There are many sites out there that will tell you what is trending this year. Have you ever wondered who this mysterious trendsetter is? Is there some master craftsman that unleashes his or her genius on the world of design or is it more than one source that that sets the “trend train” in motion? By definition, a trend is “a social process in which style or taste changes.” Usually, these changes are brought on by certain personalities that desire change, bored with the current state of aesthetics.


My favorite design resources indicate that 2017 will be full of vibrant colors, bold type, hand drawn, duotones, authentic photography, minimalism, and modern-retro styles. I’m a fan of all these styles, but there’s not much that’s new here. We’ve seen all this before. However, there is a common thread running through this trend. With the world’s harsh realities streaming from every media outlet, it’s no surprise that we long for the simple and authentic to surround our aesthetic spaces. Let’s break it down.


Fortune Favors the Bold

Companies have a real challenge these days with all the competition in the marketplace to stand out. The trend of bright, vivid colors and bold type is back to grab attention, a return to Paula Scher or further back to Swiss Style. In this age of digital advertising, getting your message across quickly is key. Campaigns once started with the printed page in mind must now be able to roll over into digital spaces. Print designs are now heavily influenced by what will work on the web.


Drawing Attention

Hand drawn illustration and lettering has always impressed me. Its simplest form can be whimsical in nature or if more detailed and realistic can take on a vintage flavor. Using simply drawn elements in unexpected places breathes life into otherwise dull concepts. These kid-like sketches are popping up in business documents, presentations, and infographics. Hand lettering once only used for attracting the youth on concert and event posters has exploded into the mainstream. It is found on product labels, invitations, restaurants and coffee shops. Our culture has a newfound love for craftsmanship over manufactured. The style this lettering takes can either project a sense of rebellion or a sense of confidence. Depending on the target you’re attracting, both emotions can be a powerful motivator in consumers.


Get Real

The trend toward using authentic photography is for me the most intriguing. Consumers are now attracted to the genuine; real life as it happens. It connects with our desire for truth. We are tired of the perfectly airbrushed models, the immaculate homes. Marketing to this new consumer calls for the lived in, no makeup, Saturday morning sweatpants kind of design. It’s refreshing!


It Takes 2

Duotones have a long history going back to the beginnings of photography. Sepia toning has long been a popular photographic treatment. Duotones were popular on posters in the 60s and 70s. Lately, this traditionally printed effect is being used with vibrant colors and unusual color pairings as seen in Spotify advertising. The duotone besides being a super cool effect can be a smart choice for those needing cost effective printing solutions.



Less is more has always been a tried and true trend to follow. Its functional simplicity is smart but can be difficult to achieve. Mastering this trend takes years to perfect. When I’m designing a logo in this style, I typically start with way too many elements and have to whittle my way down to the basics. The most simplified form that still conveys the brand/idea is minimalism at its best. Apple, FedEx and World Wildlife Fund are good examples.


New Old

The Modern-retro trend seems to have some staying power. This throwback style speaks to our love of the vintage. The appeal is simplicity with a touch of nostalgia. It shows up in print on clothing tags, product packaging, wedding invitations and advertising campaigns designed to remind you of ‘the good ol’ days.’ This trend is often paired with script lettering and geometric shapes.


‘To Trend or not Trend?’ The question can be answered with the admittance that we, designers and marketers, are at our core communicators to people at this time in this culture. In order to reach our market consumer, we must take into account what they like. In short, following trends is a necessary evil in this business. One thing I have learned throughout my design career is that styles are perpetually recycled. Dare I say nothing man-conceived is truly original. Ala, we carry on in our attempts to drive our consumer, to move, act, attend, or spend.


To see the latest in design trends on Cougar paper, visit the Blueline Gallery.