Should You Be Wary Of Trends?

I would like to start a discussion about following trends.

I was reading a chapter of AIGA Professional Practices in Graphic Design which was saying that the champions of design have signature styles and it is tragic that often companies want what is trendy and not what is truly artistic.

As a young designer it’s hard to not copy trends. Trends flood design annuals and competitions for us to see and get inspiration. Whether college taught me this or I just did it to pass, I tried to learn design by copying trends. I wanted to be versatile, so instead of focusing on my style, I learned several different ones. So here I am with several different styles in my portfolio, and trying to look like I understand the trends of the industry.

Image by Project M·A·R·C via Flickr

Trends seem to sell. In the last season of Project Runway, Gretchen won the competition partly because she had an eye on fashion trends. Companies seem to like trends and they hire designers; therefore, shouldn’t I be somewhat trendy?

Are trends really that bad? Perhaps they can kill our own creativity and voice. I came across Mitch Goldstein’s blog. He is getting his MFA at and writes, “Design should not be about regurgitating trends, having a cool studio, or being an AIGA member. Design should be about how the designer relates to the world around them, and how they translate that into interesting stuff.” His statement reminds me of my studio art roots. I believe that fine art should be an expression of the human experience in the world. By following trends, designers seem to lose their ingenuity.

Successful designers have a balance of understanding trends and having his or her own voice so they can sell and yet still be themselves. When you design, do you worry about good design or something original?

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Consider Paper

Paper is the mat and frame for your designs. Just like there is variety in paint finishes, there is variety in paper. Choose from mat to glossy, white to cream, 90 lb. to 180 lb, textured to smooth. Should you round the corners? Should you use recycled paper?

Metallic is great for replicating package surfaces. This picture is a student project designing a fictional special edition holiday line for Ugly Mug Coffee.

Try staining paper. The length of time in the tea affects the color.

Tea stains can give an aged, classic, or western look.

Textured paper in different colored tones.

Take a look at your favorite magazines or catalogs or store’s brochure. The paper they choose should reflect their brand and their message.  How many eco-friendly products aren’t printed on something recycled or at least look like they do?  How many cutting edge magazines don’t have a sheen to them? If they don’t, should they?

Pei Wei menu paper compared to Chipotle menu.

Whole Foods coupon book, Urban Outfitters catalog, and Dallas art news. Note the color saturation difference between papers, especially in the black.

New York University interest mail stands out with paper texture layering.

Scion promotional disguises itself in newsprint the size of an atlas.

Inside spread.

Local print shops can have expand your knowledge in paper. If they are knowledgeable, they understand how ink reacts to the paper which affects your design. They also can have a variety in paper as well as stores like Paper Source and Hobby Lobby.

Paper Companies can have the best sample books for not only indulging in the product but also in the design of presenting it. Check out French Paper Co. and Clampitt for ideas, products, and education.

Good Design Made My Life Better

I realize I may be taking a risk talking about this, but I think it’s worth it. I promise I’m only going to talk about design.

The design is fun, feminine, modern, and makes me feel more comfortable about myself which is why I smile every time I open another package and why I feel inspired to make the mundane of the world something more exciting.

I adore Kotex’s new brand look. I use to think of Kotex as an old lady brand but with their new design, I don’t want to buy anything but Kotex. Finally something that I’m excited to get out of the box every month because of the colors and playfulness. I also appreciate the smallness of each package and the added education to each box. I think many girls and even women are embarrassed about the subject and therefore aren’t properly educated about their own selves. All in all, the design is a success in my book. I’m happy and so are they. So designers let’s keep making life a little better.