Contemporary Practices and Trends

Hello all,

To the professionals in the field, I wanted to ask what you all think about current trends in contemporary practices (This a question from an assignment). I’m also asking as a student who struggles with sniffing out trends. What trends do you think were great, were there some that you didn’t know were there until later?

You might find the answer disturbing.
While it’s important to be aware of trends, it’s important to be aware of them because…
Trends End.
Your job is to come up with a solution to a client’s communication challenge, not follow trends because they are there. Your solution may actually start the next trend.
Don’t follow. Lead.

If you are having trouble identifying current trends, not sure I can help you. I try to think about it as, “What do all the ‘cool kids’ think is cool.” Remember too that trends are not cliches. Cliches transcend time. Trends…End.

As for trends that exist,

  • if I never have to cut a grunge logo in vinyl again, I will be very happy (we don’t anyway unless they are very VERY large, they usually have to be printed.)
  • if I never have a client ask me to stuff LEDs into a letterform made from those skinny-stroke typefaces that are trending right now, I will be very happy. (what do you mean the strokes have to be at least an inch thick at 24" high? That’s not the font I sent you…)
  • transparent color overlaps in logos…just…don’t.
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I haven’t really paid attention to trends. Graphic design has a pretty solid foundation based in design history and typography. The bread and butter of design will always be paramount, than a hot new trend. If i never have to look at an isometric illustration…id be pretty happy. I find types of illustration as campy.
Trends come and go, the gradient 2d logos of today replaced the pseudo-3d logos of the early 2000s.

The only trends that matter are those you discover through research of your client’s market (clientele, competitors, product positioning, etc.).

Context is everything. The trends that might influence your direction (with, against, despite, notwithstanding) if your client is a retail discount store won’t even come remotely into play if your client is, say, a manufacturer of machine parts, or a funeral home, or a free medical clinic. See what I mean?

– Clarity in communication
– Thorough research
– Focussed hierarchy
– Production integrity

Not a lot of people know these. That’s why they are hidden trends. They’ve been around for a long time but, like all trends, they started to fall out of favour. Maybe one day they’ll resurface.

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I see what you did there.

The current trend of design students being overly concerned with trends seems to be trending. It’s also a trend that I wish would end soon. Unfortunately, trendy design instructors seem to be pushing this preoccupation with trends, so I suppose it’s an academic trend among trend-conscious instructors to impose naive notions of what design is all about onto their students.

In my nearly 40 years as a designer, I can only remember one single instance of a client mentioning anything about needing a trendy look, but that was a client whose business depended on catering to trend-conscious adolescent girls.

For all my other clients, trendiness never comes up. My clients hire me to solve problems related to how good design can better communicate their messages, engage their target audiences more effectively and, ultimately, to accomplish business objectives. Incorporating the latest fad or trend into that design just isn’t on my list of priorities, nor should it be.

It’s important that one’s designs not look dated, but not looking dated typically means that it needs to look like it belongs within the last decade or two and not noticeably stuck in the past. As the others before me here have already mentioned, there are design principles and considerations far more important than following trends.

When I notice a design trend emerging, I try to avoid getting sucked into it. Fads and trends that are so ubiquitous that they can be identified as trends are the first things to go out of fashion and look dated. I certainly don’t want this year’s trend dragging down my client’s branding two or three years down the road.

Your design instructor and, possibly, your fellow students in the cloistered classrooms of academia might think staying abreast of current trends is of utmost importance. Once you graduate into the real world, you’ll find your employers and clients don’t care about them — trendy design just isn’t a thing that registers with them. Instead, they care about how well that new brochure or website you’ve designed will help their bottom line.

Anyway, as a designer, you should be looking past the trends, not copying the look of what others have done. You don’t want to be a follower of trends. Instead, you want your work to be innovative and effective. If you do it well, you just might find other less talented students/instructors/designers copying your style, in which case you’ve become a trendsetter and not a trend follower.


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