Are you looking for some awesome pieces of art to inspire your own creations? If so, then you might want to explore these different psychedelic design examples. We can date this style of artwork back to the second half of the 60’s; however, countless artists have embraced the retro imagery, bright colors and trippy concepts for several decades.
The history behind the psychedelic design is fascinating and it has continued to evolve with new exciting elements that have grown from the original influences.
In this article, we’ll explore the beginnings of psychedelic design as well as what it became with some fascinating examples from artists, illustrators, and various graphic designers.
What Is Psychedelic Design?
When someone uses the term “psychedelic art,” they’re often referring to works that artists have created while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. On the other hand, we can use “psychedelic art” to refer to the art present in the 1960’s that was a fundamental element of the counterculture movement.
There are various elements of psychedelic design that make it stand out from other pieces of art, including bright colors, surreal imagery, kaleidoscopic patters, art nouveau influences, and collage.
Psychedelic artists tend to utilize a strong color palette with bright colors in order to grab a viewer’s attention. This was very common because psychedelic artists made these designs for album covers as well as concert and event posters, which needed to be attention-grabbing. Colors would often contrast to ensure that key elements stood out more.
Surreal subject matter was an important element of psychedelic design and a major component of the style. The art present in this genre had a startling impact on comic book artists. As a result of such influence, comic books artists eventually created an entire sub-genre of comic book art known as “underground comix.” Surreal imagery was a key element of this.
Artists used geometric patterns in connection with a range of bright colors and often ornate lettering. As well as these patterns, the artwork would also often use spirals or concentric circles. Artists would also incorporate many symbols and motifs and repeat them across the work.
Art nouveau Influences
Artists used art nouveau as a means to challenge Victorian orthodoxies. During the hippie revolution, art nouveau had a deep influence on artists, who viewed these designs as the pathway to a brand new psychedelic vision. Artists created flowers, peacocks, and curves – all popular elements of art nouveau – with vibrating colors.
This is another important element that viewers will fin in psychedelic stylized pieces. There are many works of psychedelic art that viewers can associate with the genre of collage.
Brief Background of Psychedelic Design
Pop art and Op art were both popular during the 60’s. Both would make a significant impression on artists that were ready to explore psychedelic design.
Many people deem San Francisco the epicenter of the hippie movement and birthplace of psychedelia. Many of the most notable artists connected to this type of design worked from here including Bonnie MacLean, Wes Wilso, and Victor Moscoso.
Image Source: IHG
However, it also quickly spread to the east coast, and artists here even developed their own aesthetic. The work of east coast artists has been given a presence in pop culture as late as the mid 2000’s.
It was through a commission that Milton Glaser produced original art for the popular 60’s set TV show Mad Men.
13 Mind-bending Psychedelic Design Examples
Despite being popular in the 1960’s, psychedelic design still has a firm grasp on the artist world today. There are numerous designers and famous illustrators who create inspired pieces of psychedelic art including freelance illustrators, top graphic designs, and famous artists.
Here are some of the most fascinating examples from artists that could inspire you to create your own unique pieces.
Ryan Sprague works under Pavlov Visuals and has created many psychedelic pieces including the intriguing “Where is my mind.”
Image Source: Dribbble
It depicts a person walking inside and opening their own head through an opening where their face should be. The individual is walking up steps, journeying deeper into themselves. It is a clear interpretation of looking inside oneself.
The imagery present here uses contrasting pastel shades while missing the patterns and kaleidoscopic design present across so many other pieces.
Pedro Correa, a freelance artist created this piece that is both startling, captivating, and even a little disturbing.
Image Source: Dribbble
The artwork shows a skull that does seem to be part of an art nouveau design. A jarring aspect of this image is that there are individual squares that highlight different parts of a face with an eyeball detached from a socket as one example.
The image stands out due to a background that reflects a universe filled with countless planets.
This piece by Roberlan Borges Paresqui is interesting and the first piece on this list that does use the classic kaleidoscope aesthetic.
Image Source: Dribbble
The outside of the image almost seems to move as a typical representation of OP art. In the center of the work, there is a circle with bright, neon colors. Within the circle, we see an eye that directly contrasts with the ‘blase’ shades of black and brown that the artist used to create the background.
