Graphic Design Techniques from the 80s are Taking Us Back to the Future

Graphic Design Techniques from the 80s are Taking Us Back to the Future

We are living in a modern fraternity of 80s nostalgia. The impact of this iconic era can be seen evidently in fashion and design today, like in Urban Outfitters’ $40 VHS tapes or the logo design of Stranger Things on Netflix. This aesthetic has reigned over other trends for decades not, whether it is pastel gradients or bright girds. The retro fonts from the 80s have gradually changed typography and the kinds of trends we expect to see from graphic design in 2020. The past few years in this field have seen an amalgamation of bold prints, color palettes and interesting clashing of patterns. Why is this kind of technique so popular, even today?

80s designs were considered to have great merit despite the brashness of their tones. Mind-bending gradients and chain print elegance have combined with technological advances today to feature more futuristic components. But that’s not all there is to this story.

A Look into the Past

Looking into some popular design choices in the past is very much like looking into the future. In 2020, graphic design will become accustomed to reservations and will collectively be more harmonious and natural, except for abstract illustrations. The latter is a prime example of what was heavily featured and sold to the public in the 80s. This shift is a reaction to the perception of the 80s design trends which were unique in essence and not part of a corporate marketing strategy. In 2020, the trends and techniques we will see are a combination of the principles of the 80s: big, loud, and lavish. This has become a way for interactive designers to use the past as a tool for the future.

The Children of the 80s

There are no set rules for designs inspired by this era and it goes beyond a seemingly visual element with its underlying motifs. Interactive designers who were born in the 1980s are revisiting the elemental design they grew up with. These “children of the 80s” are bringing back outmoded and stair-stepped graphics into the future of design and artwork. Think of it as the return of Pac-Man and its highly saturated tiles making a comeback. These are now being used in Apple’s cheery iOS 7, a prime example of how designers who grew up in the 80s are willing to take things to the next level. And it is not just focused on smaller graphics: the change is everywhere.

Graphics in Web Design

Web designers have played their own integral role in this comeback. They have been employing the bright tones and full washes of color to enhance a site’s background. This is done in the spirit of revisiting early Nintendo games, such as the 80s classic Super Mario Brothers. Graphic design is so embedded within our modern world that any change at all will have a significant impact on people and their lives. What started off as a long journey from stone tools to the digital tablets we possess today has spanned decades of change and modifications, only to take a ride back to its boldest era.

In Popular Culture

The postmodern vision of revolutionary design was not adopted until the 80s. Sottsass was an Italian architect and designer in the 20th century. He was able to proceed with his ideas in 1981 when he parted ways with another radical Italian design group, founded by his friend and rival, Mendini. A group of young designers was approached who would reach international stardom in the upcoming years. These included infamous graphic designers like Michele de Lucchi, Shiro Kuramata, Hans Hollein, and Michael Graves. Their influences along with the mentorship of Sottsass led to an influential shift that has been recounted by today’s designers as a foundation. They provided the building blocks to assemble a pixelated playground, which we use today to fuse past visual aesthetics with present-day graphic logos design techniques.

Taking Back the Glory of the 80s

Everything that was considered to be outmoded about the 80s is making its way to 2020. This can be seen in the reproduction of Apple’s iOS interface with mimicked lines, scroll bars and panels as rendered in this previous era. The 80s were less about communicating messages and serving society: they were more about manipulating colors and shapes. This is now being recognized globally and is making a new breakthrough in the upcoming year. Postmodern design work is borrowing ideas from the past and even in a year as advanced as 2020, the glory of the 1980s is withstanding.


The 80s were all about boldness and grabbing people’s attention. With its big, blocky text and risky design choices, graphic designers were allowed to take their work to a different level. Today, we use computer graphics in an effortless way to recreate the classic 80s look, which is widely accepted yet a surprising revelation.

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