Going Vintage with Graphic Design: What You Need to Know

If there is one thing that will never go out of style, it’s vintage. In fact, it can often seem that the more technology progresses, the more interested people are becoming in this trend. This is perhaps because it is classic, and therefore, timeless.

Now, if you are looking to include vintage elements in your graphic design, then you are certainly in for a fun time. However, before you get started, it is important to understand that there are some stylistic rules in place. If you really want to capture the spirit of vintage, then it is important that you follow them. 

On that note, here are the top things you need to know about vintage graphic design techniques: 

Know What You Are Trying to Create 

These days, the term vintage gets thrown about readily. The truth, though, is that few people actually know what they are talking about. This is mostly because vintage is more of a conjured up term than anything else. 

Still, as a rule of thumb, something is considered “vintage” if it is more than twenty years old. This applies to design as well. So, in terms of your graphic design, you need to start looking for inspiration from eras over twenty years ago. 

It should be noted, though, that when most people think of vintage, they are thinking of a time from at least 50 years ago. So, it is best to look to the 1960s and earlier when trying to come up with ideas. You will then find that your designs are better received. 

Be Aware of the Different Styles 

Now that you are aware of what vintage actually means, it is time to take into consideration that each era had its own signature “feel.” As such, you will need to think of vintage graphic design in terms of different styles. 

For instance, when most people think of the early 1920s, they think of glitz and glamor. Therefore, your designs should be reminiscent of something like The Great Gatsby. The 1950s, on the other hand, were a slightly more subdued time, so your artwork will need to reflect that. 

Strive for Authenticity 

On this note, it is important to strive for authenticity whenever possible. So, when making the change from “printed” to digital, the designs should translate smoothly. It is the only real way that your audience is going to buy the idea that you are trying to sell with your designs. 

One way to do this is by using older photographs, from the era that you are recreating the designs. You should be able to find these in your own family collection or thrift stores. This will be an excellent starting point since you can see firsthand just what elements you need to incorporate into your own artwork. 

One thing you will notice about many of these images is that the color is often amiss. To get a clearer idea of what the hues are supposed to look like, send in the images to a restoration service. If you peruse a site such as www.instarestoration.com, they colorize the images to mimic what they would look like in modern times. In doing so, you will be able to pick out many more details that might have gone unnoticed. So, this is definitely something you should consider doing. 

Making Elements Work Together 


The thing to bear in mind about vintage is that there are so many different factors at play. Just consider another artist’s vintage design for a moment. With a glance, you can see that colors, stylistic approaches, and background all blend together to create a greater impact. 

This is why you can’t drop the ball when it comes to any of these details. They need to be painstakingly recreated if you want to create a more realistic effect. To manage this, it is all about doing research. The good news for you, though, is that most of it is visual. 

An easy way to figure out how to have all the different elements to work together is to look at old advertisements. After all, this is how modern audiences can even identify vintage. Therefore, it will be an excellent source for you to draw upon. 

For example, let’s take a look at the 1950s adverts for a moment. The government-issued ads were often black-and-white or neutral-toned. The font was similarly somber. However, when you look at commercial ads, these have a watercolor-like effect to them. The fonts and the colors are a little more comical as well. 

Another way to create more cohesive artwork is to start from one point and then use it as a focal point. This could be an image, logo, or font. Or, if you are trying to be more abstract, you can even start with a color palette. The choice is yours. 

Peppering Modern Elements in a Vintage Theme 

Unless you are perfectly recreating your graphics with a vintage vibe, it is important to think of your modern audience. If your artwork is a little too vintage, you may just end up losing them. Thus, you need to find a way to add some contemporary features without losing the older look.

One way to do this is with the help of minimalism. As you are aware, minimalistic design is a rather nouveau concept. So, while vintage design often requires you to bombard your artwork with images, fonts, or color, you can add a modern twist by keeping it simple. 

Doing so will ensure that the eye is drawn to the elements that are truly important. This way, all of your hard work will be appreciated. What’s more, this option is also quite subtle so it isn’t obvious enough to take away from the overall vintage feel of your design. 

As you can see, you can really let your creativity run wild if you want to include a vintage theme in your graphic designs. With all of these tips, you will know just how to make it work for you. So, use them to construct something that is sure to appeal to audiences everywhere. 

Author Bio

Sarah Wells has been a graphic artist and photographer for over a decade. During this time, she has worked to merge her two passions together to create artwork that ties into the past as well as the future. She is constantly finding new and exciting techniques to make it happen. 

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