Intro to graphic design styles part 2: Vintage & Retro
Borrowing from the past with vintage and retro graphic style

Vintage and Retro graphic design styles are loosely defined as any style that borrows from the past. However, the past is relative. Most of the clients I work with associate vintage and retro with the 50s & 60s. I associate it with the 90’s.

Frankly, I love this style. Vintage / retro looks used within brand identities naturally imply a vibe of longevity, which implies your business has been around a long time.

Here are my top choices on how to design with that “Vintage Feel”

Aging and distressing your design: An aged or weathered look can really make a design feel like it belongs in a different era. Features like scratches, sun fades, un-polished or worn-in flair makes any design to appear older than it is. Items may need some tacks, pin-hole or ripped corners; or maybe faded, peeling tape marks. All of this is a subtle add-on which makes a design looked aged or distressed. If you think you can get away with it, add some hand-written notes or doodles on the piece. Have fun with it.

Media types: Replicating older photography, such as, Polaroid pictures, aged newspapers prints, vintage poster boards or even metal signs, easily create a vintage or retro graphic design. You can replicate the look of aged paper, wood and metal by including scratches, chips or fades. Metal can also be designed so it looks bent or rusty.

Colours: Colour is bound by fads. Try to work with the design colours that were trending in the decade you’re trying to capture.

Typography: Fonts are bound to fads as well Try to work with the fonts of the era your design is set in.

Imagery & icons: The best thing to do is here is to work with the iconic technology of the era. Images of a rotary phone, record player or cool cars from the day work wonders.

Of course, rules are meant to be broken. Using technology that wasn’t a part of an era or a mash-up of styles and effects works beautifully.

This is how new styles are born. Just remember, you’re always walking a fine-line. Be careful with going overboard.