Eliza Osmo created this piece as part of an interesting t-shirt design. The hippie movement clearly inspired this work. The artists inclusion of a hippie camper van with a peace symbol in the center of the artwork supports this claim.
Image Source: 99 Designs
Bees are a symbol that are repeated across the artwork and it does resemble a piece of artwork that could have easily appeared on an album cover around the 60’s. The designs are all reminiscent of this era including the sun with sharp and curled rays.
Alex Grey is largely considered one of the leading psychedelic artists working today. His paintings are designed around translations of hallucinogenic journeys that he has taken and this piece is no different.
Image Source: AlexGrey
What makes it so striking is the color that is combined with a technical level of achievement. This piece was painted in 2006 and is a homage to Albert Hoffman along with his discovery of LSD.
There are various psychedelic artworks that are designed around Jimi Hendrix. However, the work of Martin Sharp is arguably the most definitive.
Image Source: Posters 60s
The Australian artist created a painting that is absolutely incredible with its use of wild colors and Jimi at the center in an almost god-like pose.
An interesting point to note is that the art was redesigned several times due to the original artwork getting Hendrix’s guitar playing hand wrong. Hendrix is of course left-handed.
Pablo Ameringo is the artist who created Huasi Yachana. Scholars widely agree that Ameringo is one of the world’s leading visionary artists. Ameringo has created an instantly recognizable style through his art.
Image Source: Pablo Amaringo
Similar to Grey, his art depicts the various visions that he himself has experienced, often guided by the power of Ayahuasca.
His paintings tend to have a massive level of scope and virtually vibrate with intense colors. There is such a high level of detail in this piece that you can see something new every time you look at the various patterns and images.
Mario Martinez is the artist behind Afterthought. Many people know Martinez for painting from deep within himself. Like with his other paintings, Martinez filled this work with geometric forms that are both bright and colorful.
Image Source: 1XRun
Viewers are drawn to the carefully shaped patterns and wide range of unique textures.
Pieced together, this has led to the creation of some incredibly imaginative compositions that are designed from cloudy shapes straight from space.
9. The Pool
Created by David Normal, you can clearly see the artist’s punk band influences in this particular piece. The neon colors and shades are captivating and it is also easy to see the inspiration from normal’s work in animation and film production.
Image Source: Laughing Squid
The larger-scale painting is a mixture of spirituality, urbanism, religion, and sexuality.
As with Normal’s other works, viewers can easily see that this piece has a clear, deep meaning. Normal has carefully selected every object and color with intention.
This is one of the most interesting modern pieces of psychedelic artwork by an Instagram artist Cult.Class.
Image Source: Instagram
The piece depicts a Volkswagen Beetle on a road to the pyramids UFOs flying overhead. Some believe the work comments on conspiracy theories that aliens designed the pyramids. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating example of surreal design.
The art uses different textures to make certain elements of the piece stand out including the pyramids themselves instead of sinking into the background.
Larry Carlson, who created Buddhism, describes himself as a “Surrealist Supreme.” This is likely a reference to the Marvel Comics character Dr. Strange and it is not difficult to understand why.
In pieces like this, there is a clear sense of precision as well as a rich palette.
Image Source: Instagram
It is possible that the artist created the piece during an experience, which leads us to see how much richer and wilder the work is when you compare it to other modern paintings.
Created by Ernst Fuchs, this piece was largely based around the human condition and the joy as well as the sorrow that comes from being a father.
Image Source: Ernst Fuchs
It’s an interesting piece due to the scope. Rather than simply being a wall hanging, this artwork stretches over a series of painted walls and took more than 20 years to complete. The artist began work in 1998 and finished in 2009.
It sprawls across the walls like a complete, hallucinatory vision, depicting the tale of the biblical apocalypse.
13. I’ve Been There
Jonathan Solter created this piece as one in a series of psychedelic paintings. Some individuals believe Solter made the series based on a personal experience. It’s interesting due to its use of three-dimensional landscapes complete with repeated patterns.
Image Source: Psytshirt
The image has a lot of depth and the energy and light present are a common choice to represent navigating a psychedelic experience.
How To Create Psychedelic Designs
If you are interested in creating your own pieces of psychedelic artwork, then you should explore all of the means to create the work. For instance, you might want to think about using software such as Adobe Illustrator or Vectornator.
