Minimalism in Graphic Design

By Matic Broz, editor-in-chief of Photutorial covering stock media, Adobe, and design. He founded Photutorial while finishing his PhD in computational biosciences.

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What is minimalism in graphic design?

Minimalism in graphic design is a style that uses simple design elements and minimal colors to create a graphics that are easy to understand and visually appealing. This style is often used for web design but can also be used for various other applications, including logos, infographics, and even business cards.

Minimalism had the greatest impact on the art and design world. The internet, user interfaces, video games, and movies have all been influenced by it. So why isn’t it more popular?

Since minimalism is more of a principle than an esthetic style, the answer is simple. By limiting themselves to the most important elements, such as basic shapes and limited color schemes, minimalist designers create simple and memorable works.

5 benefits of minimal design

1. Helps to create a clear and concise message.

Clean and concise messages are essential in graphic design, especially with limited space. Minimalism helps to simplify a message and make it more easily understood.

Example of a clear message in a minimalist design

2. It makes a design more visually appealing.

Minimalist designs are often more visually appealing than busy and cluttered designs. This is because they are more balanced and symmetrical and use negative space in the best possible way.

3. Reduces distractions and clutter.

Too much clutter in a design distracts and makes it difficult to focus on the key message. Minimalism can help to reduce distractions and make a design more focused.

4. Increases focus and attention.

Because minimalism reduces distractions and clutter, it helps to increase focus and attention. This is especially important in designs where the message must be clear and concise.

5. Can create a more modern look and feel.

Minimalist designs often have a more modern look and feel than busy and cluttered designs. This is because they are more simplistic and clean. You can also do this with the use of stock photos.

6. Establish a visual hierarchy

There are a few ways to establish a hierarchy in graphic design. The most important elements should be the largest, the least important elements should be the smallest, and use color to make things pop.

For example, use bright colors for the most important elements and more subdued colors for the less important elements. Contrast also makes key elements stand out, so use light colors on dark backgrounds or vice versa. Finally, use position to draw attention by placing the key elements in the center or at the top of the design.

5 benefits of minimalism in graphic design

1. Makes complex information more digestible.

Making complex information more digestible is one of the most important benefits of minimalism in graphic design. When presented with a lot of information, our brains tend to shut down and tune out. By reducing the amount of information on a page, designers make it more accessible and understandable.

2. Creates a sense of order and calm.

Creating a sense of order and calm is another benefit of minimalism in graphic design. A clean and uncluttered design can be a breath of fresh air in a world that is bombarding us with information and distractions.

3. Focuses the viewer’s attention on the essentials.

One benefit of minimalism in graphic design is that it simplifies and clarifies the message by focusing the viewer’s attention on the essential. In a world where we are bombarded with messages, it is crucial to communicate clearly and concisely.

4. Lends itself to elegant design solutions.

Another benefit of minimalism in graphic design projects is that it leads to elegant design solutions. By stripping away the unnecessary, designers can create simple yet beautiful designs.

5. Works well with traditional and modern aesthetics.

Minimalism is a versatile tool that is used in a variety of graphic design styles. While it is often associated with modern design, you can also use it in more traditional techniques. Using minimalism as a starting point, designers can create unique and stylish designs.

How to Achieve a Minimalist Style in Graphic Design?

The purpose of a minimalist design is to create clean, uncluttered designs that focus on the essentials. This means using a limited color palette, simple shapes, few typefaces, minimal text, and making use of white space. The goal is to create designs that are free of distractions and easy to understand.

In its simplest form, minimalist design is about stripping a design down to its core essentials. This can be done with both function and aesthetics in mind.

The purpose of minimalist design is to create a clean and uncluttered look that is still appealing to the human eye. This type of design is often used in modern and contemporary settings.

1. Fewer colors

When it comes to colors, less is more in minimalism. A limited color palette will help create a consistent look for your minimalist design. Limit yourself to a maximum of two or three colors and ensure they complement each other well.

One way to create a unified look with your limited color scheme is to use similar hues or values for each color. This creates a cohesive and appealing design. Another way to use colors in a minimalist design is to use a single color throughout the design with different hues and shades. This creates an eye-catching and unique look.

2. Simple shapes

When using simple shapes in your designs, try to use a variety of shapes and sizes to create interest and visual appeal. Use different stroke widths to create depth and dimension, and experiment with different colors to create contrast. Remember that less is more in minimalism, so don’t be afraid to use negative space to your advantage.

3. Minimalistic and few typefaces

In addition to using a limited color palette, another way to create a minimalist design is to use fewer typefaces. Stick to one or two typefaces throughout your design and use them sparingly. Use simple fonts that are easy to read and avoid using excessive amounts of text. When in doubt, less is more.

Which fonts are the best for minimalism?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as many great typefaces are used for minimalistic graphic design. However, some popular choices include Helvetica, Arial, and Futura.

4. Minimal text

Some essential tips for using text in a minimalistic graphic design include choosing a simple typeface, using short phrases or single words, and ensuring the text is easy to read. Avoid using multiple typefaces or adding decorative elements to your text—keep it clean and straightforward. Additionally, you use white space to your advantage by ensuring your text is well-spaced and not overcrowded.

5. Use white space to your advantage

White space (= negative space) is an important visual element of graphic design. It’s used to create a sense of balance and visual stability. It also draws attention to certain elements of a design or invokes spaciousness. White space makes a design look clean and uncluttered when used with precision and thought.

6. Keep your designs clean and uncluttered.

To keep designs clean and uncluttered means to keep them free of unnecessary and distracting elements. This allows the viewer to focus on the important aspects of the design and makes the overall design more aesthetically pleasing.

