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RIP | Do These Illustration Trends Deserve to Die?

One wonderful trend we’re noticing in graphic design and illustration in South Africa is an acceptance and celebration of our own unique, local experiences and using these as inspiration for substantial concepts or for creating innovative styles in the work being produced now. Of course, however, there will always be those shiny, tempting design trends that initially just look so cool, and eventually become lazy cues for a concept, culture or theme. In the internet-driven world we live in it can be difficult to pinpoint the origins of a trend and they gain traction exponentially faster than before we were able to share things with a massive audience online. What this means, at times, is that it feels like we’re seeing the same thing everywhere.   

Though many of the views surrounding trends are negative, and even if many of these are warranted, trends are not all bad. It’s more of a matter of application, where the success of any given piece is determined by a myriad of things such as skill, craftsmanship, subject matter, concept and of course, personal taste. So, for Graphic Design Month on 10and5, we decided to have some fun and experimentation exploring trends.  

Many of the distinctly recognisable trends that we’ve been able to discern are specific to the field of illustration, things like: faux “semi-generative” portraits or low-poly art, animals dressed in human clothes, skulls skulls skulls, the ‘sideways drip’ effect, elongated McBess-inspired limbs and all things nautical. We couldn’t pass by the opportunity to do something a little humorous and light-hearted with all of this, so we assigned one trend each to 6 illustrators, asking them to mix things up by interpreting them in their own style or re-interpreting them entirely. These are the results:    

Jade Klara

Jade Klara - pizzaface  

First developed by Jonathan Puckey in 2008, The Delaunay Raster is a process invented using the Delaunay Triangulation algorithm, Scriptographer, and colour averaging developed by Jurg Lehni to abstract images. Basically it turns pixels into vector triangles of various sizes, angles and tones and is most often used to create geometric portraits. Since, the stained-glass look of the final results has become a full-blown trend and triangly faces are popping up all over the internet. A quote from the original developer himself is the perfect response, “Why not make something new instead? Innovate!” In this spirit, Jade Klara imagines what a pizza-face would look like in this style. Delicious!  

Moe Kekana


Is there a name for these floaty shapes? Are they spilled liquid? Trendy clouds? We’ve gone with ‘horizontal drips’ for lack of a better description, which doesn’t really cut it. They’re tricksy ones, showing up in backgrounds and negative space, perhaps when you need to add some visual interest. They’re never the main subject so you might not even notice them. But they’re there alright. Moe Kekana gives them a purpose in this illustration by deciding that they’re puffs of naughty smoke.  

Justin Poulter

Justin Poulter  

A lumberjack pigeon, a fox in a herringbone suit, a weasel in a prairie dress she picked up at a vintage pop-up in 2007; illustrated animals in human clothes have been representing in a big way for the good half of a decade now. While dead charming to begin with perhaps it’s time to let the woodland creatures ride off on their fixies? Justin Poulter brings an urban edge to the trend by refashioning a pack of dogs.  

Rudi de Wet

Rudi de Wet - skulls  

By now skulls have been illustrated in every style imaginable, and (over) used to add just the right amount of edge. Similar to dressing to a ‘Day of the Dead’ theme for Halloween, they’re the perfect solution for when you want to dabble in the dark without being too scary. Rudi de Wet calls for ‘no more’ and adds some other favourites for good measure – spot the moustache, diamonds, and ‘evil eye’s. There may even be a lightning bolt lurking.  

Karabo Moletsane

Karabo Poppy Moletsane  

No matter how unsturdy your sea legs, a nautical theme can be yours! Whether for a band poster, a beer label or group exhibition. Why not kill two gulls with one rock and use your anchor tattoo as your new company logo? Karabo Moletsane takes on the trend to see if it’s possible to steer it in a new direction.  

Jaco Haasbroek

Jaco Hasbroek  

Long twisted limbs loop-the-looping across the page, sometimes arms, sometimes legs, sometimes heavily tattooed, often playing the guitar. You know the ones. At times known to go right through a hollow torso, these body parts defy logic and anatomy and on occasion snap in half to expose their bones. Jaco Haasbroek adds his signature sense of humour to the trend.  


This way for everything we’ve got on Graphic Design Month.  


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