October 22, 2020

The Return of 90s Graphic Design Trends

There is no denying the fact that the 1990s was a decade defined by the melding of different genres, styles, and cultures. The 90s was all about disregarding the standard rules and experimenting with graphic design. 

That is why it is no surprise that these 90s design trends are making such a comeback in the year 2020. This year has made many individuals nostalgic for a simpler time, but has also given us the opportunity to reinvent the wheel in new ways, especially when it comes to social media design trends. 

Anti Design 

Normally, graphic design trends seek perfection and aesthetically pleasing content. Anti design graphic design is the complete opposite – it seeks to represent the true chaos of the world in protest of beauty and grace. 

The anti design graphic design trend can be classified as an expression of rebellion. It is meant to bend and stretch the standard rules of graphic design

The most ironic part of anti design is that it takes skill and experience to truly master. Designers must first know the rules of graphic design in order to know how to break them. 

The most common elements of this 90s design trend are unorthodox layouts, maximalism, exaggeration, bizarre fonts, and distortion. These radical elements allow brands to create raw and authentic content, that is attention-grabbing. 

Given its self-proclaimed ugliness, a majority of the audience will not necessarily like the outcomes of the anti design trend. But this does not necessarily mean the trend is not effective. Anti design is meant to draw the attention of the user to the advertisement and express a clear message about the brand or product depicted. 


Inspired by graffiti and the underground music community, this 90s design trend broke the rules of traditional graphic design with experimental and gritty design elements. 

Over the years, grunge style has become increasingly popular in forms of posters, magazines, album covers, digital art, and social media. 

Due to its realistic design, grunge is able to accurately reflect the world we are living in. If used sparingly, companies can use grunge design elements to liven up their brand and convey their personality. 

The most common elements found in grunge graphic design are dirty backgrounds, ripped edges, uneven lines, crooked objects, as well as distressed fonts and textures. It is also characterized by hand drawn elements and cutouts of real life imagery that are extremely stylistic and industrial. 

Grunge material can be easily identified by its subdued and dirty color palette, complete with black, red, green, yellow, beige, brown, and grey. 

All of these design elements and color choices work together to influence the mood of the audience and influence them to act in a certain way. 

Pop Culture 

In every sense of the phrase, the 90s was a cultural reset in terms of fashion, music, movies, and design. Despite occurring at the same time, 90s pop culture was the complete opposite of the grunge movement. 

The 90s pop culture is defined by vibrant colors, tacky fonts, abstract shapes, and funky patterns. Nowadays, the pop culture graphic design trend is described as gaudy, tasteless, and even controversial at times. However, it has become an incredibly popular social media design trend.

Two of the most popular design elements that have made their comeback in 2020 is the Comic Sans font and Memphis style graphics. 

Many brands are incorporating this graphic design trend into product anniversary campaigns or re-releases. This design gives brands the opportunity to bring back the classics and make their users feel nostalgic, and ultimately, purchase the products once again. 

The 90s pop culture trend even works for the younger generation or new customers that have never used your products or purchased services from your brand. This is due to anemoia, which means being nostalgic for a time you have never known or lived through. 


Similar in a way to grunge, the 90s rave movement was heavily influenced by the underground music community surrounding house music and cyberpunk. 

graphic design

If we had to sum up the rave graphic design trend in one word, it would be “psychedelic.” It commonly uses a combination of neon colors, bold typography, experimental patterns to create a powerful and futuristic feel. Much like most of 90s culture, the rave trend was designed to reject the norms and breach the standard design rules. The combination of surrealism and grotesqueness is not only unusual, but visually compelling to all audiences. 

This unlimited freedom and creatively allows brands to convey feelings and energy through their content to users, similar to how an individual feels when listening to rave music. 

This graphic design trend is mainly used for posters, flyers, digital artwork, videos, and cover photos. 

If you would like more information about avoiding 90s graphic design trends, need help managing your graphic design strategy, or other digital marketing services please contact Pink Dog Digital at (410) 696-3305, email us at info@pinkdogdigital.com, or visit us on the web at www.pinkdogdigital.com.

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