. No longer does it look like business cards were designed by an automated program, but by a true artist.”
User experience is also going to prompt major changes in graphic design. As users look for more holistic, interactive experiences online, graphic designers will need to respond. Josiah DePaoli of Straw Dog Design explains:
“On the industry side, I suspect the walls between various design disciplines will blur more than they already have. I think there will be a greater emphasis on design thinking than on specific practices. People will have specialties, but I think we’ll see more designers handling not only traditional graphic design but user interface design, user experience design, and product design. I also suspect we’ll start to see designers called in to tackle complex problems that aren’t typically in their wheelhouse.”
Design in Motion and Branding
Animation and motion graphics have become more important in recent years, and this trend will continue into the future. This trend is fueled by the movement towards overall brand experience. Static logos standing alone are no longer the end goal. Designers take into consideration how their logos will be animated, how it will appear as an icon, and whether to use GIFs and emojis for a particular brand from the start. Jonathan Cooper, a graphic designer with the Midnight Oil Group comments:
“I think traditional design (logos, business cards, all that) is less emphasized, and it seems the field is moving more and more towards these huge brand experiences. Now, I don’t make a logo and think, that’s that. Next project! Rather, the logo acts like a brand’s handshake. How should the user feel when they see our social media page? How do they navigate the app? What’s the first thing they see on a site? It’s about designing a whole world in a message.
“I see the future getting more intimate. With growing dependency on technology and the continued rise of social media, companies will get the chance to speak directly to their demographics in almost any form of media, all instantaneously and straight to the phone. It’s my dream that these companies understand the importance of design, and will trust a designer to assist in how they cater and deliver these messages.”
The graphic designers of tomorrow will wear even more hats than they do now. They will need the technical knowledge about up to the minute technologies and the ability to work well with new computing interfaces, of course. They will also need to master the principles of the creative process and the art of commercial communication. Finally, they will need to have education and experience in subjects outside his or her area of specialty—a broader general education to support their specific skills.
Contact the Platt Admissions Office for more information about programs for the graphic designers of tomorrow.