Celebration Of Vintage and Retro Design

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Retro and vintage designs are often considered as being outdated, looking old, unattractive and dull. That’s not true. Although compared to modern design, retro is mostly a completely different realm, it has a large variety of benefits modern graphic designers often tend to overlook. And that’s a pity. Because we, as designers, can learn a lot from it.

Nostalgic designs arise feelings, awake memories and better manage to involve broad range of readers even although they don’t really realize it. Furthermore, retro can look cool and offer readers or visitors something they haven’t expected at all. So why not try to impress them with some impressive vintage art for a change?

Below you’ll find the celebration of retro and vintage design — ads, illustrations, book covers, pins and posters from 1920-1980s. The images weren’t necessarily created in the mid of 20th century. Vintage is living today which is why this post also features artists and designers who make use of the vintage and retro style in their works.

Please notice: if after reading this post you’ll experience some need for buying ice cream, chewing gum or eating sausages, it’s not our fault.

Retro Cosmic

Retro Cosmic
Designs by James White.

Vintage and Retro - Retro Cosmic

Vintage and Retro - Retro Cosmic

Vintage and Retro - Cerriteno's Blog

Robot Rock!
Daft Punk’s recent cover is stylish and cool: retro is in.

Vintage and Retro - Robot Rock!

Yopta project
Evgeniy Kiselev’s design project.

Vintage and Retro - Yopta project

Andy Gilmore
Playful colors in the retro-look.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Vintage and Retro - Andy Gilmore:

Packaging and Advertisement

Ice Cream Man
A contemporary illustration.

Vintage and Retro - Ice Cream Man

Fortunello Advertisement
This one is so effective! We’ve bought us an ice-cream immediately after we’ve seen this ad.

Vintage and Retro - FORTUNELLO

Knitting and spool kit

Vintage and Retro - knitting and spool kit

Hudson – Circus C
Page from “Circus Alphabet”, a Whitman Tell-A-Tale Book, 1954. Illustrated by Patric Hudson.

Vintage and Retro - Hudson - Circus C

Boys and Girls
Betty Crocker’s New Boys and Girls Cook Book, 1965.

Vintage and Retro - Boys and Girls

Jantzen Swimsuits
Designed by Pete Hawley, 1949.

Vintage and Retro - Antzen swimsuits

Petri Wine
Everything tastes better with Petri Wine. Designed by Nick Carter in 1949.

Vintage and Retro - Petri Wine

Say their names!
The Thinking Book by Adelaide Hall, pictures by Dagmar Wilson, 1963 (1970 ed.).

Vintage and Retro - Say their names.

Remarkable!
A mid-century ad print.

Vintage and Retro - remarkable.jpg

Kiss of perfection
‘Teen Oct. 1961.

Vintage and Retro - Kiss of perfection

Soviet Champagne Ad
Simple and beautiful.

Vintage and Retro - Champagne!

25 Project
“Southern California has this stupid “Click It, Or Ticket” slogan for fastening your safety belt. But they also just have the boring silhouette “Fasten Your Safety Belt” signs around, these would be much cuter!”

Vintage and Retro - 25 Project

Licor del Polo
A Spanish advertisement of the Licor del Polo, 1960.

Vintage and Retro - Licor del Polo (1960)

Wrigley’s Spearmint gum ad
Wrigley’s Spearmint gum ad from Real America Magazine April 1935.

Vintage and Retro - Wrigleys---Real-America-04-35

Magazine Ad – Scout (USA)
1961 Magazine Advertisement. “Meet the Scout: a whole new idea in low-cost transportation”. International Harvester Company.

Vintage and Retro - 1960's Advertising - Magazine Ad - Scout (USA)

Car ad
1948 Oldsmobile Series “60″ Convertible Coupe.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Skin creme ad
Do you actually believe that this ad is from 1970s? TV Radio Mirror, July 1972.

Vintage and Retro - They couldn't say it if it wasn't true, right?

Space Art
Bohn Aluminum & Brass, 1947.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Colossal Cocktails
“Back of an old matchbook purchased on eBay, of course. Would make a great party invite.”

Vintage and Retro - Colossal Graphics

Diabolical Appliance Mavens
“Life magazine”, March 9th, 1953.

