There’s a soft spot in my heart for nostalgic design. Like many creatives, I’ve grown up with the internet, and it’s been fun to witness its growth and influence on traditional design and art mediums.
10 Years of Design & Illustration on Envato Tuts+
And since we’re celebrating ten years of awesome tutorials on ThemeKeeper Tuts+, let’s walk down memory lane and look back on the last decade in design.
Where were you ten years ago?
The Beginning of More Connection
I remember how “social media” sounded like a foreign word back then. But soon, Facebook and Twitter showed us how much more connected we could be.
As we slowly grew out of the era of overloaded Myspace pages, social media sites reminded us that less is more. Apple’s iPhone inspired designers worldwide with its clean aesthetics and advancements in mobile design.
Mad Men fans may also remember the premiere of this new series. A dramatic portrayal of NYC’s advertisement firms in the 1960s, the TV show reinvigorated all our love for vintage design!
A familiar design website also emerged! ThemeKeeper Tuts+ launched in 2007 with educational tutorials on freelancing and Photoshop. With a few simple steps, you could learn how to create cool metallic styles from the site’s first instructors.
Because of the popularity of Flash at this time, design often featured bright colors and a focus on gradients. Here are a few of our very first tutorials!
EffectsCreating a Mac-Type Background in PhotoshopCollis Ta’eed
Text EffectsTransparent Glass Lettering in PhotoshopCollis Ta’eed
Want to learn more about the very beginning? Check out our origin story.
The year of 2008 also brought incredible political art. We can’t forget how the iconic Barack Obama poster by Shepard Fairey nearly broke the internet. Recreate the amazing style using this Adobe Illustrator tutorial:
How Technology Changed Design
Touchscreens made us one step closer to living like the Jetsons. Everyone wanted an iPhone to be connected to the future.
Smartphones made us care a lot more about the way we look, too. We studied the art of the perfect selfie and used advanced techniques to post-process like a pro.
Apple continued to influence design trends as well. Fans recreated Steve Jobs’s skeuomorphic aesthetics for icons and more. This meant that icon design mirrored the actual appearance of familiar, everyday items.
Many designers were undecided about the style but couldn’t avoid its impact. It stayed a popular trend for quite a while before modern flat graphics took its spot.
Remember your first iPhone? Try out this awesome vector illustration from Nikola Adzic.
Oh, and blogs finally became mainstream! What once seemed like a novelty online diary now emerged as a respectable source of income and online influence.
Kick start your blog with an elegant design. Follow along with instructor Tomas Laurinavicius.
The Rise of Flat Graphics
Did we mention that less is more?
To compensate for the growing number of different devices, designers began focusing on responsive design. They began to question the future of web design as it applies to our individual user experiences.
How can we―and our designs―adapt? –Ethan Marcotte
Web designers responded with incredible modern websites that resized to your device. This year also delivered the boom of the Parallax! Now, you could endlessly scroll your favorite new blogs or trendy Tumblr profiles.
Parallax scrolling became a major inspiration for many artists. Creatives could achieve exceptional modern layouts that created a fluid experience for the viewer.
Interested in web design? Start here. Explore our beginner series for helpful videos.
If you’re somehow new to Parallax, try this tutorial instead. Learn how to create a beautiful scrolling background for your website:
The Return to Minimalism
It wasn’t only that we wanted to see less clutter online; we also wanted less clutter in life.
The major trends of this time saw a return to simplistic aesthetics across several platforms. From fashion to graphic design, simplicity represented class and style.
Smartphones were only getting better, so responsive design continued to build in momentum. Many designers sought out responsive web templates for affordable, DIY solutions.
Popular trends around lifestyle choices also affected how we designed at this time. Living healthier meant living simpler, with eco-friendly alternatives.
As with many things, trends have a way of lingering. During this time, flat graphics were embraced by everyone―from large brands to freelance designers.
Want to learn how to create a cool flat icon set? Check out this tutorial:
Photos, Videos, and 3D!
I personally love how YouTube has changed things. Like many self-taught artists, I’ve spent hundreds of hours watching speed painting videos and more. Learning online is so essential these days for aspiring designers.
At this time, social media continued to change design too! The pursuit of followers and likes became a real part of online marketing tactics and forced a push towards picture perfect visuals.
Adobe’s Creative Cloud also gave us access to more options. Now, artists could dabble in 3D art, especially if they hadn’t already with other software.
Just like many of Photoshop’s features, learning 3D takes time. But you can conquer these tools with exciting tutorials in the meantime, like this fun text effect.
Many important events also had an impact on the design world.
The U.S. finally legalized same-sex marriage, and the creative community celebrated with colorful, magical designs. Our instructors showed support too! Just explore the site to see many inspiring tutorials.
Learn how to create amazing cartoon icons for an important cause. Check out this tutorial:
3D Becomes the New Canvas
Every month we cover amazing artists in our International Artists Features. Each time, I’m captivated by the world’s 3D artists.
And in 2016, the industry saw a boom in mind-blowing 3D illustrations, video games, and motion graphics.
During this time, 3D software allowed artists to created amazing, vivid worlds. They designed them with real-life lighting schemes which left their audience with awe-inspiring experiences.
Designers became familiar with Photoshop’s 3D capabilities, too. Check out this awesome marble and rose text effect tutorial to master 3D!
Creatives will enjoy the magic of 3D software. We’re able to create more realistic environments suitable for a variety of projects.
This Low Poly Floating Island from Jonathan Lam features stunning light and colors. It shows us that even a minimalist design is enhanced by the look of 3D.
What’s to Come…
What do you predict for the future?
So far, the popular design trends of 2017 include tropical leaves and a return to nostalgic 90s graphics. We’re learning to embrace our inner geeks again while Netflixing 90s sitcoms.
Modern design is breaking the mold of what it means to be an artist. And a more connected world means that we’re changing who we include in design as well.
Help us create a more inclusive future with design that embraces everyone. Use your creativity to celebrate diversity and spread love.
The last ten years have taught us a lot about the importance of creativity. And we hope to continue to provide you with many inspiring articles and tutorials.
Have a great experience from the last ten years? Share your stories with us!