Maya Angelou once said You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
While I love Angelou’s writing, I disagree with her. After all, hasn’t every creative person encountered a time when they’ve run out of ideas?
That’s why I reached out to our design team here at Printful—they gave me the inside scoop on current design trends you can use when you need inspiration for new product designs. Plus, I’ll give you some great tips on how to create stellar visuals with Printful tools.
Ready to get started? Let’s jump right in!
With the world in such a dark place for the last couple of years, it’s no surprise that people are now turning to bright colors in their product designs. Yellow will be particularly popular this year, as it has dominated the runways, from soft pastels to vivid neons.
Having knowledge of color theory will help you find the right shade, mix and match colors, and create a well-balanced, vibrant design.
Want to go crazy with the bright colors? 90s-inspired designs would be perfect for this. Millennials are nostalgic for the 90s, a time when they were younger and had fewer responsibilities. Use that nostalgia to your advantage and create designs with a 90s aesthetic. You can incorporate neon colors, abstract shapes, and throwback fonts to give it that 90s feel. It’s a great way to jump on the vibrant colors trend.
Bonus tip! To be extra confident that your design turns out as you envisioned it, I’d recommend reading our color matching guide.
Next up is the elusive optical illusion. These are images that trick your brain into seeing things that don’t exist or seeing them from two different perspectives.
This trend has been featured by some of the world’s largest luxury brands, like Gucci and Prada. Moschino even created an entire collection based on optical illusions in 2017! Now optical illusions are making a comeback, so why not hop on the bandwagon and give them a try?
One particular variation that you can experiment with is the hybrid illusion. It’s an image with overlaying semi-transparent visuals and it’s perceived by the human eye in two different ways, depending on the viewing distance. You’ll get the best results if you create all-over print products with this style because the all-over print technique offers the possibility to create semi-transparent designs, unlike direct-to-garment (DTG). Transparent or semi-transparent graphics don’t translate well in DTG printing. You can learn more about it here.
For this example, I’ve used an all-over print hoodie to create a simple text design. You can see the word create from a distance, and as you come closer, you can see the other part of the message become visible.
Not sure if optical illusions are your thing? Keep reading to find out if embroidery is a better fit!
This all-time classic design technique takes a spot among the top trends this year as well. Embroidery represents a bold, personal, and fresh take on products that otherwise might seem ordinary.
In 2022, there are two trends in embroidery that you should pay attention to—floral patterns and animal-inspired designs.
Floral patterns have been in fashion one way or another for a long time, but this year embroidered floral patterns will be particularly popular, according to fashion gurus.
Topics like sustainability and animal welfare have received increasing attention worldwide, so using animal imagery in your designs will attract potential shoppers who’re interested in these issues. Plus, visuals with animals and flowers are incredibly versatile—you can create designs for children and adults alike.
An easy way to experiment with floral embroidery is by using our Design Maker. We offer a clipart collection with minimalistic nature-inspired designs that you can pair with text captions. This way, you can apply minimal effort to try out this trend in your store.
The main thing to remember is that custom embroidery isn’t printing, so it requires an entirely different approach to creating a successful design. Gradients, drop shadows, distressed textures, and shading aren’t possible, and you can only use solid colors and shapes in your designs. To be sure that your embroidered design looks great, always order a sample first.
If you want to give embroidery a shot, here’s an in-depth video about embroidery guidelines to help you out.
Last but not least, here’s a trend that’s making a comeback—art deco. This art style originated in France in the 1920s and has had a huge impact worldwide in the visual arts, architecture, and design. Compared to the other entries on our list, this trend is often associated with opulence, so the end result usually has a luxurious feel.
Some of the most common elements of art deco design include:
The designs usually consist of two or three colors at most—one for the background, and the other one (or two) for the letters and displayed elements.
You can express yourself in the graphic editing software of your choice or use Printful’s Design Maker to make art deco designs. If you’re making your own designs, here are three simple techniques you can use to create art deco-inspired visuals:
Textured gradients are widely used in many art deco illustrations to achieve that subtle, yet grainy, look. Those little specks you see on screen resemble the careful airbrushing techniques from the early twentieth century. This art of airbrushing was common across art deco posters in particular.
Experiment with Sans Serif fonts
Art deco style is often recognized by decorative, even exaggerated Sans Serif fonts. Thanks to their interesting angles and pronounced curves, these fonts feel elegant yet understated, like in the example below:
The hallmark of art deco design is symmetry, especially vertical symmetry, so if you want to create a visual that’ll remind everyone of the roaring twenties, symmetry is a must-have.
Not in the mood to create designs from scratch? Don’t fret! Our graphics team is here to help. They’ve added a wide range of art deco shapes, backgrounds, and elements that you can incorporate in your custom designs. It only takes a couple of clicks to create art deco pattern designs for posters, pillows, and blankets that you can bundle together as a 2022 collection in your store.
I hope this article has given you some inspiration for new designs that you can experiment with when you’ve run out of ideas.
My last bit of wisdom: if you’re struggling to find inspiration, I recommend a tactic (with a rather unflattering name) that’s often used by writers—the brain dump. Just sit down and start designing whatever comes to mind. Don’t think about any specific ideas or techniques, just allow your random feelings, ideas, and subconscious thoughts to flow onto the page. This way, you’ll learn to unleash ideas faster, without critique. Then, later on, you can organize your designs and create something you feel satisfied with. And voilà, you’ll have your design!
Marta is a Content Marketing Specialist at Printful with a background in Social Anthropology. She's passionate about marketing, UX research, and the Oxford comma.
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