How to use photos in minimalistic graphic designs

  1. Start with a blank canvas or background.
  2. Choose a photo you would like to use as your minimalistic graphic design.
  3. Using photo editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, begin by removing any unnecessary elements from the photo. This may include removing people, objects, or scenery that would distract from the overall design.
  4. Next, focus on simplifying the colors and tones within the photo. This is done by desaturating the colors or converting the image to black and white.
  5. Finally, add any text or other graphic elements that you feel would complement the photo. Be sure to keep the overall design clean.

How to select a photo for a minimalistic graphic design

When searching for the photos to use in a minimalistic design, pay attention to the following characteristics:

  1. Choose a photo that has a simple composition with a few subjects. A simple composition means the basic rule of thirds or symmetry, which will help the viewer focus on the main subject.
  2. Avoid photos with busy backgrounds or distractions. Ideally, your photo would have a one-color background or a gradient. Find a photo with a desaturated background.
  3. Select a photo with clean lines and minimal details. This means no intricate textures or patterns.
  4. Look for a photo that makes use of negative space. Negative space is the area around your subject. It should be simple and uncluttered.
  5. Choose a photo that has a muted color palette. A muted color palette means there are not a lot of bright colors. The colors should be soft and subtle.

The following is an example of a birthday invitation that shows the importance of finding a minimalistic photo and then matching its hue.

Minimalist girls birthday invitation

How to use stock photos in minimalistic graphic designs

Avoid using stock photos in minimalistic graphic designs. The lack of visual clutter is one of the defining characteristics of minimalism, so adding a busy or complex image will detract from the overall effect. If you do need to use a stock photo, try to find a picture with a simple composition.

However, high-quality and minimalistic images take your design to a new level.

Best stock photo sites for minimalistic designs

1. Adobe Stock (paid)

Adobe Stock is the best stock photo site for all graphic designers. In addition, its search filters let you browse photos based on their background and the number of people, which is ideal for minimalism.

You can also download premium stock photos suitable for commercial designs. Besides having a more broad licensing appropriate for large marketing campaigns, they look very professional.

Adobe Stock is also integrated into the Creative Cloud, making it a superb choice for anyone already using Adobe’s apps.

Use Adobe Stock’s free trial to get 10, 25, or 40 stock images for free.

2. iStock (paid)

iStock is our second choice because you get premium stock photos with subscriptions, making them very affordable even for beginner designers.

You also get a plugin to Creative Cloud, giving you similar functionality to Adobe Stock.

Use iStock’s free trial to get 10 stock images free.

3. Shutterstock (paid)

Shutterstock also has great pictures for minimalistic graphic design, but it doesn’t sell premium stock images. Regardless, it’s an excellent choice for any graphic designer.

Use Shutterstock’s free trial to get 10 stock images free.

4. Unsplash (free)

Unsplash has 4 million stock photos licensed under a Creative Commons license. This means you may use them even for commercial projects without giving credit.

While its stock photos are great, sometimes it isn’t easy to find quality images on specific topics.

You can also use Unsplash within other apps, thanks to their API, but you need to develop it yourself.

5. Getty Images (expensive)

Getty Images are the most expensive of the listed stock photo sites, but high-end designers and websites choose them anyway. However, most of the content at Getty Images is marked for editorial use, meaning you may not use it for commercial or edit it.

What is neo-minimalism?

Neo-minimalism is a movement in the late 20th century that sought to revive and redefine specific traditional artistic values in reaction to the perceived excesses of postmodernism.

In general, neo-minimalists sought to return to more traditional artistic values, such as simplicity, order, and clarity. This was in reaction to the perceived excesses of postmodernism, which they felt had led to a loss of focus on the actual artwork itself.

Neo-minimalists also emphasized the artist’s idea as an individual creator rather than a collaborator or part of a larger collective.

What is the difference between minimalism and neo-minimalism?

A focus on simplicity and minimalism characterizes minimalism in art, music, and literature. This means that artists and writers in this movement focus on creating works that are simple and deliberately lacking in ornamentation or detail.

In contrast, neo-minimalism in architecture is characterized by a focus on functionality and simplicity. This means that architects in this movement focus on designing simple and efficient buildings without sacrificing aesthetic appeal.

The History of Minimalism in Graphic Design

  1. The Bauhaus movement in the early 20th century is often cited for having begun minimalism in graphic design.
  2. The Swiss Style of the 1950s and 1960s is another significant influence on minimalism in graphic design.
  3. The rise of digital technology in the late 20th century has also been a significant factor in developing minimalism in graphic design.
  4. In the early 21st century, minimalism in graphic design has become popular, with many designers embracing this style to create clean, modern designs.
  5. Minimalism in graphic design is likely to continue to be a popular style in the years to come.

Minimalism in Graphic Design FAQs

What is a minimalist design?

A minimalist design uses only the essential elements, including basic shapes and limited color palettes, to create something straightforward yet memorable.

Who started minimalism in graphic design?

Andy Warhol is often credited as the father of American minimalism. He was a thriving commercial graphic designer during the 1950s, winning awards such as the Art Directors Club and the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

What is a flat design?

Flat design is a minimalistic design approach that emphasizes usability. It is characterized by using simple, flat, 2D elements, icons, and limited use of gradients, shadows, and other 3D design elements.

Why did distinguished brands embrace minimalist design?

For various reasons, some well-known brands have opted for a minimalist design. If you choose a minimalist design, you can appeal to many customers. In addition, using minimalist principles can make a brand’s message more memorable. Minimalist design principles also give a brand a sense of sophistication and luxury.


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