Art may be free form as it is expressive in nature, but graphic design is considered as an objective way to solve communication problems. This makes graphic design have certain rules and guidelines that designers often need to follow to make their designs more effective.
These rules are called principles of graphic design. These principles consist of contrast, balance, alignment, proximity, hierarchy, and repetition.
As one of the main principles of graphic design, repetition is important for lots of reasons. In this article, we’ll discuss the basic principles of repetition in graphic design.
Generally, repetition’s root word repeat is defined by the Oxford Languages as “an action, event, or other things that occur or are done again.”
In graphic design, repetition is the act of repeating the same or similar design elements and making them come together as a cohesive whole.
This repetition can be done by repeating the same design elements in your design, like colors, fonts, lines, shapes, sizes, and texture, among others.
This repetition can be applied by repeating the same element in one design. But repetition can also be applied by repeating the same overall style throughout an entire collection of work.
By consistently repeating styles, consumers are now able to associate these repetitions to your brand because repetition is what triggers their memories to recall. With repetition, each separate design you put out can now be distinguished to all come from the same brand.
This is the very essence of brand identity.
In fact, renowned graphic designer Gareth David stated that repetition fulfills graphic design’s purpose to “insist upon a particular message which lingers and becomes familiar … The more we see something, the more we familiarize with it, thus remember it.”
It works because having a consistent brand identity through repetition not only makes consumers remember your brand, but it also gives them the comfort of familiarity.
Without repetition, there can be no consistent style nor identity. But too much of it can make your designs overwhelming or uninspired and not creative, making it crucial for every graphic designer to learn the principles of repetition and its proper use.
Beyond individual designs and collections of work, repetition can be seen more broadly on design trends as well. Repetitions in design trends are not meant to make the same, unoriginal works, but they serve as inspirations to communicate better to different types of people who already have their own distinct design preferences.
Each design trend has its own distinct element that becomes repeated throughout different individual works. A few examples of these design trends are art deco, minimalism, and isometric design.
Digging deeper, there are three principles (or methods) of repetition.
Repetition in itself is actually one of the three repetition methods as well. Repetition as a method just means any repetitive use of a design element in a certain work.
For example, this method can be seen in works that use the same colored triangles spread out in the entire design.
The pattern is a method of making a repetitive use of the same design elements that are the same in size, or shape, or even color to make a cohesive whole. Because of their distinct repetition and uniformity, these patterns can go on forever.
A classic example of a pattern is the polka dots design. The polka dots design uses the same sized and colored circles spread out in the entire work.
Patterns can also be incorporated through the repetitive use of a limited number of colors. This is called a color palette.
Google uses a distinct color palette that can be seen all throughout their products and apps.
In music, repetitions can be interpreted as rhythm. Rhythm gives enough space and interval to each repeating element to give it a certain cadence and harmony.
In graphic design, visual rhythm is when repetitive design elements create movement. Though its size, shape, color, or even spaces are not particularly the exact same as each other, rhythm still gives a particular design some sense of uniformity and a seamless flow of movement.
Repetition is one of graphic design’s main principles that particularly deals with the repetitive use of the same or similar design elements to create a unified work.
It is important in creating distinct and consistent graphic design styles and brand identities.
On a broader scale, design trends use repetitive elements as well as a means of inspiration to other graphic designs.
There are three repetition principles or methods: repetition, pattern, and rhythm. They give uniformity, cadence, and movement to graphic design.
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