What is psychedelic design? Here’s some inspiration.

So, what exactly makes a design psychedelic (…baby)?

Projector
Projector
Sep 24 · 4 min read

Expand your design toolkit by understanding design trends, styles, and history. When we say “I like how this looks,” what do we really mean? In this series, learn the history and principles behind your favorite designs, and apply them to your next Projector story.

We’ve already learned about the Bauhaus style. Up this week: Psychedelic design.

Let’s get (meta)physical!

The word “psychedelic” — a mix of the Greek psyche, which means mind, and delos, which means manifestingis all about expanding the mind and transforming perception. Its modern roots tend to be traced to San Francisco in the 1960s amidst a time of counterculture revolution, and well, yes… LSD.

As a design style, that which is psychedelic began well before the ’60s. Elements like kaleidoscopic, Art Nouveau typefaces and graphic patterns had been around for centuries. Now, in digital landscapes, the style is perhaps more popular than ever.

Free your mind and the design will follow. Here’s how to make your content super grooooooooovy. Plus, grab our free Psychedelic-inspired templates for presentations, Instagram, and more.

It glows with bright hues

If you want to make it groovy, you’ve gotta think in color. Designs that are truly psychedelic tend to be based in highly saturated, neon-adjacent colors that catch the eye immediately. If you’re stuck between two choices, ask yourself, “Could I see this color on a record sleeve?” or “Do I think my professor who had a little too much fun in the ’60s owns a graphic t-shirt in this hue?”

Color palettes for creating psychedelic designs

It ~flows~ through gradients

Psychedelic designs are great because they basically say, “whatever.” One of the best ways to get a cooler, more free-flowing feel is to utilize gradients. In Projector you can easily create your own gradients out of whatever colors you want — but you can also search for awesome stock gradients to meld into your design. Either way, just let it go and let it all flow.

How to create a gradient to make your next design look psychedelic

It expresses movement

There’s a reason hypnotists swing a watch back and forth: movement is inherently entrancing! From rainbow swirls to neon smudges, the psychedelic look tends to be laced with motion. In Projector, the swirl, bulge, and pinch effects can be especially helpful to create a design that moves and shakes.

How to give your designs movement

How to apply Psychedelic design to your next story

If you’re as excited about a groovy, new vibe like we are, you’ll be tempted to use the Psychedelic Set for almost everything. However, we think there are three key occasions that really set the stage for a more “chill” way to showcase your work.

Earn more edge for your brand

The magic of the psychedelic look-and-feel is its ability to leverage past inspiration while somehow making present-day work more relevant. When you’re looking to present work that is more fun in tone or is connecting more deeply to the zeitgeist, this “happening” template adds an extra dose of flare to any presentation or design asset. Did we mention that it will hold the audience’s attention, so they’ll have to pay attention?

A free presentation template with psychedelic style

Add some fluidity to any presentation deck

One of the biggest challenges in creating a deck from both a strategy and design perspective is cohesion. At times, really great ideas can be lost in a theme-less deck. The solve? Meditative presentation (think of it like hypnotherapy, but make it business!). The psychedelic ethos literally helps to put the minds of your clients or internal teams at ease, dressing up your ideas and tactical next steps with soothing shapes, colors, and gradients. Gone are the days of people dreading your next deck! Try this template.

A free pitch deck template with psychedelic style

Make a small message big

With any kind of social assets, the media is the message. Psychedelic designs tend to be loud and eye-catching, so you can make any message — even the smallest of a copy-centric Instagram Story — pop and hold court. The next time you want to update your followers with a short message, consider doing it with some groove and flare — like you’ll see here.

Free Instagram Story templates with psychedelic style

If you’re looking to ~experiment a little~ with psychedelic design, try starting with a template from the Projector template library. As you play around, think of Nina Simone’s classic lyrics, “I’ve put a spell on you, and now you’re mine.”

If you haven’t already, you can sign up for Projector for free here.

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