This is a great option because it has a short learning curve and you can find lots of tutorials online that will help you along this journey. You could also think about exploring options like Vectornator as well.
Considering how incredibly advanced this graphic design software is, you will be able to create entirely fresh creations that look and feel sophisticated.
Alternatively, you might want to go old school and hand-make your artwork. If you are doing this, you need to start with a sketch before adding different colors and shades through paints.
Remember, there are lots of different ways to express your love of psychedelic designs so you don’t have to fit yourself into one box here. You can instead think about exploring lots of different possibilities.
Ways To Incorporate Psychedelic Designs Into Your Brand and Business
Psychedelic designs are a great way to make your business stand out. If you plan on using trippy colors, shapes and typography, these are the various ways to incorporate them.
1. Logos and Visual Identity
A psychedelic logo and brand identity will make your business look distinctive. Whether you have a swirling pattern or kaleidoscope colors, details such as these will capture your audience’s attention. However, it’s important to focus on the brand’s overall aesthetics. What message do you want to send to your target audience?
Remember that psychedelic designs evoke feelings of creativity and freedom. They can appeal to consumers who appreciate the bold and unconventional. So, be sure to use this design for branding if it’s right for your business and audience.
2. Product Packaging
Psychedelic designs on product packaging create a more immersive experience for consumers. Because they’ve purchased the product from you, they like your chosen look and find your choices enticing. A vivid product design and a great unpackaging experience can make for a more memorable one. Your customers may be more willing to make repeat purchases and tell their friends about the groovy products you sell.
To ensure you use these designs concisely, balance bold graphics with clear product information. For instance, you could use holographic materials with black print to increase contrast and maintain that trippy effect.
3. Social Media
Using psychedelic designs on social media effectively stops users from scrolling through their feeds. You can build a visually arresting presence on platforms like Instagram and promote higher engagement. That’s because these designs break the monotony of users’ feeds, which may lead to higher retention and recall.
If you invest time in integrating these designs into your social media pages, ensure you create a strategy. While it’s tempting to go all out, moderation is key. Overloading followers with wild colors and crazy graphics can be too overstimulating. Instead, blend your psychedelic elements with branded content. That way, the design complements the message rather than overshadows it.
Some ways you can use these designs on social media may be through GIFs, animations and filters.
4. Advertising and Marketing Materials
Another way to contain psychedelic designs and captivate your audience is through advertising and marketing. Doing so may pique their curiosity about your brand and want to know more about what you offer. This typically works because audiences are always looking for fresh and creative content. Therefore, including these elements in your marketing materials may give you the campaign results you aim to achieve.
Use this design style in advertising and marketing materials like print ads, website banners, posters and digital ads. Keep in mind that these materials may have visual appeal, but ensure the message is loud and clear. Psychedelic elements should serve the main message, so be sure to test different versions. Use A/B testing to find the right balance of a captivating design and clear communication.
5. Event Branding
Psychedelic designs in event branding can be a method for creating an energizing atmosphere. It ensures your attendees will be stimulated and engaged when they walk through the door. However, companies can leverage this design in various ways in their branding events. One way to achieve this is through a retro theme. Attendees can travel back in time and dress up like they’re in the 60’s.
You could even set up signage, backdrops and other decor to set the mood. Be sure to choose elements that enhance the experience. The designs must resonate with the event’s theme and message and keep the event’s main purpose in place.
We hope this helps you understand everything that you need to consider when learning more about psychedelic art and creating your own pieces.
If you look at the examples it’s clear that psychedelic art comes in a variety of different forms and there are plenty of exciting modern designers. We have also come a long way from the world of the 60’s with new concepts swirling around modern psychedelic designs.
Artwork can be based around conspiracy theories, religious beliefs, or concepts connected to exploring one’s own mind. If you are interested in learning more, then you should check out some useful resources and websites.
** The views and opinions expressed in this guest post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Designerly. Any content provided by these guest writers are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individuals.
Darya Jandossova Troncoso is a photographer, artist, and writer working on her first novel and managing a digital marketing blog – MarketSplash. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, creating art, and learning everything there is to know about digital marketing.
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