“Is Millennial Minimalism On Its Way Out?” AIGA Eye on Design

AIGA’s “Eye on Design” webzine asked in the headline, Is Millennial Minimalism On Its Way Out? but it is the subhead of the article that caught my attention. “The next big design trend is the opposite of whatever’s happening now.” This goes without saying, most design trends seem to be, at least subconsciously, a direct reaction to what is currently popular.

Here are some of my observations that illustrate how trends are influenced by the past, and influence in a somewhat predictable way, what will come next.

l1_brody1When I first started in graphic design, in the 1980’s, the computer was new on the scene. The trend back then was for designers to leave obvious marks of computer aided design in the final piece. Boxy and pixelated was in. That was how designers could demonstrate their use of the latest technologies.

tr-computer-early80s-flight-sim  happyMac

patricknagel_anTraditional (non-computer) designers in the 1980’s were influenced by postmodern trends such as the Memphis Group, and artists such as Patrick Nagel.   At least that seemed to be the case here in Las Vegas.  

Then came the 1990’s. Looking over what was cutting edge in the ‘90’s it was clear that designers were less enamored by new technology, and a new focus on handcraft became the trend. Art Chantry, and Emigré Magazine are some great examples of the grunge era in design. Emigré was actually targeted to computer aided designers but they strove to focus on a look that didn’t make computerized design itself the end goal.

By the early 2000’s, the haphazard look of grunge was being replaced by a less chaotic but equally elaborate ornamental style, particularly in fashion. Meanwhile, the world wide web was becoming a bigger part of everyday life, and skeuomorphic design was one way to make the web accessible to new users.

18yk3cer2ztlsjpgIt’s easy to see how the simpler, minimalistic flat design of the 2010’s evolved from a rejection of the visual clutter of the early 2000’s. In between there was also a retro/handcraft look that will always have a niche with clients seeking to imply a heartfelt small town mom & pop backstory. 

To ask the question, “Is Millennial Minimalism On Its Way Out?” is to answer it. Of course people will grow tired of seeing the same design solution used over and over again. New products, new services, and new sensibilities will always inform design, as well as historic and current trends. The challenge for the designer is to moderate their desire to buck the trend just for the sake of trying something new with the public’s perception of what is pleasing, acceptable, and understandable. Holding what’s new and what’s old in tension is both a challenge and also a joy, it’s what keeps design fresh, interesting, and relevant.

I hope you enjoyed my short walk down “memory lane.”


AIGA Las Vegas, Creative Carousel

Join us on Wednesday, March 14
CSN Main Lobby Theater, “A” Building
3200 Cheyenne
Social hour begins at 6pm
Presentations begin at 7pm

I’ll be speaking on Branding, Beer, and drawing with an iPad Pro. For more info visit AIGA Las Vegas


Is the iPad Pro ready to replace your computer?

This HOW Magazine article, “For Illustrators, the iPad Pro Is (Almost) an Everyday Computer” explores the usability of the Apple iPad Pro as a professional production machine. I have to agree that the iPad Pro is “almost” ready for full production. The iPad Pro has not replaced my Macbook; but it has, for the most part, replaced my sketchbook.

Pucker_Up_Can_Label_ProposalHere is an example of my workflow that includes Procreate on the iPad Pro. The basic layout sketches are done on the iPad, and in the case of these beer can designs for a local brewery, the sketches are forwarded to the client. Unlike Emma Berger in the article, I do the final inking on the iPad. The final art for the beer cans is then finished in Adobe Illustrator on the Macbook.

I believe the iPad is changing the game of art creation. In the next few years, more and more designers and illustrators will be turning to tablets, and the iPad in particular, for their only production machine.

Watch this time-lapse video of the Pucker Up sketching process.