Top trends in print design for 2013

You don't need to slavishly follow them, but you should know what they are. We reveal the biggest trends in print design right now.

Far from being stuck in a timewarp, print design seems to be more vibrant than ever before in 2013. Print designers aren't holding back, but experimenting more than ever in order to get their designs noticed. The cost of print may be high in contrast to sharing a design online, but the aesthetic of physically printed materials still has great impact on an audience, especially when used as part of a multi-media marketing mix. Here are some of the biggest trends in print design that every designer should be aware of right now...

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01. Flat design

Print design trends: Flat design

The flat design trend is crossing over from interface design to print design

Flat design is a simplistic design form in which 3D effects such as drop shadows, bevel and textures are purposely excluded, therefore making it stylistically 2D. Flat design is growing in influence across the web and app design, and right now we're seeing it break into the medium of print.

This series of flat illustrations called Re-Vision (above) was created by Barcelona studio Forma & Co and printed as promotional postcards and posters. An exercise in style and synthesis of different cultural icons, Re-Vision is typical of the new trend for flat design in print.

02. Typographic contrast

Print design trends: Typographic contrast

Typographic contrast is difficult to pull off, but when done well the results can be spectacular

It takes great confidence and understanding of design to pair contrasting typefaces - the elements can be as different as chalk and cheese. But when done well it can look incredible, as seen in the above illustration by Joao Santos, a Portuguese designer specialising in poster, editorial and illustration, called My Dry Wet Mess. A large scale brush typeface is complemented by a tiny sans serif, while the contrast in typefaces balances the design and creates appealing hierarchy.

03. Experimental distortion

print design trends: Experimental design

Experimental approaches show just how much impact print design can have

Even though online graphics have dominated the industry over the past few years, experimental work as shown above by Helmo go to show how much impact printed work can still have. Helmo, the independent graphic design duo of Thomas Couderc and Clement Vauchez, work mostly with cultural institutions and festivals in France; their process consists of distorting pre-existing artwork to create large scale posters.

04. Unusual paper stock

print design trends: use of paper stock

Using unusual types of paper stock is a great way to boost your print designs

Interesting paper stock will entice your target audience to interact with the outcome. Companies such as GF Smith offer a huge range of paper stocks, so there's plenty to play with. A great example of the trend is these fantastic golden tickets for 'A Design Film Festival' which launched in Singapore and has traveled to Portland, Berlin, Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Bangkok. They were created by Anonymous, an multidisciplinary studio based in Singapore.

05. Being playful

Print design trends: playful approach

A playful approach doesn't just work for child-oriented print design

The playful approach can be incorporated into more than just child-related briefs, as this eye-catching printed work for the charity Benevolent Society shows. Created by New Zealand based graphic studio Designworks, the strategic idea behind the work was overlapping a broad spectrum of colours that represent core internal pillars of love, hope, strength, wisdom and belonging creating a positive brand expression for both internal and external audiences.

Words: Aaron Kitney

Aaron Kitney is a freelance graphic designer and art director based in London and Vancouver. He specialises in branding, identity, web design, publication design, packaging and book design.

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