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Y2K makes a comeback in Graphic Design

Graphic Design is a field that covers a variety of visually focused disciplines which means that the diversity in trends is just as broad. We have looked at examples of other trends in our previous articles to help you stay on top of what styles are currently popular with designers and artists. 

Today, we will look at another trend that has recently gained popularity. We are looking at another example of the throwback style of design; this is the “Y2K” style. 

As the name “Y2K” suggests, this style takes inspiration from when the 1990s ended and the 2000s began, especially the changing of the millennium. That was a time of great uncertainty, especially in tech. Many people feared there would be some crash in the technology of the time. People expected this crash due to the changeover from the year 1999 to the year 2000, hence the name “Y2K”.

Similar to other themes of nostalgia, “Y2K” also reflects a time when most people in their 30s were growing up. And the theme plays into a lot of the technology and pop culture of the time. 

That was when Boy bands and girl bands were all the rage, Windows 95 was still a current operating system, and Internet explorer was still in widespread use. The “Y2K” styled designs share a common theme of what technology looked like and what, for the time, seemed cutting-edge but seemed quaint by comparison to what we have today. 

The result of this is an overly bright and bold style of design that overlaps loud colours with gaudy-looking aesthetics that, for many, evoke a strangely comfortable nostalgic feeling. Another focus of the “Y2K” design style is on using clunky-looking computers and dated technology.

At the time, the digital culture we see today was slowly taking shape, with websites such as MySpace becoming popular as journals and discussion spaces and online multiplayer gaming starting to gain traction. These seemingly different aspects of the time share one thing in common, they have a particular feeling that today may seem kitschy and tacky, yet has a certain nostalgic appeal.

The “Y2K” trend benefits from inspiring the same comforting feeling that other nostalgia-based trends such as the “90s” do. Artists and designers can create pieces that feature elements of a time in the audience’s youth that evoke a certain degree of familiarity with which they connect. 

Elements of the time that artists and designers have incorporated include the use of shiny chrome, bright, flashy colours that sometimes clash and various shades of blue. The look uses Windows 95 style graphics and 3D text elements that resemble the Microsoft Word Art that at the time seemed quite futuristic. 

3D effects play a sizeable role in the theme, having seen quite a bit of use, especially on the many MySpace pages of the time. Combined with a blocky font for text and the use of shadows, the look is relatively easy to distinguish.

As with any nostalgic theme, the benefits come from familiarity with the design elements that the audience already holds. This feeling of a throwback to a time that may be looked fondly upon is what helps make the trend able to catch the audience’s attention.

And, if you are looking to incorporate some of the design elements of the “Y2K” style into your communications, let us know. Our design team can help you create “Y2K”-inspired designs that work for your needs. If you want to learn more about the different trends in styles and design elements currently finding popularity, check out some of our other articles on the subject.




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