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 Lettering

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.

*current subscribers – just enter your email to get the sheets in your inbox!

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?

Dwelling Spaces

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!

Tropics

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.

Statements/Advice

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…

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