It’s been a year of great recovery for the creative industries, but still not quite one in which everything was as opened up as we hoped. With so many creative professionals left at home with their own imagination, you can bet that the most inspiring graphic designs of 2021 are visionary to say the least.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for the year to come, look no further; the designs and authors detailed below will most certainly pique your interest.
The best graphic designs of this year
Whether it’s with some clever packaging or some unique display of visual artistry, you’ll be surprised by the unbridled creativity of some of the designers below. With a diverse blend of work coming from The Annual 2021 and beyond, brace yourself for the best, most inspiring and visionary graphic designs (and designers) of this year!
China’s People’s Daily New Media - PepsiCo Design & Innovation
There's a new generation of heroes born during the Covid-19 pandemic – the global collective of medical staff, workers, volunteers and delivery people who have been working tirelessly on the frontline of this pandemic crisis every day. PepsiCo felt like it was time to give back to these heroes – and so the brand joined hands with China's People's Daily New Media to create a whole range of cans in newspaper-style typesetting, alongside the dominant colours of the Pepsi brand. The cans featured real-life quotes from People's Daily reporting, celebrating the power of the individuals who have played their part in the midst of this global crisis. A wonderful, beautiful project and a stunning example of graphic – which won big at The Annual 2021 this year, with a Gold in Graphic and two Silvers, in Packaging and Illustration respectively. What better way to open this list?
Creating Customer Experience Book - Jakub Horna (and others)
Last year, Jakub Horna made it into the list of our best graphic designers of 2020, becoming part of a roundup of creative excellence from the Creativepool community. This year, his work makes this list once again, with a much exciting Customer Experience book created in tandem with a group of other professionals. With an impressive balance between graphic, illustrations and priceless insights, the book collects experiences of many organisations, including the customers of Hycom, to provide a guide to practical solutions that take CX above and beyond expectations. It is only available in Polish – but you don't need to know the language to understand the immense creative value behind this book.
Happy Factory - Another Colour
Choosing the perfect Christmas gift has always been a hassle. With Happy Factory, Silver winner in The Annual 2021's Graphic category this year, the problem doesn't really exist anymore – and the brand needed an identity which could support that claim. Happy Factory gifts are all about personalisation, and the entire, beautiful and colourful identity from Another Colour goes at great length to demonstrate it.
Institute of Social Movements - Roberto Warner
With an impressive body of work playing on minimal visuals and efficient design, Roberto Warner worked closely with the Institute of Social Movements to craft a whole new identity, to embrace every single touchpoint of the brand and to develop a unique visual language based on space, type, dynamic shapes and history. With close ties to activism and the history of social movements, the identity is an excellent piece of graphic design and one that dares to disrupt the cleanliness of design to introduce the impredictability of social movements – in all its evergreen beauty.
Cosmos - Petros Afshar
What's there to say about this geometric logo by Petros Afshar? An incredibly talented designer working with a beautiful series of shapes, elegant in composition, showing a vertical infinite symbol (or perhaps an 8?) as the entire Solar System floats and orbits within its double shapes. No matter how long you stare at this piece, you will always find some new detail to decypher, some new idea, some new seed of inspiration for your next work. Brilliant, minimal, geometrical, unique.
Literally anything from Chuck Anderson
I spent a good hour on Chuck Anderson's Instagram looking for something to feature here, but every single piece I looked at left me just as fascinated as the previous one. It seems Chuck is simply unable to create something uninspiring, dull or exquisitely visionary. This piece above, Recurring Dreams, is a mesmerising mass of shapes pulsating towards the viewer and captivating their attention in their beautiful artistry. If graphic design is, indeed, about creating some weird sh*t, this is it. And it works.
The Myth of the Ancient Greek: Gay Utopia - Tyler McFaul
There's no revolution or change in the future of design without a little sprinkle of disruption. This impressive book design by Tyler McFaul goes above and beyond in that sense, embracing absolutely bonkers design in some pages, alongside careful composition and an eye for presentation in others. It well embodies the chaotic spirit of the much discussed 'gay utopia' in Ancient Greek, with multiple voices coming together and blending across history to celebrate freedom, identity and self-awareness. A visionary piece of art, possibly very hard to read even, but certainly inspiring and fascinating across every single page.
The Summer Feeling - David Milan
Shapes and vectors coming together to create a new experience with patterns and ideas, blending together in something almost unfathomable. David Milan is an expert at all this, but never had I imagined I would see an ice cream cone torned into a Saturn-like planet with little moons orbiting around it. Sure, it may be closer to illustration than it is to graphic design – but if you take some time to look around David's profile, you'll find plenty to satiate your hunger for beautiful type and visionary conceptual art.
Mayfair London - SomeOne
The world is changing – and the realm of luxury with it. Grosvenor Estates needed a new identity to re-affirm Mayfair's status as one of the most famous districts in London, and SomeOne worked closely with their clients to cement a refreshed reputation for the next century, with a strategic brand work paying homage to the heritage and to the contemporary at the same time. The Forever Fashionable identity was awarded a Bronze in The Annual 2021, and for good reason. Flexible, elegant, bold and colour-led, Mayfair is truly reborn – and it can only rise even higher from here.
#AllMenCan - Christian Tunstall
All men can. Working as a Senior Designer for Weber Shandwick, Christian Tunstall created an impressive work of design for White Ribbon UK, with the aim to raise awareness of violence against women. The main message of the campaign was that all men can do something to teach respect to future generations, and the silence can simply be broken with some careful and considerate words. Words erasing the blackness and darkness of nothing, showing that men can make a difference too – and it's not up to women to keep themselves safe.
Liquid History - Tobias Hall
The line between graphic design and illustration is blurring more with each passing year. This illustration for Liquid History, crafted by Tobias Hall, is a perfect example of the priceless potential of graphic design. Drawing inspiration from classic pub signs, the Liquid History cover is a tribute to London's greatest pubs and features impressive typography, patterns, decorations and composition that well complements the premise of the book. Stunning work.
Eadem - Lotta Nieminen
From branding and design studio Lotta Nieminen comes a stunning piece of design for Eadem, a skincare brand for the modern woman of colour. The brand caters for a wide spectrum of people across cultures, ethnicities and skin colours, and the agency was able to craft a design with a bold colour palette, energetic, pairing bright colours with muted shades – and especially coming to life in printed assets. An elegant piece of branding, carefully developed from start to finish.
Chivas PH - June Digan
What's there to say about this piece? Some of the best graphic design out there you can't really help but admire for three minutes straight, and still find something fascinating about them each second. The level of detail in this piece by June Digann for Chivas PH is part of an effort started in March 2021, consisting of three illustrations for the brand's limited edition packs. The artwork represents a visualisation of the warm feeling of whisky gliding down your throat, a celebration of flavours and texture in visual form. As far as this first attempt of June collaborating with a brand goes, there's no reason why she shouldn't do it again next year. Just brilliant.
theV01D_055-056-058_001 - Joshua Davis
The realm of algorithmic image marking and animation is a fascinating one to say the least. As an artist and technologist, Joshua Davis has been exploring the scene for some time – andthe results are absolutely amazing for every single piece of work he does. Fractals and shapes come together in computer-generated imagery which is simply a joy for the senses, a stunning journey in the mind of the author as he disrupts and plays with the delicate balance between form and composition. Design at its finest.