As we all know, graphic design is a relatively new career field to be in. Perhaps it would be better to say that graphic design as we know it now is a new vocation to have. Even with our current advanced technology helping us design at fast speeds and in high quality, things are constantly changing. What's popular this year may not be popular two years from now. Keeping up with design trends could shoot us forward from being just another designer, to being a valuable employee. Ultimately, it is one of the many ways for us as individuals to stay competitive in the graphic design world. It's our personal responsibility to educate ourselves and stay in the loop.
Knowing what's in style in terms of color, layout, typography, etc. is vital to actively participate in brainstorming and ideation for a project. This is also important in communicating with clients and those above you; understanding references and comparisons while trying to imitate a style or feeling in design helps avoid confusion and promote efficiency in completing a project. Therefore, on a larger scale, being aware of what's going on in the graphic design world will help the company you're working for stay competitive in the market, which in turn makes you a competitive designer in the field.
Fortunately, we can depend on the Internet to inform us of design trends before we get into the work force. Can you imagine trying to appear knowledgeable in an interview without being able to look at the company's website to see their portfolio, or using the Google machine to inform yourself on what's new in graphic design? The tool is there, so we need to use it. Here are some fun articles and sites I came across that talk a bit how to keep up with design trends (first link) and some professional designers' opinions on current trends (second link).
Looking at company's portfolios, personal portfolios and keeping up with design blogs can give you an idea of what's out there and what's the topic of conversation. This is one such blog, who happened to post on logo trends for 2010. An interesting highlight on this blog: "One should not follow trends for the sake of following them." I think part of being a good, and competitive, designer is knowing when to follow a trend, and when to take a risk and go outside the box. So, step one is being familiar with what's trendy. Step two is deciding if and when the style should be used.
We all need to take a personal responsibility in educating ourselves as we prepare for the real world of design. If we do so, our portfolio will obviously be better and we will be able to talk about our work in a professional way... but once we get that job we want, the potential to become a valuable designer who can contribute to concepting and developing of a design/idea is much higher.