What is contemporary art and how to use it in your design?



It can be tough to find inspiration for your designs. However, the world of art can be a fantastic place to learn from. There are so many artistic styles that can elevate your projects and contemporary art is one worth exploring. Contemporary art is defined by a modern generation of artists who seek to challenge the norms and conventions of the artistic industries. It’s about thinking outside of the box and approaching design in a way that speaks to today’s audiences.

If you want to learn more about the characteristics of contemporary art and how they can be applied to your designs, then continue reading. These tips can be applied to any project you work on in the free-to-use Adobe Express. Most importantly, you can edit the customisable Adobe Express templates to continue drawing from each new breakthrough in the contemporary art landscape.

Key characteristics of the contemporary art.

There are many ways to define contemporary art, and there are countless art forms and styles within the subcategory to dive into. But beyond the use of brilliant colour combinations, varied textures, or perhaps unusual material usage, in its most fundamental form contemporary art can be identified by four key characteristics.


Contemporary art uses abstract imagery in its composition. Traditional art attempts to depict its subject or topic in recognisable ways, but abstract art plays with unconventional shapes, colours and materials to represent the obscure about the subject of discussion.


Contemporary art is about throwing away the old methods or repurposing them in a new capacity. Contemporary artists are experimental and embraces new ideas and techniques.

Creates conversations

Art has always been crafted to create conversations and shine the light on a subject or topic worth talking about. It is often provocative or controversial. Contemporary art takes on some of the biggest themes of the time, from poverty to sexism and climate change.

Utilises new tools

Contemporary art uses tools that haven’t traditionally been used in the art world. It plays with an array of senses, from sound and smell to sight. Whether it’s through a brush and a canvas or perhaps a sculpture, artists have found ways to incorporate unusual elements into their designs. Technology, like Adobe Express’ Firefly generative AI, can play a critical part in today’s contemporary art landscape.

Take a look at these templates perfect for contemporary wall art.

Editable contemporary poster examples for your wall.

Adobe Express features a huge variety of free-to-use poster templates which you can edit and customise to create contemporary wall art. Contemporary art can serve as fantastic inspiration when creating your designs.

Experiment with your quote posters

Adobe’s quote poster templates can help you to collate your favourite quotes from fiction and non-fiction. Look for contemporary art imagery that can represent the meaning behind the quote and use that powerful symbolism in your designs and unconventional shapes, colour combinations and styles to truly make your poster stand out.

Get abstract with your movie posters

Adobe Express’ film poster templates will help you celebrate your favourite films with the use of contemporary art. While traditionally film posters will feature shots of the cast and iconic scenes, you can customise the template to try something a little different. Reflect on the colours, sounds and shapes you associate with the film and convey the story on your poster using abstract elements.

Discover poster templates that you can customise.

Useful things to know.

Does contemporary art contain rules I have to follow?

The beauty of contemporary art is that there are no rules. The only principle that a designer needs to think about is the concept of throwing away traditional methods.

Are there any inspirational contemporary artists?

Artists such as Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Andy Warhol and Diane Arbus have helped to shape today’s contemporary art scene.

Can I combine contemporary art with other design styles?

Contemporary art isn’t just an art style, but a way of reframing the industry. When designing your contemporary art, you may take the principles of other art forms and morph them using contemporary characteristics.