This content originally appeared on Envato Tuts+ Tutorials and was authored by Laura Keung
The 90s trends in graphic design were full of fashion statements, bold colors, and many music genres. Let's take a look at some famous 90s art styles that made this decade so popular.
Many 90s graphics were heavily influenced by pop culture and the underground music scene. Also, many 90s trends happened simultaneously, influencing each other, with overlapping design elements. One thing was for sure: experimenting with design and throwing the 'classic' rules out the door were constant.
We started the decade with the grunge style influence from the skateboarding, graffiti, and punk cultures. New Wave music led to the rave culture. The 90s rave flyers broke the rules of design just as the grunge aesthetic did. TV shows like Rugrats, Saved by the Bell, and Full House influenced the use of sans serif and casual handwritten style fonts. Comic Sans was released in 1995, and it was used anywhere from children's invitations to newsletters. The overuse of the font caused its controversial status.
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90s Aesthetic Characteristics
There were a few key characteristics seen throughout famous 90s art style designs. The decade saw different trends, each with their own attributes that we'll expand on in the "Assets" portion of this article. Generally, however, these were some of the key qualities of the 90s aesthetic:
- Vibrant colors: bright yellow, pink, purple, fluorescent green, cerulean blue, neon lasers. All these colors were applied to patterns for a bold and eye-catching effect in 90s graphics.
- Abstract shapes: bold, abstract, geometric shapes were standard in the 90s aesthetic. Patterns like polka dots were applied everywhere from clothing to famous 90s art.
- Fun Patterns: from 90s rave posters and their trippy background grids to geometric shapes applied to wallpapers and carpets, patterns were just everywhere.
- Gradients: the underground 90s rave posters included vibrant gradients.
- Font choices: Comic Sans style fonts were used mainly for pop style 1990s graphic design. Handwritten fonts were seen on the shows Rugrats and Full House. For more impact, condensed sans serifs were applied to grunge style and 90s rave posters.
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90s Trends: Pop Style Assets
Graphic design in the 90s included many graphic elements influenced by fashion and the colorful 80s. The 90s aesthetic was full of abstract graphic elements used as patterns or supporting bigger elements in the background.
The main typographic style was casual handwritten fonts, most of them with rounded edges like Comic Sans. TV show titles and main headlines used condensed sans serif fonts with drop shadows to separate them from busy backgrounds. Patterns were enhanced by bright colors and applied everywhere from clothing to carpets in 1990s graphic design.
1. The Moonlight 90s Style Retro Font (OTF, TTF, AI, EPS, PNG)
This unique handwritten font has an easy and relaxed flow. The signature style makes it perfect to use in editorial design, logos, and even apparel design. The casual style font comes with stylistic alternates and extra goodies to complete your designs.
2. Thunderstorm 90s Aesthetic Font (OTF, TTF, AI)
This 90s style font was developed from a handmade brush. Inspired by the retro vibe of the late 80s and early 90s aesthetic, it embodies so much of the disco and pop culture of the time. The pack comes with alternates and swashes that finish off any logo nicely. The extras are full of 90s digital art illustrations.
3. Studly 90s Retro Font (OTF, TTF)
Comic Sans was released in 1994, making it one of the most popular fonts in the 90s. Studly maintains the friendly and round shapes of Comic Sans, while upgrading the legibility by keeping it clean. This 90s style font includes layered families so you can create that 3D 90s aesthetic. Looking for retro 90s logos? This is a great example of a font to use for 90s logo design.
4. Back to 90s Flyer (AI, PSD)
Thickly lined drawings and vibrant colors were a big part of the 90s trends. This poster has a modern take on the 90s aesthetic if you're planning a throwback party to celebrate some of the best music of the decade. Everyone needs a fun night out once in a while!
5. Back to 90s Instagram Pack (AI, PSD)
If you're a fan of the recent 90s graphic design comeback, this colorful social media pack is going to have you trending in no time. The download comes with 24 Instagram posts with aesthetic 90s patterns. It includes some of the best 90s style graphic design. They didn't forget about Instagram stories—those are also taken care of and ready to post!
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90s Trends: Grunge Style
We entered the decade bringing a few things from the 80s, like flannel shirts and the start of alternative rock. The grunge aesthetic originated from punk music, graffiti, and skateboarding culture, paving the way for experimental typography and grunge-style posters.
