UX Design Trends

Creative Provocation in Graphic Design Trends

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Unleashing creativity. Encouraging survivalism. Supporting everyone.


Bold, brave, and unconventional decisions — this is what stands out in the people’s news feeds, makes them stop scrolling for a while, and motivates extraordinary thinking. Creative provocation is a kind of care, as it supports the unprotected, makes the powerful aware of existing problems, and encourages everyone to co-create a better future regardless of the harshest conditions.

Let’s talk about the design that reminds people of their purpose, tears the veil from their eyes, and breaks out through the borders of their comfort zone. Creative provocation is a design decision to unceremoniously uncover the truth and raise awareness about the problem. Awareness is the first step to change.

Creativity enables finding better solutions in life and work. It helps us see the keys to our problems, as a solution always exists.

The new wave of environmental awareness

Fuel Water Pollution Posters by Sophia Tomash for Zajno Crew on Dribbble

Artists, marketers, and brands team up to create a positive change. Today, we can see more and more visual content and advertisements that talk about a fundamentally important topic for everyone — our environment. These visuals show what is going on in different corners of the world and address climate change, pollution, and other environmental concerns. They accurately depict problems and encourage consumers, members of communities, and companies to rethink their daily decisions from the environmental perspective.

Considering the enormous heat, threats of tsunamis, powerful storms, and non-typical weather forecasts all over the world, we start realizing even more that climate change is here today and immediate action is needed. The design community can contribute to this action by crafting visual content that raises awareness of it.

Stop Plastic Website Pages by tubik on Dribbble
Stop Plastic Website Interactions by tubik on Dribbble

Contradictory inclusion (when it is and isn’t simultaneously)

“The benefit of expanding social justice knowledge as designers is that the messages communicated become more inclusive. When thinking is inclusive, it enhances creativity and the ability to generate more ideas and better solutions — which in turn activates the ability to be innovative.” — AIGA: Diversity & Inclusion: Learning Basics

Global Accessibility Awareness Month Poster Series by Gretchen Nash for Amazon Design

Inclusive thinking and protection of social diversity have become major graphic design trends in 2021. The TREND… Yes, social inclusion has turned into a design and marketing TREND, but not much in reality, unfortunately. It refers not only to the design industry. This article is just a chance to speak out… During my marketing practice, I have seen so many brands and startups promoting concepts of diversity, equality, and social inclusion. And I was so disappointed to see only several brands implementing these principles in real life — in their product features and at a workplace. In their marketing, a lot of even very reputable companies claim that they foster social inclusion. But it’s time to integrate it into real decision-making at work and in daily life.

You can read more about it in Bloomberg’s article “Why Silicon Valley’s Many Asian Americans Still Feel Like a Minority.”

Survivalism in the COVID-restricted world

“At its most basic level, survivalism is a mindset with the goal of keeping an individual alive through adverse circumstances. These circumstances could be lots of things, from a devastating flood or earthquake to a nuclear attack or civil war.” — CLAS Users.

I would also add COVID-19 and accompanying restrictions to this list of circumstances. Whether corona is a biological weapon that hit humanity during the calm World War III or just the accidental coincidence of events that gave birth to another virus, it has become part of our reality and we need to learn to cope with this. Keep in mind, I’m talking not only about the virus itself but also the forced loneliness that has faced millions of people worldwide. The modern graphic design reflects it in different ways — from the creative depiction of this reality as a fact to cheering-up compositions to life-affirming, bold color palettes.

Lockdown by Pierre Kleinhouse on Dribbble
Quarantine & Chill by Chloe White on Dribbble

Thought-provoking metaphors and play of paradoxes

The power has always been at hands of those who accept the harsh truth and take action according to their values. Everyone can gain this advantage by stopping to close their eyes every time they see a problem. It’s time to solve our problems and do it with a different mindset than we had when we created them. The world’s positive change starts from the individual’s empowerment. And it begins when a person decides to take full responsibility for his or her life.

Unleash your creativity to craft thought-provoking art. Today, many digital artists use the play of paradoxes, mind-blowing visual metaphors, digital media, and textures of real-life objects to produce designs that motivate people to rethink their decisions for their own good and the planet’s better future.

Round And Round by Zhivko Terziivanov on Dribbble
Fruiture dispencer by Zhivko Terziivanov on Dribbble
3 people in the shadow but only two in the car… is death in the back? — Illustration by Davide Bonazzi
Illustration by Davide Bonazzi

Breaking the rules and praising the daring

Brutalism still has a place among graphic design trends 2021. This style attempts to look haphazard, unadorned, and raw. It’s another manifestation of creative provocation and reaction against artificiality. There is so much beauty, rhythm, and order in this style. Sometimes, what seems to be visual brutalism to others is the most realistic picture of what is happening in our lives and our world. Proponents of digital brutalism praise it for its honesty and daring.

BRUTALIST ANTHEM by Hrvoje Grubisic on Dribbble
Open House Vilnius by younique on Dribbble

I’m not closing this article with a conclusion intentionally, encouraging You to continue this list of creative provocation trends with your innovative ideas. If the world is a theater, be the one who acts, not the viewer.

Creative Provocation in Graphic Design Trends was originally published in Muzli – Design Inspiration on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.