Astrology in Design: Why Brands are Looking to the Stars for Inspiration

Astrology in Design: Why Brands are Looking to the Stars for Inspiration

Enjoying a resurgence across graphic design and illustration, astrological themes are being creatively reimagined for millennial audiences.

In this article, we explore why astrology is so popular in design—and culture—today. Discover inspirational examples of astrological design, from starry logos to spiritualist illustrations, and learn why even the most skeptical of designers can’t afford to overlook this fast-growing trend.

Read on to discover tips for illustrators, graphic designers, and photographers looking to dip a toe into astrological design, from using 70s-inspired earth tones to creating modern interpretations of zodiac characters.

Astrology in DesignImage by contributor MURRIRA.

What Is Astrology?

An ancient form of divination, astrology claims to offer understanding about terrestrial events and individuals’ characteristics based on the movements and positions of celestial objects. Originating in Mesopotamia in the 19th-17th centuries BCE, ancient Greece, Rome, and the Arab world all practiced astrology..

Astrological ClockA historic astrological clock in Venice, Italy. Image by contributor Viacheslav Lopatin.

By the Medieval period, astrology was considered a science in the Western world. And, although research has since discredited it as an empirical science, astrology has enjoyed various bouts of popularity over the 20th and 21st centuries, most notably during the inter-war period of the 1920s, 1960s, and 1970s. And, perhaps most surprisingly, in the last decade. 

Millennials have rediscovered and reclaimed astrology with enthusiasm, seeing no contradiction between scientific belief and maintaining an avid interest in birth charts, horoscopes, and star signs. 

Boho HandsBirth charts, horoscopes, and star signs are still studied with enthusiasm. Image by contributor KNST ART STUDIO.

Why Does Astrology Appeal to Millennials?

In the age of science, what attracts individuals to astrology? Past reasoning points the finger at cultural anxiety, which credits the rise in interest in astrology (and other alt-spiritualities) to an increasingly agitated and uncertain world. Anxiety around pandemics, climate change, and political unease can be soothed through the systematic and logical approach of drawing an astrological chart. Likewise, logging onto an astrology app like Co-Star can reassure you that bad days and worries are part of the normal flow of astrological movements. 

Astrological Birth ChartAstrological birth charts are a popular baby shower gift in the 2020s. Image by contributor Bada1.

Of course, this is the cynical view and not the whole picture. Astrology has a unique appeal linked to powerful storytelling and an individualist focus. With a system of data that can be read, but also interpreted, astrology allows individuals to be seen, while simultaneously telling them that fate plays a greater role in their daily lives than their own actions. As Christine Smallwood comments in her New Yorker piece, “Astrology in the Age of Uncertainty,” what astrology offers “isn’t certainty—it’s distance.” 

The 2021 brand of astrology is really founded on psychological astrology, an individualist form of astrology which offers the promise of enhanced wellbeing and behaves like a life coach, goals which are promoted through “Astro apps” and social media. 

Zodiac SignsHoroscope or “Astro app” design varies from the conservative and classical (Co-Star) to colorful and vibrant (Astrology Daily Horoscope), designed to appeal to a variety of young female users. Image by contributor svetabelaya.

Space IllustrationsWith Instagram Stories templates themed on astrology now widely available, it’s possible to share your readings with your social media followers. Image by contributor Mio Buono.

Why Is Astrology Experiencing a Revival in Design?

Given that many millennials have rediscovered astrology through its psychological appeal and accessibility on social media, then why is astrological design experiencing such a huge revival?

A recent report found that Americans spend $2.2 billion each year on “mystical services,” including palmistry, tarot reading, and astrology. Investors, taking note, are backing the trend and recognizing its appeal to female audiences, in particular. Astrology app Co-Star, which has six million downloads, has an 80% female userbase, with an average age of twenty-four. 

Co-Star AppDesign plays a subtle, but powerful, role in astrology app Co-Star. Minimal monochrome illustrations and elegant serif type set the scene that this is astrology with serious undertones. A far cry from a magazine horoscope column.

For brands, astrology also has lucrative appeal as a broadly-followed movement, but without the label of organized religion. In other words, using a crucifix in a product line risks religious backlash, but a zodiac sign on a shower curtain is inoffensive. Astrology, for some, is a way of life. But, for others, it offers a little escapism and fantasy. You can be a devout observer of charts and signs, but you can also buy a kookily-illustrated book that helps you gauge the astrological personality of your cat.

Zodiac SignThe courageous, determined, confident Aries. Image by contributor KNST ART STUDIO.

Apart from stone-cold commercialism, the appeal of astrology for creatives is also evident, and an increasing number of designers and illustrators are looking to the stars for inspiration. Astrology, with its rich history and poetic storytelling, has a romance and ethereality that’s endlessly appealing. So, this multi-faceted universe of zodiacs, mythologies, and complex, beautifully-drawn charts offer endless fresh inspiration for creative minds. 

