What comes to mind when someone mentions psychedelic design? Swirls of color. Puffed-up lettering. The hippie counterculture origins. For modern Netizens the first thing that comes to mind when they hear psychedelic design is its distinct quality of otherworldliness. But how exactly did this style of design come to be?
Perhaps the most telling facet of psychedelic design is the etymology of the term “psychedelic.” The word is a concoction of two Greek terms. The first term means ‘psyche’ or ‘soul,’ the other means ‘to manifest.’ Basically, psychedelic, at least etymologically speaking, means to manifest one’s soul or mind. Indeed, that’s what psychedelic art endeavors to accomplish.
Psychedelic design is only an offspring of a greater psychedelic era of counterculture in the 60’s and 70‘s. Initially, the word was used to describe the experience of indulging in hallucinogenic substances widely used along with the rock-and-roll and hippie aspects of those decades past. The term found a more wholesome use in art in which it soon became an emerging and lasting trend.
Psychedelic Art and Design
There’s much to say between the era of psychedelic drugs to the era or psychedelic digital art, but let’s skip the melodrama and complicated semantic drift and get right down to the factors that make a design psychedelic.
Psychedelic art and design is mainly characterized by vibrant and dizzying colors, and exuberant, enthusiastically distorted typefaces. The combination of grotesque imagery, colors, and gnarled font aims to give an image a life of its own. It aims to capture the human psyche in all its oddities and unfathomable patterns. In the decades of art that followed its advent, psychedelic designs were common, almost threadbare. But that vogue is past – today, can psychedelic design hold water?
Psychedelic Design in Modern Times
Obviously, posters and flyers for events with motifs of hippie rock and 60’s and 70’s nostalgia would do well with psychedelic designs. But aside from that, on what other print and Web design endeavors can psychedelic design apply to?
As psychedelic design is an attempt to illustrate the landscapes of the mind, businesses and products that have to do with imagination and the psyche can use psychedelic elements to communicate with their audiences. Psychedelic brochures, pamphlets, and even websites that have something to do with the chaotic human mind are ideal. However, psychedelic designs can overwhelm, and that is in fact often the goal (the human mind is an incomprehensible mesh of reality and imagination, after all). So when trying to communicate something other than artistic exuberance, use psychedelic art and elements in moderation.
Every time a design needs to break out from the norm and reach out to impress upon its audience an impact memorable for its sheer imagination and overwhelming design, you’ll find that psychedelic art and design does the job perfectly. Eye-catching and thought-provoking, psychedelic design is the human mind committed to ink on paper.