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Maximalism: Madness or magic?

Updated: May 27, 2019



It’s hard to draw attention when you look just like the brand next door. So what can you do to spice up your brand in 2019? Well Maximalism, for one, might just be a solution.


But wait: Hasn’t minimalism always been the way to go? JA. That was the general consensus by many up and until 2017. Clean content and simple living from A-symmetrical haircuts to nude foods. Need a reference? Simply date track the first results on a Google search of “minimalism”.


Brands have become over saturated with the idea of ‘less is more’ and grew a little more than bored with the minimal status quo. It simply just doesn’t capture your attention anymore. To understand why Maximalism is important in 2019, let’s quickly break it down for you.


What on earth is Maximalism?


Maximalism is excess, variety and being elaborate. It is all about exploring the potential of a space, whether that is a room or a page. An example of this ultra-everything concept is evident in the repetition of words and images, a common practice in maximalist design that creates a mesmerizing effect.


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“If it hurts your eyes, it's probably Maximalism; or a solar eclipse.” - Mariah Driver, content producer at Webflow

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Maximalism is a rebellion against Minimalism just like Postmodernism was a rebellion against Modernism. Canva, the Australian Graphic-Design Unicorn, states that both Postmodernism and Maximalism “ignores traditional conventions in favour of (the) expressive and playful that often references historic design and/or combines high culture with pop culture.


”In addition, we can take a note out the book of Trinity College’s SOUND CHECK website. Colours like saturated pinks and oranges were used along with jarring sound effects that create an unexpected surprise when you hover over the words on the site, staying true to maximalist principles. For more websites like these, check out this list by Webflow.


Why is Maximalism a great idea?


Steve Lawler, editor of kult, encourages maximalist design explaining, “we do embrace the sort of chaotic, mad, maximalist type of artists, because I think it’s hard to mimic.”


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"It’s madness AND magic!"

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That’s Maximalism summarised - madness and magic. Chances are you’ll never see the same completed piece of work, twice. Every element is uniquely incorporated and designed with talented reason. What’s even better is that not everyone will perceive a maximalist design in the same way. Sure, there might be certain focal points, but try making everything element a focal point. With enough skill you might be surprised by an optical illusion of sorts or even a sense of emotion.


Essentially, it’s all about keeping your audience entertained. Maximalist artists want to draw spectators in. So break the rules, fill up the page and make sure they keep watching...


If you’re interested in learning more about Maximalism and the psychology behind it, take a look at this video by The Audiopedia.


How can I take my brand to the MAX(imalism)?


Anyone can make up an “imalism”, but according to Graphic Design tool website Canva there are 10 ways to incorporate Maximalism in your brand’s next ad campaign or corporate identity refresher. Follow the link above to have a look at their tips and/or keep on reading for more of ours below:


1. Pretty is boring.




Maximalism screams out that your colour selection does not have to be pretty - what’s pretty anyway? What catches the eye is the unusual and the unexpected. Rather combine the bold and the less beautiful, dull and saturated hues. Make a colour splash and make it clash! It’s all about the factor of surprise! When considering your maximalist colours you should think red-hot summer, eating an orange or being tickled pink.


Hattie Stewart is a ‘Professional doodler’ who uses bold colours to adulterate glossy magazine covers. Not only does she embrace the maximalist way, but her website was also featured on a Webflow blog - identifying some of the best maximalist websites out there.


2. Be visually noisy!





Overconsumption is bad, right? Wrong. Maximalism feeds off over-the-top over-consumption. ‘Wanting more’ and ‘seeing more’ demands that more senses are more present.


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"More, more, more, more, more...."

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A complicated, chaotic image will keep you intrigued until you’ve figured out why the specific visual noise intrigues you.


It’s critical to embrace the conflict that Maximalism will inflict on any existing internal simplicity you might cherish. Ditch your design comfort zone and force yourself to experience that which makes you uncomfortable. Think David Carson rebellion.


Become more uncomfortable, become more confusing, become more - MORE.


3. Overdo. Overdraw. Overplay.





Repetition is everything. When you feel that you’ve communicated what you needed to say - Say it again. Copy patterns, overlay textures, overdo colours and just play with the madness that Maximalism allows. When in doubt, make a U-turn back to the core belief of Maximalism: “More is more!” Go overboard - limits are lame.

4. For Striking Out Loud





“Be bold! Be brave! Be amazing!” as Simon de Pury exclaims in every single episode of Work of Art: The Next Great Artist.


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"Be loud with colour and extreme with your shapes!"

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Think like a drama-*insert monarchy title here* and design like one too! Think of that person that fills up the room with their presence.


5. Subtlety sucks




STOP OVERTHINKING EVERYTHING YOU ANTHROPOMORPHOUS PERAMBULATOR! With Maximalism you have to stop being subtle and start saying “So what?” The critical take-away here is that you should have more faith in your capacity to add value on this planet!


6. Harmonious chaos


Organised chaos sleeps gently at the core of Maximalism. Chaos evokes, captures and expands your senses.


Explore the full potential of space and push the boundaries of balance. This golden rule seems to be the only corresponding element between Maximalism and Minimalism and might just be the only rule in Maximalism itself.


It’s a powerful rule and might just be the “go” or “no” that determines your design’s success. Our advice? Aim for consistency in either the colour scheme or pattern creation.


7. Textu(r)al healing.


All principles of Maximalism can be incorporated into your text. It is about being clever with your use of words and the way you repeat them. Consider when and where you use repetition.


Does it make sense? Is it contributing value in being the over-the-top statement Maximalism requires?


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"Create texture with(in) text."

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Make it pop, use a heavy font and consider some tinted shadows. Use maximalist elements to create texture and enhance the message that you are trying to get across. Repeat the textual messaging through the use of visual elements and make sure your voice is heard .


Do you agree that it’s time for a new approach?

Are you ready to update and improve your brand through the wow factor that maxi brings? If the answer is yes, but you’re afraid that the madness of Maximalism will take away the harmony of your brand, then shed the stress - we can help!


We love trends, because they are there to keep us updated with worldly events. Incorporating them in a sensible way is critical and the appropriate design principles have to be applied skilfully to make them work effectively for your brand.


If you said JA. to Maximalism, then say JA. to JA. You don’t have to decide now, but while you think about it - check out our website: https://www.ja-culture.com/


Maximum Regards, The JA. Team www.ja-culture.com www.ja-culture.com www.ja-culture.com Great - you got it!

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

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