Three Graphic Design Trends For 2012

Although I’ve never been known for being ahead of the curve, with all the 2012 predictions going around I felt I’d be remiss not to share some of my own. So for better or worse, here are my top three trends to welcome in the first week of the new year. Enjoy!

1. ARTIST AS ENTREPRENEUR: Whether due to the much storied “broken” advertising agency model, poor economic outlook, lowered barriers to entry or a combination of factors, this trend continues to pick up steam. Michael Wolf does a fantastic job detailing the “whys” in his article “Why 2012 will be the year of the Artist-Entrepreneur” on GigaOm. Speaking from my own experience, I view this as a much needed renaissance. One that is key to balancing the shift towards creative content commoditization (try saying that three times fast). It can be seen in everything from the success of Etsy to the relatively recent course and degree offerings at various academic institutions such as the School of Visual Arts (SVA) “Designer as Author” MFA which is “… predicated on the growing need for content providers throughout the visual media.” Guest lectures from my personal idols Ellen Lupton and Milton Glaser, as well as many notable others are available on SVA’s site and iTunes. Other programs in this niche include New York University’s M.A. in Graphic Communications Management “…designed for communications professionals seeking to move their careers forward by sharpening their business prowess …” which focuses on cultivating management and leadership skills in all areas of Graphic Communications including graphic design and Parson’s New School for Design certificate in Design Business providing “… quick and convenient training in state-of-the-art best practices in management, leadership, and entrepreneurship for the evolving new economy.”

2. DESIGN THINKING: A good, plain language definition of design thinking can be found in this article by Fast Company. Simply put, it consists of properly defining the problem, creating and considering multiple solutions, refine a smaller sampling of options and repeat until the optimal solution is found. A more recent and in depth view at the process can be found on Innovation Management’s site here. Design thinking is sure to take it’s place along with brainstorming, rapid prototyping, flattened hierarchies and other business ideas that are quick to catch on, but much harder to do, never mind do well. Reena Jana sums up the impetus behind what she terms “design-led problem solving” quite nicely in her blog post and interview “Four experts predict 2012’s innovation and design trends” “Incubation is the next Innovation.”

3. HTML 5 IN FULL EFFECT: Development side desire for the flexibility and greater ease of open standards coupled with advertiser side pressure to take advantage of iOS traffic and Adobe’s announcement at the 2011 Adobe MAX conference that they will be “discontinuing further development of Flash Player for mobile devices” will help propel HTML 5 forward in 2012. Further helping it along are new capability developments, which according to TechCrunch include enabled content creation apps among others.

BONUS TREND: Continuing from last year and acting as a counterpoint to the cool minimalism of technology, my bonus trend pick goes to hand drawn effects and illustration, especially in advertising.

(Disclosure: the author is a graduate of New York University’s M.A. in Graphic Communications Management and Technology.)