It’s no secret that art reflects life. Looking at historically recognised artworks, we can see more or less what was going on in the world at the time the painting was created. Subject matter, composition, and even colour, give us hints of what life in a different time might have been like. Not only that, but we can also get a glimpse into what different cultures were like at a specific period in time.
Today we find there is a similar trend in graphic design and illustration. People love to visually translate their cultures, travels, hometowns, food, traditions, and many other aspects of their lives, through art and design. If you have a sharp eye, you might even be able to tell where these artists are from, by identifying the influences subtly revealed in the way they design. Let’s take a look at 8 different design styles from around the world and how they differ from each other.
Looking at some of the wonderfully talented young South African artists mentioned in this article by Design Indaba, it’s clear that South Africa truly is the rainbow nation. Our diversity has been beautifully highlighted through these artists’ works. When we look at their design styles, there are common themes that tend to pop up repeatedly.
We find that there is a lot of reference to the many different cultures and languages present within SA, and that a lot of people reference these roots literally (hello Protea - SA’s national flower) and figuratively in their art. We also see these artists and designers address many current social issues through their works, trying to reconcile the traditions of old with the modern and new, attempting to make it as accessible to today’s millenials as possible.
If you’ve ever seen pictures of (or been lucky enough to actually go to) Greece, you’d understand exactly why so many creative souls use this paradise as an inspiration for their artworks and designs. We noticed two very distinct styles that seem popular amongst the creators in Greece: one being incredibly modern and bold with colour, portraying a sense of happiness and ease of existence, while the other style takes more inspiration from the classical art roots that stem from Greece.
Whichever style is more prevalent in particular artists’ work, mentioned in this article by Shillington Education, they all still seem to portray a sense of quirkiness, joy, and humour in some way, shape, or form.
With what we all know and love about the Italian culture (aka pizza, breath-taking landscapes, stunning sports cars, and the feeling of familiar comfort), it comes as no surprise that some of these ideas and themes are portrayed in their art and design.
Looking at this article about Italian designers by Shillington Education, we can see just how it all shines through in their design work. Some of these works give you the feeling of a warm, sunny Sunday spent happily at home, using bright, warm colours that to evoke a feeling of nostalgia while giving a subtle nod to Italian traditions.
Japan is known for it’s “kawaii” (cute) character designs, clean lines, and practicality in almost everything they do – just think “Marie Kondo” and you’ll know what we’re on about! In this article by Shillington Education you can see some stunning designs that nod to the Japanese values of simplicity, functionality, and clean beauty.
Their soothing colour palettes allow even more intricate designs to look balanced and calm. This is very different from the bright and bold of a lot of the Western world, yet the Japanese have got minimalistic impact down to an art.
In yet another lovely article by Shillington Education, we discovered some brightly coloured, interestingly shaped, beautiful designs by 12 talented Mexican illustrators.
These designers take inspiration from Mexican folklore, festivals, and the array of colours that Mexican is known for. We see fresh and bold colours meeting with intricate typefaces that create a classic and fun feel in many of these designs. It’s amazing to see how references to pop culture, even soccer icons, is included in many designs. If you think “Mexican Fiesta”, that’s the kind of feeling you get when looking at these illustrations.
Mumbai is an exciting place to be as a designer right now. As the city grows, so too does it’s design requirements and the number of design and branding agencies. Design is still seen as very new here, and it’s fascinating to see how illustrators are taking on the exciting idea of creating something that many people in Mumbai do not yet see the value of.
When reading this article by Eye on Design, we see that designers in Mumbai take inspiration from Bollywood (even if it is considered cliché, it can’t be avoided), but are also being influenced by the evolution of technology. This is moving them into a more contemporary design space everyday.
With Poland’s 44-year history of Soviet occupation, it comes as no surprise that many of their designs have a distinct almost “poster-like” feel that could perhaps be traced back to propaganda influences from that time.
Using many bright colours, designers create bold images that demand attention and invoke a sense of urgency to take action. The stylized images are interesting in that they are not particularly similar to any specific style in the Western or Eastern parts of the world at the moment. Reading through this article by Shillington Education, we can see that Poland has a very unique, “weird and wonderful” style.
The Dutch are famous for good cheeses, wooden shoes, and of course, their beautiful canals. This article by Shillington Education highlights how Dutch designers have integrated these elements into their designs with a certain level of charm and minimalistic innovation.
We love how these designs focus on interesting typography to compliment the vibrant colours and geometric shapes present in many of these designs.
Now that we’ve taken a virtual walk around parts of the globe, we can truly see how where we come from can really influence what we put out into the world. Of course, not every single designer from a specific country will necessarily design the same way, or even have the same influences, but it’s special to see artists and designers truly embrace their cultural roots and portray them in a meaningful and exciting way.
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