The Art of Minimalism in Graphic Design

Post by
William Griffiths
The Art of Minimalism in Graphic Design

The Art of Minimalism in Graphic Design

Graphic design has always been such a complicated field to navigate through, and in the present day, that’s never been more accurate. There are so many different factors to consider with any piece of content you produce, and there are endless ideologies that are constantly fighting against one another in the mind of a designer.

One such example of that is minimalism. This is a concept that won’t be unfamiliar to many of those reading this, and today, we want to take a deeper dive into this term and figure out what it really means and how it contributes to the field.

Graphic design is, in so many ways, truly magical - and the growth of minimalism in recent decades has given us a fascinating insight into what it means to redefine a design piece and generally change the game.

With that being said, let’s get into it.

What is minimalism?

Minimalism is something many of us will hear about on a weekly, and potentially even daily basis, depending on the nature of our job — but rarely do we get the chance to sit down and sift through the nonsense. At the core of its definition, minimalism is an artistic movement that can best be defined in a very straightforward way: keeping things simple.

Minimalism is a design or style in which very few elements are used to create a maximum impact for the audience. It’s a case of stripping back to the bare essentials and making the most of very few objects or techniques. From the wording to the presentation to the patterns you use, the basic idea is that you don’t always need to cram as much as possible into one given thing.

In a general sense, this can extend to different parts of your own day-to-day life - but we’re here to talk about graphic design. This form of expression has been around for quite some time, with artists from across the globe deciding to express themselves in a way that doesn’t overcomplicate things. You take what you know works and what you like, and you remove that which feels necessary.


The origins of minimalist design

Minimalist design has been developing over many, many decades now with influences coming from every imaginable direction. It was conceived by a variety of prominent artists so that you could quite easily create a masterpiece in visual arts without having to go above and beyond, and ever since, so many others have taken that idea and run with it.

This art form first came along in the post-World War II landscape in the West, particularly in New York.  It slowly but surely grew in popularity in the 1950s and really burst into life as a major aesthetic in the 1960s and 1970s. Culturally speaking, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is often cited as one of the first big stewards of minimalist design.

The likes of Frank Stella, Donald Judd, and Anne Truitt have worked hard to carry that legacy forward and really bring it into the new age. In the present day, minimalism is everywhere we look, both in society and in design - and we can’t see that changing anytime soon. After all, it’s already so deeply embedded in the culture that it’d feel strange to deviate away from it.

The benefits of minimalist design

There are undoubtedly going to be a few out there who are screaming at their screens with everything they’ve got. Whether it be due to personal preferences or bad experiences, some folks simply don’t like or appreciate minimalism.

Of course, we’re here to take a look at the other side of the coin, which is why we’ve decided to list a few of the benefits that minimalism can have in graphic design. A few may seem pretty obvious, but hey, that’s the theme, right?

1. Hierarchy

The hierarchy in any piece of work is going to be seen as absolutely critical. When you establish a hierarchy, your aim is to emphasise certain characteristics of the design in order of priority and importance. From the size to the alignment, it’s important to have a structure in mind before you really kickstart your project - and with minimalism, things get a whole lot easier.

When you don’t have so many plates spinning in the air, there’s a certain peace that floods over the design process. Instead of trying to make everything work in sync, you get to take a step back and really make all the pieces of the puzzle feel like they have a place. It’s bold, it makes a statement, and we tend to feel like it increases audience retention.


2. Composition

Composition is a really interesting topic to discuss when it comes to graphic design because it’s so easy to let your imagination get away from you. In essence, composition pulls together a bunch of different players to form a super team. In other words, if we’re stepping away from sporting metaphors, it takes images, text, graphics and colours and forms one super concise design.

You don’t need us to tell you that there’s always the risk of this looking a bit messy. For designers, there’s a thin line between striking the perfect chord and overthinking it. When you’re working with a minimalistic design, you actually find yourself scrutinising what exactly you can do with so few options — which, in our view, allows your creativity to really shine and breathe.


3. Shining typography

In a very, very broad sense, it just has to be said that minimalistic work — when done right — looks a whole lot cleaner. It’s not clunky, there aren’t a million and one things to look at, and it comes across as being pretty professional. There are exceptions to the rule, but this tends to be true, and that’s certainly the case with typography.

When you’re trying to be a bit “out there” and extravagant, there can always be a temptation to create (or use) a larger-than-life font face. That isn’t always a bad thing, but in minimalism, less is more — if you haven’t guessed that already. A simple, clean-cut piece of typography is pivotal, and it just makes the design more readable. The last thing you want is for your work to feel cluttered.

4. Negative space

For those who don’t know, negative space is the blank area that you see around an image or a piece of writing in a design — which is then incorporated into the actual design itself. The aim is to highlight the existing design elements and perhaps add a layer of intrigue to the piece, really driving the message home to the target audience. Simple, right?

For a minimalistic project, it goes without saying that you have to have some solid negative space and that you need to use it wisely. If it doesn’t fit in with the tone of the design, then it can look a bit lazy, but the great thing about minimalism is that you’ll have way more time to work through any kinks. In short, this is the equivalent of a silver platter pass from Scottie Pippen.


5. A simple colour scheme

Some people seem to believe that minimalism restricts the colours that you can choose for your design - but that isn’t the case at all. You don’t need to dull things down just because of the style you use because, by default, that’s limiting the creative freedom we discussed earlier. Instead, it simply means that you don’t need to use as many colours to get your point across.

They can be as bright and beautiful as they want to be - but you just don’t need to use five, six or seven to make a splash. You should still stay consistent with your brand’s colour scheme and work within those boundaries, but you just don’t need to spend every waking moment worrying about how extensive you feel you have to be.

Wrapping up…

One piece of writing alone isn’t going to be enough to convince you that minimalism is 100% the way to go. At the same time, that isn’t what we’re trying to do - we’re just trying to shed some light on this movement and why it has become so popular. Still, even with all we’ve discussed today, there’s a decent chance you’re still asking a few questions - and this is where we can help.

Here at Hatchly, we have an unlimited graphic design service that we’re incredibly proud of. Our aim now, and always, is to provide assistance with any and all design requests you have. We have a dedicated team of professionals on hand to meet your every need, and we won’t stop until you’re satisfied.

This is an industry that can be pretty hard to work your way through, but we’re here to remove the red tape and get down to business. If you want to learn more, feel free to check out our website to get an even better idea of how we operate. If you have questions at all, get in touch!

William Griffiths
Founder & Creative Director

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