Millennial designers are both followers and purveyors of astrological design, exploring and developing an alt-spiritual world that can be shared on social media. The growth in astrological design is being led overwhelmingly by young female creatives, galvanized by astrology’s long-held associations with femininity, and drawing on its parallels with witchcraft, palmistry, and paganism. 

Celestial IllustrationsCelestial talis-women at work. Image by contributor Madiwaso.

How Can I Use Astrology in My Own Designs?

Whether you’re a budding astrologer or simply dipping a toe into the world of horoscopes, illustrators, graphic designers, and photographers can engage with new audiences by using astrological themes in their imagery. Illustrators can apply their own style and creative flair to personality types, horoscope signs, or planetary alignments. Meanwhile graphic designers can use astrological themes to give book covers, magazines, or posters a sense of mystery and gravitas. 

Illustration

Illustration in particular allows for a high level of creativity when producing astrological imagery. Create your own fantastical versions of zodiac animals. Or, try to blend astrological references with individuals doing modern-day tasks, like practicing mindfulness, yoga, or using a horoscope app.

Hand-Drawn IllustrationImage by contributor Tanya Antusenok.

Cosmic IllustrationImage by contributor Mystery Kit.

Zodiac IllustrationRe-imagine the Zodiac with modern elements and vivid colors. Image by contributor svetabelaya.

Branding and Graphic Design

For brands looking to commission design work based on astrological themes, there’s the potential to offer something unique and compelling for young, female audiences, in particular. Furniture, fashion, and beauty are just a few sectors in which astrological design is featuring more prominently, with some brands offering to match customers with their perfect product or design based on their zodiac sign.

Graphic designers can reference astrological elements in designs for packaging, publications, and posters. Collage styles bring a vintage-inspired, punkish element to designs, while traditional serif typography fits particularly well with the newly serious tone of astrology in 2021.

In terms of color, 70s-inspired earth tones make a natural pairing with astrology-themed designs, paying tribute to the last decade when astrology was widely popular. Plus, moody, mysterious blacks and inky blues are an atmospheric backdrop to text and graphics. For packaging designs, minimal layouts and handcrafted scripts help to make these designs feel both aspirational and personalized. 

Mood BoardFrom perfume (Zodica Perfumery) to clothing (Sezane), to trinket plates (Urban Outfitters), astrology is now a common theme across commercially designed products. 

Wine Bottle ArtDesigner Jaelen Brock was inspired by the Dada art movement and collage in creating label designs for Retrograde Wine. The designs are also influenced by astrology and mysticism, with a female-focused style that’s a striking example of aspirational astrological design. 

Photography

Photographers can use astrology as a starting point for creatively edited images that incorporate ethereal or surreal elements for editorial work or fashion photography. Keep in mind that 2021’s version of astrology is more sophisticated and aspirational than novel, so try to foster a subtle and spiritual mood in your images.

Blending 3D or illustrated elements into your photos in post-editing—such as planets, stars, or charts—can create multi-layered images with depth and interest that feel cinematic and immersive.

Orange MoonImage by contributor Teo Tarras.

Girl on BeachImage by contributor Anton27.

PlanetsUse stars, charts, and planets to give your designs an expansive feel. Image by contributor Sergey Nivens.

Conclusion: Why Brands and Creatives Will Look to the Stars in 2021

The astrology resurgence appears to be no fleeting flash in the pan. The movement has been growing steadily over the last few years, and continues to attract fresh interest from millennial and, in particular, female audiences. After a turbulent 2020, the escapist themes of astrology are not only attractive, but becoming increasingly essential in a world where, sometimes, we might feel like control is beyond our grasp. 

In turn, big brands and independent businesses are taking note, producing commercially designed products that aim to entice the intrigued and the converted. While their output varies from the unimaginative (zodiac signs on anything and everything) to the highly creative, the trend for astrological products and design sees no signs of waning in the near future.

With its heady combination of poetic storytelling and a varied, individualist universe, astrology is also attracting creatives looking for unique inspiration for their projects. From illustrators to graphic designers, photographers to product designers, there’s something inescapably mystical and enigmatic about astrological themes. Perhaps the best thing about astrology for creatives is that it can be interpreted and reimagined, and doesn’t abide by strict laws concerning how characters or concepts are depicted. The night sky is a blank canvas—open to all.

Intrigued by the occult, or simply star-struck by space? Discover these celestial and mystical-themed articles:

Occulture Trend Report: Selling the Mystical to a Millennial MarketHow to Create Something “Out of This World” with Space ImagesAbstract and Intimate: Surreal Faces Is 2021’s Most Human Design TrendFinding the Female Gaze in Photography and MediaThe Promise of the Red Planet: Imagining Life on Mars

Cover image by contributor Sergey Nivens.

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