2021 Illustration & Lettering Trends
If you watch my classes you know I’m all about finding your personal style and sticking to it, BUT it’s also important to be aware of design trends if your goal is to sell your work or build your following to gain exposure for your work.
I compiled some of my favorite illustration trends that are popping up in this year. If you’re in need of some ideas for keeping your work on trend (aka marketable to buyers and followers), then check out these illustration trends that you can start incorporating into your work now!
Spoiler: The 70’s and 90’s are back! Sorry if you hated those decades.
Messy, funky, playful, and illustration filled lettering is being shared all over social media, product design, and fashion. Maybe it’s because funky 70’s fashion and colors are seeping their way into our consciousness, or maybe it’s because hand lettering often has such a close relation to typography and letterers are trying to break away from that.
Or maybe it’s because we’ve all spent too much time indoors this year and are LOOSING IT so we just can’t write straight anymore. Either way, incorporating some of this looseness into your work can help you start tapping into this growing trend.
Want to try out this letter style?
I made a set of practice sheets to help you get started with incorporating some funky, messy letters into your work.
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Plants & Greenery
I think this trend is another symptom of how much time we’ve all spent indoors this year. We are craving nature in our homes, especially those of us who live in cities without much access to outdoor spaces.
You can add your greenery into illustrations in the expected places like potted plants and gardens, but you can also pop plants into just about any vessel! A bouquet in a coffee cup? Why not?
We’ve all spent a lot more time getting to know the indoors this year and I know I can’t be the only one who spent a lot of that time doing home improvement projects. We’ve all had to learn to love “home” this year and I think it’s caused a bit of an obsession with cute houses/architecture in illustration.
You can draw from your own home as inspiration, or live vicariously through someone in some far off country that you want to travel to. I traveled to Greece a few years ago and have not been able to get the curved, stucco filled architecture out of my mind!
Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone is moving to Bali? The beach life/tropical plants are always a popular illustration topic, but they seem to be making a huge comeback this year as we all dream of waking up on some tropical beach somewhere.
You can incorporate this theme into your illustrations in a small way by adding in some fruit trees or tropical plants, or by placing your figures in a jungle or on a beach.
Bold statements (political, social, religious, etc.) and advice are making a huge mark on the Instagram landscape this year. You don’t have to be a genius to share your advice though! Just share your own experience with whatever it is you know about, and tell a story with your work. People love hearing the story behind and artists work, so give the people what they want and share a bit about yourself on your social channels.
The 90’s is Coming!
The 90’s is coming back in fashion, colors, waistlines, and illustration too. That means bold colors, chunky letters, and lots of hair gel. I think towards the end of 2021 we’ll be deep into a 90s “regression”, so I’m already starting to come up with 90’s palettes…
In this class you’ll learn all the steps for combining lettering and illustration to create compositions that both tell a story and are visually interesting!
Learn how to use layered texture and color to add depth and visual interest to your illustrations. We’ll look at how to create overall textures, how to use texture to create highlights and shading, and how to use single and multi colored texture to bring out warm and cool tones in your illustrations.
Learn how to design a pattern collection on your iPad from start to finish. I’ll show you options for making your repeat elements in both Procreate and Affinity designer, so you can choose which option works best for you!
Learn how to create 70s style hand lettering and decoration from start to finish. We’ll cover everything you need to know to add the kind of bold color, drastic variation, and playful decorations that were so popular in the 70s and are now popping up all over in the design world on stationary, clothing, home decor.
Learn how to create limited color illustrations and palettes on your iPad in Procreate. We’ll cover every step of the process from building new palettes to creating illustrations that are ideal for limited palettes.
In this class, you’ll learn three different ways to use ink lines and dots to add shadow, highlights, and depth to your work. We’ll look at tons of tips and tricks for hatching, crosshatching, and stippling, and talk about how to add bold color to your linework to add variation and contrast that makes your work stand out online and in print.