"This list will be contributing to the enormous weight of ephemera in the world, rather than taking a stand against it.” (Belfast Telegraph, 2004)
But isn’t that what design is all about? Personally I love trends; they keep life interesting and fresh.
Here are my must haves for the year…
Unusual paper stocks
Bring your work to life with the wide range of stocks available. Gone are the days that litho print had a great range of stocks and digital only had a select few. You can find a huge range of digital stocks nowadays, from pearlescent to laid to portfolio stocks like Hahnemühle. The paper you choose will ultimately determine how well your designs come off to clients. You also need to bear in mind how paper affects the colour on your print and what you are trying to achieve. It can enhance, but equally can turn out slightly darker or lighter than your image.
Tip for InDesign: change your paper layer to the colour of your paper, so you can see how the final print will turn out, it’s not totally accurate but will give you a good idea (make sure to turn on overprint preview!).
I’m not personally fond of stock imagery unless absolutely necessary, but let’s be honest—a lot of the time we physically don’t have the budget or time to organise or find a decent setting for a very specific photo. Where possible, try and get into real life photography, natural images of people and products always work so much better.
Take Apple for instance: they focus heavily on great big product shots and it really sells. I think the focus of 2014 will be using much more tailored shots. Real life is much better—real people using real products will always give your customers more confidence. Even when showing off your portfolio, shots of designs that are printed and open work so much better than flat images of your design pulled out of a PDF.
If you want to try product photography for yourself, I recommend this guide.
This has been around forever but I think it’s going to be even more important this year. Nothing communicates a message better than a well-crafted piece of typography! A logo, advert, invitation, poster or a boring piece of copy can be brought to life and made more readable and exciting by adopting typographic principals. You can see some great examples of this here.
Why not try something as simple as a giant headline in a more artistic or skinny font and then the rest of the body in a simple readable font? Contrasting fonts can come in many different forms: from simple weight, size and form (upper and lowercase, condensed etc.) to the direction. The late typographer Carl Dair explains it beautifully here.
This used to be down to a specialist employed solely to create amazing images, but now it is accessible to everyone. Get to grips with some Photoshop tutorials and try it out for yourself. Some of the most intriguing campaigns are done with edited images. I don’t feel like there’s enough good Photoshop work out there these days, which is disappointing when you consider how good some of its features have become. Check out some great examples here of image manipulation. All it takes is time and patience on a weekend to play around with it, set yourself a target and try to replicate it; you’ll learn some amazing things.
Another great effect is mock double exposure—you can easily now create the same effect as double exposure on a camera without the knowledge. Take the HBO True Detective series opening sequence as an example, it has amazing examples of layering and mock double exposure. View a great tutorial for this here.
Top tip for Photoshop: use ‘edge detection’ when cropping out people, it works wonderfully.
Get hold of a drawing tablet and create your own set of vector icons; they look great and are really effective. Get rid of all the stock vectors from your work and let the designers do what they do best. Icons really aren’t that hard to create from scratch, they just need ample time to get right.
This is all part of the ‘authentic’ and ‘hand-crafted’ trend. Artist-drawn vectors remind users that there’s a real person behind the process. Hand drawn vectors will give any brand its own style, and like good typography, it can bring a page to life. Whether for a small business (like a cupcakery or wedding stationer) to large corporates (use icons to break up the annual report), or flourishes for a mailer, a logo, stamp or sticker. They are increasingly important and amazing when they’re done well!
A lot of the styles out there currently are retro trends with a modern twist, but the real trick to getting them right to is to add your own flair. Get yourself up to date on everything Photoshop and Illustrator has to offer and it will bring so much more inspiration to your next campaign.
Good luck, until next time.