Brutalism In This 2024 Madness

  • by Nikolas Noel
  • April 24, 2024
  • 5 minutes read


We talked about the rather liberal grunge design aesthetic in the last article. However, if you still don’t feel liberated enough, this brutalism design approach will result in something more vicious and free. For you a gamer, maybe the name brutalism itself reminds you of the Mortal Kombat finisher instead of an art movement. Therefore, this Liu Kang shows up to relieve your memory of the game series.

Seems messed up right? But that’s how brutalism graphic style supposed to come out. So, what is brutalism in graphic design, where it’s from and what characteristics it has. In this article we’ll discuss things about brutalism from its’ origin and its key characteristics.

Brief History of Brutalism Style in Graphic Design

Brutalism design is a practical aesthetic trend that avoids the use of ornamentation but tends to prefer to highlight and appreciate the unfinished materials used to create the design. Its peak was largely reached in the architectural era of the 1950s-1970s, but contemporary digital design has made a comeback in recent years.

The term brutalism design was originally born from an architectural design by our talented architects: war. At the end of the 40s when the World War II subsided, many buildings in large cities were damaged and scattered. Meanwhile, there was a housing crisis that required a place for many people to live. So, buildings with concrete facades and extruded parts began to appear as a solution to this housing problem. From this form of building, the term brutalism, which comes from France “beton brut” (raw concrete), emerged in the world of architecture.

And then how it became a graphic design style?

Based on the brutalism design approach which refers to buildings designed using only basic materials, the development of brutalism in graphic design forms a similar pattern. Where brutalism leads to something truly raw, but different from minimalism. While brutalism might be paradoxical in that it is both visually lavish and extremely austere, minimalism nevertheless pays attention to the primary design aspects.

In graphic design, brutalism encompasses a stripped-down aesthetic, devoid of decoration or excessive elements. Avoid the use of visual effects to maintain rough textures, monochromatic color palettes, and asymmetrical layouts. Brutalism leads to the deliberate deviation of traditional design rules. brutalism became a form of rebellion against the smoothness and uniformity often associated with contemporary design trends. This became increasingly popular when similar types of designs emerged in the 50s with punk and rave designs.

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Key Characteristics of a Brutalism Design

Talking about raw brutalism, it is difficult to imagine how brutalism has other characteristics besides its rawness? However, instead of having a single characteristic, brutalism design still has several important elements to pay attention to, both in composition, typography, coloring and other graphic elements in order to give a distinctive, prominent character to designs that use the concept of brutalism. So here is an introduction for you to get deeper into brutalism world that might light you up.

Simplicity with Impact

Brutalism graphic design used minimalism style, emphasizing simplicity over complexity, but the simplicity given to brutalism requires that the visual key of the design created remains prominent. Simple shapes, sharp contrasts and sparse typography define the outcome of brutalism design. The focus of this design lies in conveying the message precisely and directly, avoiding excessive decoration.

Rawness and Authenticity

As what’s been discussed earlier, originality and rawness are valued in brutalism, graphic design, as much as their architectural counterparts. Designers often leave things incomplete so flaws can become part of the look. This rustic aspect gives the design a sincere and authentic feel, which contrasts with the glossy, matching look of most mainstream designs.

Experimental Typography

In Brutalism graphic design, typography is a crucial element. Brutalism design invites designers to break the rules of conventional typography. Fonts can be made to appear very large, crooked, or jagged, breaking with convention and encouraging readers to interact deeply with the text. Because of their unusual shapes, fonts can become visual magnets in their own right and demand attention.

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Unconventional Layouts

Brutalism always leads to a challenging aesthetic, brutalist graphic design often uses messy and non-traditional layouts as you already know that brutalism opposes conventional grid systems. The arrangement of elements that are arranged randomly, overlapping, or disproportionate, adds to the impression of dynamics and visual tension. This rupture in asymmetrical composition forces viewers to reevaluate their assumptions about harmony and order.

Be a Brutal(ist)!

How do you feel after reading this article? Do you encourage to be a brutal(ist)? In the end, it all depends on who you ask, is brutalism really as scary as Mortal Kombat’s highly explicit gore scenes or it’s just hard to ignore the application of design aesthetic that has generated so much attention and controversy over the years? Already decades after brutalism emerged from the ruins of battle, brutalism provided a solution for shelter in its time and developed into a wonderful inspiration for digital art. So why don’t give it a try, because sometimes experimenting with a strong style on your design assignments is worth the risk, maybe brutalism is an answer for the project you are working on.


El is a chemistry teacher and graphic designer, two combinations that some people question. Still, graphic design is a skill he enjoys outside of his career as a chemistry teacher. Through the world of graphics, El finds love and relieves boredom outside of the chemical experiments that many of his students are confused about at school. He wants to continue providing the best work amidst other busyness.

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