Colors, shapes, and texture are potent weapons in the hands of a skilled illustrator. With professional editorial visuals, 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 their direction. 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 most prominent trends in 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. In 2023, 3D design characters 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 often noticed 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 and retro elements.

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 #4: Modernism

Modernism’s architecture and 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 illustration trends in 2023.

This style harmonizes designs and builds soothing impressions in viewers. Modernism’s aesthetics are a balm for the stimulus-filled year 2023. 

Salih Küçükağa
Nikola Matošević

Trend #5: AI-generated graphics

Of course, as we move into 2023, one of the most interesting new trends in digital illustration and graphic design is the rise of AI-generated images. AI-generated graphics use complex algorithms and machine learning to create beautiful, detailed designs that can resemble a massive range of art styles, from very realistic images to surreal art with vibrant colors.

This trend significantly shifts toward more flexible and data-driven design methods, captivating with unique and exciting visual experiences on all digital platforms.”As AI continues to improve, we can expect it to play a more prominent and significant role in shaping the future of drawing. It will open up a world of new ideas and changes for graphic designers.

An illustration of a female cyborg with detailed futuristic armor and cybernetic enhancements, exemplifying the 2024 trend in digital art towards AI-generated character design.
A vibrant abstract portrait featuring explosive colors and fragmented shapes, showcasing a dynamic AI-generated illustration trend of 2024 with a focus on movement and digital art techniques.

Trend #6: 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 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 #7: 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 2023 graphic design trends

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