80s Graphic Design: A Rundown of 1980s Style

The 1980s were an undeniably vibrant decade. Between the advent of music videos, the ubiquity of neon, and the bold fashion choices that defined the era, design in the 80s was all about standing out in a colorful, postmodern world. The 80s were also were a time of quickly emerging technologies. The sudden accessibility of computers, for instance, completely revolutionized the way people thought about design in the first place. As a result, 80s graphic design are all over the place in the best possible way.

What typified the 80s graphic design styles?

It might be more accurate to say—what didn't? The 80s were a time of experimentation in graphic design, largely shaping what one would find in the decades to come. Here are a few of the most prominent styles:

Technology in 80s graphic design

As one can guess, the introduction of graphic design software during the 80s completely changed the game. Suddenly, artists could create 3D images, easily play with layout and manipulate the formatting of their work, and play with mixing fonts, weights, colors, and images in ways that wouldn't have been possible without a great deal more effort and resources before.

On top of that, the rapidly changing technology of the period also inspired much of the imagery that made its way into graphic design, including motifs centered on robotics, visions of the future, neon lighting, and the idea of the virtual avatar for the self.

Flourishes and florals: 1980s deco graphic design

Art Deco influences from the roaring 1920s made a comeback during the 80s, a trend that carried over into deco graphic design. Egyptian influences like palms, florals, and golden accents accompanied geometric symmetry and the sleek futurism of straight lines to add a touch of opulence to the traditional 80s color palette. Often set off in pastels, the look found its way into all sorts of 80s advertising, especially for luxury products.

Pops of color: Grabbing attention

Color was the name of the game in 80s graphic design. This is because an overarching theme for all trends during the decade was a desire to be extremely eye-catching in a world full of loud, eye-catching things. Using color in bold or unexpected ways was a great way to stand out from the crowd, as were unique fonts, bold letter weights, and media mixing.

What are some other 80s design trends?

Because the 80s were such a time of exploration, many diverse trends emerged simultaneously during this period. Other prominent trends from 80s graphic design include:

  • Jagged and punk-inspired fonts/lettering
  • Inspiration from graffiti and everyday urban life
  • A sense of chaotic but readable spontaneity
  • Futuristic motifs
  • Deconstructed/do-it-yourself motifs
  • Unicorns, wizards, and other mystical elements
  • Tropical prints and imagery

Given how much fun designers had playing with color, shape, and medium within 80s graphic design trends, it's no wonder that such a huge range of styles came to be associated with the decade.

Conclusion: 80s graphic design style goes retro

Because so many different styles emerged in the 80s, it's probably not that shocking that so many of these styles seem perpetually poised for a retro comeback. In fact, contemporary designers have been re-imagining the look of 80s design so well that it can sometimes be hard to tell what's original to the decade, and what's new. The upside? It appears that 80s graphic design is not in danger of going out of style anytime soon.

At CorelDRAW, we have products that will make your next 80's inspired graphic design come to life. For instance, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is perfect for helping you create a dynamic, colorful version of your vision that looks polished, eye-catching, and professional.

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