by Justin Difazzio
Welcome back to OC Creative’s three part series covering predicted design trends for 2021. Today we’ll be covering the wide world of typography. Arguably the most important part of any design, the typography conveys the literal message of a design. Sure, this can be conveyed in symbols and other elements of design, but if you have something to say, typography is the quickest way to say it. Of course, it’s not that simple. We’re not going to just accept Times New Roman on a book cover or Courier New in the middle of a cereal box. Text has to do more in a design. It has to catch the eye as much as color and line and all those amazing elements of design we talked about before. And, of course, if you want to turn heads, it has to be on trend. What trends, you ask? These trends, we answer.
If you’ve looked at logotypes lately, you have probably noticed that most logos use all caps for their letters. The ubiquity of this design choice makes it hard to stand out in an environment where brands are all apparently shouting for your attention. This first trend is a reaction to that graphical crowding. If you want to stand out in the crowd, alter your baseline. Slant it, crunch it, bend it, twist it, bop it. Sorry, got carried away. Where were we? Right. Altering your baseline for text can alter the size of your caps, and it creates a little visual interest in a world of caps lock. It won’t ruin the uniformity of the caps, either. Bonus!
Look out. The 70s are returning in a big way. You know what I’m talking about: groovy curves, bright colors used together, and a general hippie retro vibe. This could be the result of one of the design trends from our last entry: an emphasis on natural designs, curvy lines inspired by things found in nature, etc. I’m not sure you should dust off your bell bottoms and platform shoes just yet, as decade-based design choices don’t usually stick around for long. Hop on this one early if it fits the message you’re trying to send.
Boom! Zap! Pow! Guff! If you know the old Adam West Batman cartoons or the number of parodies in popular media, you’ll be familiar with dynamic lettering pulled straight from the pages of a comic book. But it’s not all explosive rays and exclamation points. Look for movement lines, text transformations that show movement, and other typography that looks like it’s headed anywhere else but here. Catch this trend before it races off and leaves you in the lurch.
Here’s another typography trend that shares roots with some of the trends in graphic design this year. Geometrics are huge, and text will embrace that in a specific way this year. Think angular letters, focal points with acute bends, and general pointiness in logotype and design across the board. We’re curious to see how this will couple with the groovy 70s revival and natural designs that are also in fashion this year.
Have you ever been in a group project and felt like the one carrying the weight of the assignment and the workload while everyone else just did the bare minimum? Have we got a trend for you! The clever use of hero letters, characters which hold a design together and help to get the message across, are already blowing up in design. Often, there’s a graphical element included here, like an M that looks like a mountain or a letter that links the rest together graphically like an S that becomes a snake winding through the rest of the letters. Something like that. It’s something else we’re excited about, since clever design really tickles us. If you feel like using this technique, though, use sparingly. Sure, you might want every letter in a word to do equal lifting to make it fair, but if all the letters are hero letters, doesn’t that just make all of them regular letters? Just don’t get too crazy with it.
Consider yourself warned. Text is about to get deep. Like, really deep. Alongside the graphic design trends leaning 3D this year, typography is adopting solid shadows, turning flat lettering into living shapes in a design. No matter what the font, no matter what the message, this dive into three dimensions is everywhere right now, and you shouldn’t be surprised to see it stretch into the world of typography either.
Typewriter Font (With a Twist)
Remember when we said you couldn’t get by with slapping some Courier New on something and calling it done? Well, that’s not entirely true, actually. The last trend we’re predicting for 2021 is typewriter font, but with a graphic twist. This stands in stark contrast to the busy 70s trend, the depth of solid shadows, and the dynamic lettering that will crowd the landscape. And that is precisely why this will be an effective trend in the coming year. Think plain black text on a white background, maybe one letter or word in a different color. Nothing crazy. But maybe one word emphasized to hint at the subject matter. Less is more here, in design philosophy and in practice, which might be a nice change from last year’s barrage of everything all at once.
Here’s to 2021
Now you’ll be prepared to grab some of the attention your typography-heavy designs are due. Keep your eyes open while you’re watching commercials, traveling where there are billboards, and when you’re checking out new products. See if you can spot any of these trends in action.
In the third and final installment of our predictions for 2021, we’ll be talking about web design trends, one of our favorite topics around here. Miss the first installment? Check out the first part here, where we discuss graphic design trends.