5 New Illustration Trends To Inspire You + Illustration Forums

illustration trends

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In this post I will be covering the top 5 new illustration trends that will inspire you to produce new and unique works of art that art fans will love. These illustration tends cover traditional illustration as well as digital illustration. The new illustration trends for this year are Art On Diversity, Minimalism, Throwback Everyday, Animation and Sustainability. When researching the trends, I wanted to give you a list of illustration trends that are different to what everyone else is writing about. Those are easy trends. You want your art to stand out from the pack. These are based on research I undertook on trending topics being covered by artists online, artists on popular illustration forums and also by artists in art galleries around the world. I have also covered illustration forums in one section so that you can stay up to date with all the latest goings on in illustration.

Ok, so some of these illustration trends might sound a little weird to start with which is why we should dive in and learn more about each one. Here we go!

The top illustration trends to inspire you

1. Art on Diversity 

Illustration Trends
Illustration Trends – Art on Diversity

With cultural phenomenons interrupting in the social spaces of all forms of media, life has imitated art and the other way around. As a result, many artists have incorporated activism into their craft to represent the struggles of minorities and bring into light the requirement of intersectionality.

In the past five years, the most common illustration trends have been art on Black Lives Matter, stop Asian hate, Women’s Rights, Disability movements, and other minority issues.

These moments have transgressed beyond our living spaces and found their way into art. Understanding this and utilizing it is a wise trend to follow if you find yourself passionate about social justice and would like to participate in it.  

The benefit of this trend is that your art can be in any style, as long as it comes with a message. The message can be uplifting, inspiring, informational on what has been happening, and cover multiple facets of each social justice movement.

There is plenty of content to take as source material for education before starting to venture into this direction of art-making.  Just do a quick Google search on any of Diversity topics and the word Art (e.g. BLM Art or Gay Rights Art) and be amazed at the artworks being created.

A quick search of the #diversity hashtag on Instagram or search Pinterest and you will see thousands of images that you can use as inspiration for your art.

2. Minimalism

Illustration Trends Minimalism 1

On the opposite side of the storm is the calm. While activism art uses emotions as its motivator, minimalist art presents serene depictions using simplistic techniques and tends to calm down the onlooker.

The art usually applies neutral colors, simple layouts, and serene graphics that aim to have a soothing effect on anyone who sees it.

This contrast from activism art makes it highly popular, especially during modern times when the news tends to sway negatively. 

More people are investing time in following minimalistic illustration trends in the era of prioritizing good well-being, mental health, and self-care.

Serene backdrops are hugely popular, especially with brands who use muted tones compared to loud and pop and flash visuals. 

3. Throwback Everyday 

As people get older, you can see them sighing to the saying, “I was born in the wrong generation” or “things just aren’t what they used to be.”

So, replicating old illustration trends and paying tribute to the iconic moments of the past is catching fever and is heavily being marketed by brands and artists alike. It is best to capitalize on this trend, for this one seems fixated to stay. 

The art trend is heavily inspired by the decades before this one. The early 2000s, the 90s, and the 80s are the most popular out of all the decades. Each decade has its defining moments that are etched into the memories of people even now.

For example, the Live Aid performances from the 90s, which had a line-up of global music phenomena such as Madonna and Queen, are often recalled as one of the best artists in union concert festivals.

Another instance is Britney Spears’ VMA performance, where she brought out a snake and sang and danced with it as part of her award show routine. That image was shared millions of times and countless artworks such as paintings and illustrations were produced.

The moments of pop culture intrigue people even when time goes back. If your generation has witnessed these pop culture moments, then it is likely your memories and music are passed onto the next.

The internet acts as a perfect tie capsule where people can navigate and browse through the shelves of the history of pop culture moments by the decade, or even revolutionary moments that happened in the past, and use it as inspiration to turn it into art.  

Remember one thing, when Andy Warhol painted Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Tomato Soup, he was painting his own throwback everyday and his artwork went on to be worth millions and he became one of the most famous artists of last century.

4. Animation

Animations have dominated the art world for the past two decades. Disney is the most prominent example of a multi-billion-dollar corporation that has capitalized on marketing animations.

However, animations have evaded all domains of the art world, from the movies on theatre screens to the advertisements that play before a video on YouTube. However, the engagement animation has it unparalleled to other forms of art.

Animations grab one’s attention instantly, and the addition of music and commentary is a convincing way to deliver your art’s message or idea.

Furthermore, animation can be about any genre or theme. It can range from horror to comedy, from period dramas to modern romances, or from science fiction to war documentaries.

This diversity attracts a massive audience for the art you make, and this trend will not disappear any time soon.

The best part is that animations can vary from short clips to hour-long pieces, and there will not be a limitation on the length of what you make as every audience is different and likes different things. 

YouTube has harbored millions of animated videos by prominent animator YouTubers or small creatives. They have been banking on their skills as animators to make huge overturns in profits. 

All you need to do is search for user generated fan animations and you will have access to thousands of videos to inspire you. See how they turned being a fan of animation into fan cartoons which you can then turn into illustrations.

