Abstract Graphic Design: A Rundown of the Abstract Style

The use of abstraction in graphic design has many purposes and can achieve countless effects. Abstract graphic designs represent things differently from the way you see or experience them in reality. In the abstract style, various elements of design are put together to create an interesting composition that could lead the viewer to think or react in a certain way, even though it doesn't look like a specific object.

History of the abstract art style

The abstract art style became popular in the early 1900s. Artists gave themselves freedom to use shapes, colors, and subject matter in new ways. Instead of creating a representation of a flower, the artist may have experimented with the colors found in the flower without using the shapes of the petals and stem. This non-representational art conveyed the artist's interpretation of the flower in a unique and individual way. The viewer may not completely understand the artist's interpretation, but the viewer still feels the impact of the art. Artists who first embraced the spirit of abstraction over form include:

The abstract style took off in different movements, including Cubism, Futurism, Abstract Expressionism, and Minimalism. These artists used the abstract style in their paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Abstract graphic design artists today are heavily influenced by these pioneers of the abstract style.

Basic principles of the abstract style

Abstract art can be difficult to define and talk about because it doesn't seem to follow a specific formula. Don't be fooled, though. Abstract design is not synonymous with chaos. There are a few basic principles you should keep in mind as you experiment with the abstract style.

The center of interest

Your design should have an area that draws the most attention to itself. This is the center of interest. If you imagine your design divided into three sections horizontally and three sections vertically, as in a tic-tac-toe grid, the center of interest should exist at one of the intersections those lines make.


Consider each corner of your design. An engaging abstract design usually has something different in each corner. This principle will help you remember to use more variety.

Diagonal lines

An abstract design that has a diagonal thrust is bound to be more visually interesting and powerful than a design that is based on horizontal and vertical lines. Diagonals add action and a sense of unbalance that could be exciting to your viewer.


Using a variety of values adds interest to your design. If all the colors are the same value, your design may appear monotone or weak. Creating a contrast of values throughout your composition will help you convey messages. High contrast may add mystery and suspense. A design composed of a full value scale can feel complete and pleasing.


The term rhythm is usually used in the study of music, but when applied to art, it can help describe a design that is abstract. A rhythm of forms, such as repeated circular shapes, can become the subject of the design itself. Since abstract art doesn't necessarily resemble a picture, the way the lines, shapes, colors, and values repeat themselves throughout the design is just as important as anything else in the design.


The basic design elements are line, shape, color, texture, type, value, and space. All designs, whether they are abstract or not, depend upon these basic elements. Abstract graphic designs may not represent something that you see out in the world, but they do feel true and complete when their basic elements are used in a pleasing manner. Through color, shape, and use of space, your viewer can understand your design even if it does not look like a dog or a book or a landscape.

Abstract art may be difficult to teach, but when you understand the basic elements of design, you can intuitively get a good feel for what is effective in your abstract designs. Use CorelDRAW as a tool to flesh out your complex ideas by creating a design that captures its essence rather than its details.

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