Tiny Trends

Tiny Trend #11: Organic + Digital UI Decorations

The blend of high fidelity and organic elements ain’t just for your grandma’s scrapbook

I struggled to figure out how to name this trend. Essentially it boils down to mixing in organic elements with standard digital elements. The more advanced techniques use photos or distinct pattern fills cropped into organic elements. Others simply overlay illustrations onto either photos or fonts.

In some ways this feels reminiscent of old scrapbooks but more recently it reminds me of how South Park would weave in actual imagery into their otherwise paper-cutout aesthetic:

Today this technique has gone mainstream, judging by the very well-known design teams that are using it. I think this is reflective of how difficult it is to pull this technique off well; only the best design teams are doing it.

Without further ado, here are some stellar examples of this trend.

Yes, Spacey is a creep, but the graphic treatment that Netflix used earlier this year was amazing.

Dropbox 404 page

Medium’s iOS app splash page

Mailchimp is using this in email campaigns as well.

Slack. Heard of them?

These examples do this in simpler way by simply adding handwritten elements to headlines. There’s something very 90’s about it but it’s somehow more elegant today.


When I’m not mixing organic and digital elements, I’m working on Sketch design tools at UX Power Tools to make you a better, more efficient designer.

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