These are generally referred to as Fan Art and I have a stack of posts covering this topic.

This is a link to YouTube already filtered to search for Fan Animation: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fan+animation

5. Sustainability

Sustainability 1
Speaking of Andy Warhol..

Consumerism has become more eco-conscious as the days go by. Moreover, with the raised global awareness of environmental issues, there has been a spike in ecological concerns.

People use this sentiment to drive and develop a sustainable relationship with the art, which affects the environment.

With these modern developments that are more popular than ever before, brands are opting to make sustainable choices and product designs. In addition, people on a personal scale are changing their lifestyle habits. 

So, while the pandemic made going to places and enjoying attractions take a backseat, the planet overturned its current course for a while and we saw repairs being made to the environment, especially where humans we absent for a long while.

This has influenced how art is made, what art is made, and how brands and creatives market their art.

Consumers with heightened social responsibility only commit brand loyalty if their creatives have an ideology that aligns with theirs. 

Some examples of this have been the packaging and delivery of art—people prefer paper-based deliveries instead of plastic cartons. Another example is the medium or art.

Illustrators tend to create digital prints that can be stored forever and then printed on eco-friendly material decks.

But most importantly is the message the art carries. This weighs heavy on the audience that tries to communicate and understand the art that is created.

Consumers will need to receive a physical association with nature and humans their relation to the environmental-friendly lifestyle. 

To put it into simpler words, the concept of sustainability will lead the illustrations this year. This has been predicted by researchers and art enthusiasts, and creatives who have had experience in the industry for decades.

Following a year of isolation and lockdown, this method of illustration is expected to be embraced organically.

Illustration forums you need to hit up

There are a tonne of illustration forums on the internet that cover the latest topics and what is trending in the industry. The problem with most illustration forums is that they are the home of people learning to draw, complaining about something off topic and taking up your valuable time.

Below I have listed a few of the better illustration forums that you should take a look at as many you will come across online are not worth your time (some are Scientology Ron L Hubbard fan websites disguised as illustration and writing sites, some such as Quora are just links to blogger articles and others such as Wetcanvas are just a series of questions from frustrated artists with zero answers).

Many forums provide insights into illustration trends via white papers, professional designer feedback and related posts where they discuss different types of trends and tactics that you and professionals can use to stay up to date in the industry.

So let’s take a look at the better illustration forums you should consult (in no particular order) if you actually want to :

  • Graphic Design Forum is a goldmine when it comes to illustration forums as it covers many topics and sub-topics within the industry. I have linked directly to the Traditional Illustrations category but if you move up the topic chain you will find lots more being discussed that is useful.
  • Reddit Illustration – now I probably spend too much time on Reddit as I like to keep up to date with the latest news and topics but I am also offering up a lot of my time giving free advice. Something you will also find if you join this sub-reddit.
  • Artist Forum is also a pretty good illustration forum that you may wish to take a look at.
  • Drawing America also has a good illustration forum and is a good source of drawing and illustration trends.
  • Graphic Design Forums UK has a section on Illustrations and a showcase.
  • Lastly there are Discord servers that cover illustration as a topic. These are like chat boards and require you to install Discord on your computer, tablet or phone. It’s a great tool and I use it for other purposes but I should be using it a lot more for my own illustration needs.

Illustration Trends – Wrap Up!

Design is the looking glass peeking into the world and what is happening in it. In the digital era, we can keep track of what is being posted online by creatives, and many people want to add that to their creations.

Following the trends is a great way to be an artist who knows what to produce that resonates with the audience that witnesses it and wants to invest.

Engagement in this era is the key to success, especially when there is an abundance of talent and creatives on social media. To stand out, it is essential to implement trends in your style. 

So, we hope that this article that depicted illustration trends makes its way onto your blank sketchpad to create something of marvel and excellent artistry. None of these illustration trends will disappoint.

Trying to work out what the latest illustration trends are is like trying to hit a moving target and with the digital age and social media pumping out new content every day, it is a fast moving target. The best way to see what illustrations are popular is to trawl the results from Instagram and Pinterest. Seriously it’s that easy. Use the search tools on these platforms and then refine by popularity and by most recent date.

This will give you a list of photos of the most popular illustrations for that time period as illustration trends and popularity just keeps moving all the time.

Choosing an illustration style is very subjective, it depends on your skill and ability and your interests. There is no use trying to illustrate realistic Harry Potter style drawings when your skill level limits you to cartoonish style illustrations. If that is the case you can learn and take courses on how to illustrate realistically but in the meantime, work to your strengths.

Focus on what you can do and what you do well. If you don’t like illustrating to your skill level, then there are heaps of courses you can attend in person or online or even better, you can learn via YouTube or other online resources for free and you practice and practice until you perfect your art and skill.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share this post with your artist friends as every little help we can get will be appreciated.

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Joe Colella - Chief Wasted Talent
Joe Colella – Chief Wasted Talent

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