David Carson famously designed Ray Gun magazine, the ultimate grunge-style magazine. The style was widely adopted on posters and album covers. There were lots of handmade posters, handwritten fonts, and grunge textures applied to posters. These elements conveyed underground rock culture.
1. Exit Brush & SVG Font (SVG, OTF, TTF)
The 90s grunge aesthetic took over the decade as the alternative rock culture was rising. This grunge-style 90s font represents so much of what music was at the time. The font also comes in SVG format if you want to change the colors. Bonus points for the grunge patterns that come with the pack to complete your design. Now you have all the 90s style graphic design elements to get started on your project!
2. Supreme Spirit Brush Font (OFT, PSD)
This 90s retro font has a more polished look. It's inspired by brush-style handmade characters. If you're looking to add some grunge aesthetic to your 90s logo design, this font is legible and clean. Aside from the regular font files, the pack comes with SVG, vector, and PSD versions.
3. Black Space SVG Font (SVG)
Most vintage 90s fonts were based on handwritten brush and marker characters. Black Space is a cool SVG font with awesome texture, so you can get that true natural transparent effect on your 90s graphics.
4. 90s Grunge Style Music Flyer (PSD)
Music venues were filled with staple 90s grunge-style music flyers, and the alternative rock scene was booming. If there's one iconic 90s design style, it was grungy underground posters, and this flyer is a perfect example of that. The download comes neatly organized with layers, and it's ready to print.
5. Vector Grunge PatternTextures (PNG, AI)
Heavy grunge pattern textures were dominant in any 90s graphics. These textures were sourced from photos of real surfaces to have an authentic feel. Use these to add distress to your 90s graphics and take them to another level. The pack includes 29 different textures in PNG and AI formats.
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90s Trends: Rave-Style Assets
The 90s rave posters were powerful and evocative when it came to breaking the rules of design. The end of the 80s in Chicago brought acid house, a music genre that quickly expanded around the world. The word rave was used to describe the subculture that revolved around the acid house music genre.
The only way to promote events was their famous 90s art style inspired by surrealism, cyberpunk, and psychedelia elements. Typography was bold and mostly legible as it sat on a bed of experimentation. The backgrounds were sometimes dark, with heavy patterns. Time-saving hacks sometimes led to a complete black and white design printed on colored neon paper.
1. Zuume Font Family (OFT)
Sans serif fonts were some of the most popular fonts in 1990s design. If you're looking for retro 90s logos, this is a good reference. Cleancut and precise, they supported many of the 90s digital art designs. This striking font is condensed and eye-catching due to the multiple weights it includes. The pack includes an alternate Cut family with sliced details that will make your 90s rave posters look dynamic and unique.
2. Origin: Bold Retro Sans Serif (TTF, OTF)
Lots of 90s rave posters had busy backgrounds and needed a good font to keep the content legible. Origin is a 90s aesthetic font, grotesque and condensed, creating a strong association with 90s graphic design. The pack comes with nine weights, so you'll be covered with such a wide variety. This is a cool alternative for 90s logo design.
3. 90s Style Rave Poster (PSD)
90s rave flyers were electronic music's most iconic medium. Artists blended psychedelic styles with cyberpunk, resulting in trippy 90s digital art. This design pack even includes the original photo, which is free for commercial use. It's also easily editable and comes in a variety of sizes, so you can make it as big as you want. Pair your design with an awesome vintage 90s font, and you're ready to party!
4. 90s Rave Flyer (PSD)
90s rave posters showed an interesting style that very accurately translated the sounds of electronic dance music. This 90s rave poster style features colorful and vibrant elements that capture the passion of the music scene. The design is ready to print and is easily editable because of the highly organized layers. Ready to party with 1990s design?
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It's Your Turn!
In the last couple of years, we've seen a resurgence of 90s nostalgia. The decade was full of experimental design choices that made 1990s graphic design grow in ways that hadn't been seen before. What's your favorite 90s design trend? Let us know on the forum!
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Editorial Note: This post has been updated with contributions from Janila Castañeda. Janila is a staff writer with Envato Tuts+.
This content originally appeared on Envato Tuts+ Tutorials and was authored by Laura Keung