The Evolution of Graphic Design Trends in the Last Decade

Graphic design is used in virtually every industry. From the sports and gaming world to the healthcare and food industries.

Over the past decade, the graphic design landscape has undergone significant transformations, influenced by technological advancements, cultural shifts, and changing design philosophies.

While these graphic design trends and changes may not have been so obvious to us in the moment, looking back we can clearly see different styles and eras within the graphic design industry.

From big and bold to simple and muted, the visual styles and traditional techniques have developed and changed over the years.

This blog explores the major graphic design trends from 2010 to 2023, highlighting key developments that have shaped the visual design language of our digital age.

The Rise of Flat Design (2010-2013)

In the early 2010s, flat design emerged as a prominent trend, marking a departure from the life-like (called skeuomorphism) design that mimicked the everyday world and dominated the previous decade.

Flat design prioritized simplicity, clean lines, and bold colours, discarding unnecessary playful patterns and flairs for a more streamlined aesthetic.

Brands like Microsoft and Apple embraced flat design principles in their operating systems, influencing designers across industries to adopt this minimalist approach.

This graphic design trend is also pulled from minimalist trends within the design world.

Responsive Design and Mobile-First (2012-2015)

As mobile devices became used more and more, graphic designers faced the challenge of creating designs that seamlessly adapted to various screen sizes. Additionally, there was more focus on creating a digital and physical version of the design.

Responsive design, which gained traction between 2012 and 2015, is a form of web design that addressed this need by ensuring websites and applications provided optimal user experiences across different devices.

The shift towards mobile-first design prioritized mobile interfaces during the design process, reflecting the changing ways users interacted with digital content.

Responsive web designs forced graphic designers to create designs that were outside the box and explore the different tools, fonts, and elements in their graphic design software.

Minimalism and Maximalism (2014-2017)

The mid-2010s witnessed a divergence in design philosophies, with both minimalism and maximalism gaining popularity in the design and digital spaces.

Minimalism continued to thrive, emphasizing simple shapes and the “less is more” ethos. Minimalism, which is often linked to the Bauhaus style in graphic design, has remained popular in the graphic design space even if the trend has faded over the past decade. You will still find various pieces of visual communication using minimalistic logo design or web design.

On the flip side, maximalism embraced bold patterns, bold typography, pop art styles, vibrant colours, and intricate details to create visually rich and immersive experiences. This period showcased the versatility of graphic design, catering to diverse tastes and preferences.

Like responsive design, this trend allowed a graphic designer the freedom and space to really go big and bold and to try something new.

The Advent of 3D and Depth (2016-2019)

The evolution of graphic design is largely influenced by advancements in technology which, throughout 2016-2019, allowed designers to explore three-dimensional and depth-enhancing elements in their work.

Shadows, gradients, and parallax scrolling became prevalent, adding a sense of realism and interactivity to digital designs. This also showcased the evolving screen technology for a designed web page. Instead of a simple flat aesthetic or flat interface, artists could create designs that were more interactive.

This trend was particularly notable in web design and UI/UX, as designers sought to create more engaging and visually dynamic user experiences throughout digital design.

Retro Revival and Nostalgia (2018-2020)

In the late 2010s, a wave of nostalgia swept through graphic design, leading to a resurgence of retro style aesthetics from the 80s and 90s. Even though we were on the cusp of a new decade, designers looked to the past for design trends, like bold fonts and colourful images.

Vintage colour palettes, pixel art, and retro typography made a comeback, as many designers tapped into the collective longing for the past.

This trend was evident not only in digital design but also in branding, packaging, and advertising campaigns.

Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Design (2019-2022)

As environmental concerns took centre stage globally, the graphic design space responded with a focus on sustainability and eco-friendly practices.

Designers started to incorporate earthy tones, recycled materials, and eco-conscious messaging into their work.

Brands, in particular, sought to convey a commitment to environmental responsibility through their visual identity, aligning with the growing emphasis on sustainability in consumer choices.

Abstract and Organic Shapes (2020-2023)

At the start of a brand new decade, there was a noticeable shift from the past decade towards the use of abstract and organic shapes in graphic design. Designers embraced irregular forms, flowing lines, and asymmetry to create visually compelling compositions.

This trend was seen in app design, cover design, and across the digital sphere.

This evolution of graphic design from strict geometric shapes and simple shapes added a sense of playfulness and creativity to designs, breaking away from the rigid structures of previous years.

Dark Mode and High Contrast (2021-2023)

Dark mode, originally introduced to reduce eye strain in low-light conditions, evolved into a design trend in its own right.

Between 2021 and 2023, dark mode interfaces and high-contrast designs gained popularity across platforms. It also emerged as a response to an increased awareness for those with accessibility needs.

Screen designers and graphic designers alike explored the aesthetic possibilities of dark backgrounds, experimenting with vibrant accents and neon elements to create visually striking and immersive experiences.

Artificial Intelligence (2023)

With the rise of the dramatically futuristic artificial intelligence tools, graphic designers and graphic design tools in the creative cloud have evolved significantly, even just in the past year.

This rapid growth involves the use of AI-generated images, interest in virtual reality, and other immersive tech.

Tools like Adobe Photoshop and inDesign have created settings and elements that allow designers to use AI when completing a design, from simple shapes or logo design to detailed landscapes and abstract design.

While the world of AI, especially in the design space, is fairly unexplored, we will likely see more trends come out of this new technological advancement.


The graphic design trends from 2010 to 2023 reflect a dynamic and ever-evolving field that responds to technological advancements, cultural shifts, and societal concerns.

From the rise of flat design to the exploration of 3D elements, the design landscape has continuously reinvented itself, providing a rich tapestry of visual expression.

There are many different factors that contribute to the ongoing evolution of graphic design. However, it’s certain that design will continue to push boundaries by embracing new technologies and evolving alongside the changing needs and preferences of audiences worldwide.

Find The Design For You – Ripple Marketing

Are you interested in exploring any of these design trends from the past decade? Are you hoping to re-design a logo, website, or other marketing materials?

Ripple Design & Marketing is here to help! Our team of marketing and design professionals are well-versed in the design world and can help you find a design and branding style that works for you.

Contact us today to see how we can help you!


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