All about abstract art and how to use it in your designs.

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What is abstract art?

Abstract art is a style of art that uses shape, form, colour and line to break away from accurate portrayals of reality. It emerged in the mid-19th century as part of the Modern Art Movement, which saw a shift from traditional art and philosophies.

Pioneered by Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky, abstract art is all about context and concept rather than aesthetics.

Read on to learn more about the style elements of abstract art, and how to use it in your own creative projects. You can also find a range of free abstract art templates to help you get started. Where will your creativity take you?

Key characteristics and abstract art examples.

They say life imitates art, but abstract art is hard to mimic. That’s because it’s quite literally a departure from reality. When you come across modern abstract art, you’ll notice a few key attributes.

Abstract art is non-representational, so you won’t find artwork with specific objects or scenes. It’s also nontraditional, often breaking away from conventional art forms. Abstract art primarily deals with emotion and expression to convey an idea or concept. And since it doesn’t follow a plan or set of rules, abstract art is categorically seen as intuitive or spontaneous.

Classic abstract art examples include:

Tips for creating your abstract art ideas with Adobe Express.

Looking to use abstract art in your own posters, flyers or invitations? The good news is that there are no rules when it comes to abstract art. But there are still some fundamental ideas and characteristics to consider – from minimal layouts to bold colours.

Here are some tips for creating modern abstract art, whether it’s for personal use, business branding or marketing materials.

Don’t be afraid to go big.

Abstract art encourages imagination – focusing on concept and ideas rather than visual realism. The trick is to be as elaborate and purposeful as you want, from organic and halftone to Memphis style art.

Surrealism, while not entirely abstract, blends reality with unconventional realist imagery to create a distorted sense of realism. Meanwhile, relief sculpture art translates abstract concepts into 3D form for dynamic effect. Try using these abstract art styles for personalised ads. Thinking outside the box with such unconventional designs can help to expand your reach.

Splash and splatter hues.

Paint splatter is a common technique used in abstract art prints, popularised by its freeing, eclectic feel. Splash, splatter and drip styles carry their own charm while bringing movement, colour and texture to layouts.

While this technique is disorderly in nature, it serves as a uniform and versatile backdrop for typography and print designs such as posters and banners. The more colours used, the more effective. It’s eye-catching, but not too distracting, providing a lasting impression and adding character to your creation.

Use block colours.

Art is a form of expression that transcends language, and colour is a popular tool used to create effective abstract art. Blocks of colour can elevate any design, with interwoven hues and vivid colour contrasts adding a dramatic effect to your work.

Explore the full potential of block colours inspired by Mark Rothko and Piet Mondrian for colourful abstract art ideas. Simple patches of colour in a grid-based format serves as a vivid backdrop on flyers and gift certificates.

Go surreal with lines and form.

Line art is another hallmark of abstract artists from the 1950s and 1960s. This technique uses continuous lines to create forms and shapes. Draw inspiration from artist Joan Miró and combine surrealist subject matters with abstract line drawings for intricate, yet minimalist artwork.

The simplicity of line art is what makes it truly unique. Placed atop bold colours or blank canvasses, these lines and forms can communicate concepts, icons and logos. Sometimes these simple abstract art ideas can be more effective than complex designs and themes.

Create texture with marbling and cubism.

Texture reflects the versatility of abstract art and comes in various forms. Marbled designs and backgrounds, for example, create the appearance of suspended coloured ink on water. These ethereal patterns can work well on a business card for a more tactile look and feel.

Cubism represents all possible viewpoints of an object in one go to create fragmented and geometric abstract art. This technique is commonly used to create immersive 3D backgrounds for presentations, posters and flyers.

Abstract art prints, patterns, and colours.

While abstract art embodies spontaneous artistic expression, there are common patterns, colours and prints you can try. Pattern is a key visual element in abstract art. Asymmetric, geometric, organic, symmetric, regular and irregular sequences are all used to create compelling compositions.

Colour also plays a major role. Combine complex or simple patterns with bold secondary hues like purple and cyan for a standout print. Or use muted pastel tones like baby blue and mauve for bright online projects. Monochromatic prints with black and white abstract art can be just as striking.

With platforms like Adobe Express, you can create your own modern abstract art to elevate your design and transform your brand.

Useful things to know.

What does abstract mean in art?

Abstract means the separation of something from something else. Abstract in art relates to artwork that doesn’t represent concrete reality. Instead, abstract art uses shapes, textures, forms and colours to portray an idea or concept rather than specific elements like people, objects or actions.

When did abstract art start?

Abstract art started in 1910 and is believed to be coined by Russian painter Vassily Kandinsky. The emergence of abstract art ties in with the Modern Art Movement in the mid-19th century. The movement saw a shift from traditional styles to a more experimental approach to art, including Impressionism, Expressionism, Surrealism and more.

What is the difference between abstract and impressionist art?

Abstract art is a style of art that does not represent reality. It portrays a concept of idea through specific colours, lines, shapes and textures. In contrast, Impressionist art represents immediacy and movement through unblended colour and small, loose brushstrokes that offer an ‘impression’ of form. Both styles are vague, but Impressionism is representational and can easily be determined.