Colors and shapes are potent weapons in the hands of a skilled illustrator. With professional graphic design, it is possible to create how users perceive a brand. Whether a product will be considered chic, youthful, decadent, or subdued is primarily determined by the users’ impressions after the first look at the design. 

Although blindly following trends in graphic design is not the key to success, it is worth keeping an eye on them and being aware of which direction they are heading. Incorporating specific trends into your business image can help you reach your target group. Therefore, successfully implement your brand’s business goals.

Some illustration trends change quickly, but others stay with us for even a few years. Here are some of the trends that are most prominent in the world of digital illustration in 2023. We have some sentimental returns to the past here and some brave examples of “anti-design.” Since the trends reflect what is happening in society and culture, ‌understanding them can inspire and give you an edge over the competition. 

Trend #1: 2D/3D Illustrations 

3D illustration has been evolving for years, giving designers almost unlimited possibilities. 3D design characters have also recently made quite a noise by entering the token-form NFT market! A recent popular trend is mixing 2D and 3D techniques (straight out of the Arcane series). Characters and entire boards created in this technique are noticed very much in apps, websites, web pages, and advertising. This trend will likely grow as the range of 2D/ 3D options still seems impossible to exploit

Grzegorz Musial for Applover Full-Stack Digital Agency
Peter Tarka

Trend #2: Antidesign

Antidesign is unpredictability and breaking out of any convention or rules. For some, a mess, for others, a manifesto. One thing is sure – examples of anti-design are seeping everywhere. The most famous example is Spotify’s Wrapped slides. However, examples of anti-design can also be clearly seen in ads that don’t just promote techno events but also… technology conferences! Antidesign is undoubtedly something fresh and exciting to observe, as it rejects almost all traditional principles of design and aesthetics. 

Diany Firsta
Spotify Wrapped 2021

Trend #3: Nostalgia

For some (including ourselves), we have shocking news – kids born in the 90s and 00s are now adults. That doesn’t mean they will accept it, which is why the illustration world has gone back a decade and started reusing the nostalgic elements of the Y2K world. Primitive emoji, frames, bright colors, and fonts straight out of the first PCs or over-stylized high school teenage girls’ magazines are something all designers and users born 20/30 years ago now love. 

Alaina Johnson
Alyson Starks

Trend #3: Modernism

The architecture of modernism and its light, asymmetrical lines began to make a comeback some time ago, only to be back on top in 2023. Neutral colors, geometric shapes, and exciting curves have found their place in digital illustrations trends in 2023. It is a style that harmonizes designs and builds soothing impressions in viewers. The aesthetics of modernism are a balm for the stimulus-filled year 2023. 

Salih Küçükağa
Nikola Matošević

Trend #4: Collages and cut-outs

Creative collages have become fashionable again. Playing with scissors and paper has also made its way into the world of illustration trends and graphic design, mixing the fairy tale with the extreme avant-garde! Illustrations with textures and layering them is a clear trend in 2023, which can actually be seen in many different styles. No wonder! Collages give the impression of spontaneity and fun!

Kristyn Braden
Ricardo Santos

Trend #5: Escapism and hand-drawn illustrations

The aesthetics of the fantasy world in a romance just scored its big comeback. Hand-drawn illustrations à la Beatrix Potter inspired by the dreamy land of childhood, nature, and romance have found their way into the nostalgic trends of 2023, which, after all, love revisiting the past. While it’s not an illustration trend that finds its way into advertising or apps – it’s heavily featured on social media along with the growing vintage trend. (Just check the cottage-core tag)


Trend #6: Flat color and limited palette

The trend of using a few leading colors in illustrations in the spirit of less is more. An exciting illustration trend that is breaking out in the digital space and gives a lot of elegance to the designs. Illustrations created in this tone operate with a limited color palette, which is profoundly memorable and gives the impression of a clean aesthetic

Farzad Borousan
Farzad Borousan

Stand out from the crowd of graphic design trends

Knowledge of trends in digital illustration not only positively influences the audience’s aesthetic experience but also helps to understand better the mood that users are in and observe their needs and expectations. A graphic designer can help a brand attract a target audience through illustration style by highlighting its core values. At Applover, we are perfectly aware of this, so our projects are always supervised by qualified designers.