Vintage and Retro - diabolical appliance mavens

Calendar Hotpoint December
1953 advertising calendar for Hotpoint Appliances, featuring “All Electric” kitchens – December.

Vintage and Retro - CAL_Hotpoint_Dec

1957 Secret Squadron Official Manual – cover
From the “1957 Secret Squadron Official Manual and Code Book” — a promotional item from Ovaltine, sponsors of the Captain Midnight TV series. The Captain’s airplane was called the “Silver Dart.”

Vintage and Retro - 1957 Secret Squadron Official Manual - cover

Flight through instruments
Telstar Logistics: “Flight thru Instruments” and the Fine Art of Instructional Illustration.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Traffic of the Future
Retro-futurism.

Vintage and Retro - Traffic of the Future

Vintage and Retro - retro-0Futurismus: Klaus Bürgle - Weltraumfahrt I

1960′s Advertising – Packaging – Superga (Italy)
1969 Packaging. “Superga”, Advertising Office: Unimark International. Torino, Italy

Vintage and Retro - 1960's Advertising - Packaging - Superga (Italy).jpg

Vote! poster

Vintage and Retro - Obey Giant - WORLDWIDE PROPAGANDA DELIVERY

I Wake Up Screaming
Classic. How many books with such covers have you read in your life? Book cover from 1941.

Vintage and Retro - I Wake Up Screaming 1941

Vintage Pins and Vintage Buttons

Birthday Surprise!

Vintage and Retro - Birthday Surprise!

Brooch Cluster-Retro Blue Dots On Brown

Vintage and Retro - Brooch Cluster-Retro Blue Dots On Brown

Kawaii Buttons

Vintage and Retro - - Kawaii Buttons -

Vintage 4-H buttons

Vintage and Retro - vintage 4-H buttons

Beatles fans

Vintage and Retro - fan

Button Sets

Vintage and Retro - buttonset01a

Vintage and Retro - buttonset02

Crafting 365, day 173 – pink teacups

Vintage and Retro - Crafting 365, day 173 - pink teacups

Posters and Typography

1960′s Advertising – Magazine Ad – Film special (Italy)
1969 Magazine Advertisement. “Film Special: bimestrale sui problemi della comunicazione audiovisia”. Advertising Office: Studio S & F Cappellato. Milano, Italy

Vintage and Retro - 1960's Advertising - Magazine Ad - Film special (Italy)

Scott Hansen
Scott Hansen’s work is extremely powerful. These poster impress with the effective use of colors and geometric forms.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Vintage and Retro - ISO50

Vintage and Retro - ISO50

Vintage and Retro - ISO50 - The Visual Work of Scott Hansen

Tipógrafia
A poster with a nice pattern. Simple and effective.

Vintage and Retro - Tipógrafia

TV Ad
A retro-poster from 70s.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Ulrich Schnauss Poster
A poster for the Electronica concert of Ulrich Schnauss.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Retro DVD Booklet
A clean DVD-booklet in a retro-look.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

For The Love Of Letters Poster
Nick Sherman with an interesting use of letters.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Graphis Annual – 1965/66
“Ad for a printers by Karl Gerstner. This series of ads changed over the years it was used by simply changing the colour of each plate and the order in which they overprinted. “

Vintage and Retro - Graphis Annual - 1965/66

Graphis Diagrams 1974
Graphics Design from the 70s.

Vintage and Retro - Graphis Diagrams –– 1974

Archigraphia
Olympic Pictogram designed by Otl Aicher in 70s.

Vintage and Retro - Archigraphia

Thirty years of design at MIT
A classic by Jacqueline S Casey.

Vintage and Retro - Posters. Thirty years of design at MIT - Jacqueline S Casey

Vintage Logos Collection
Collection of vintage logos from a mid-70′s edition of the book World of Logotypes.

Vintage and Retro - D-14

B&W
Outstanding typographics posters from 1969.

Vintage and Retro - ISO50 - The Visual Work of Scott Hansen

Five British Graphic Designers
A timeless poster created in 1969. “Five British Graphic Designers”, by Studio Coppola from Milano, Italy.

Vintage and Retro - ISO50 - The Visual Work of Scott Hansen

Say yes! to analog design
Yes studio hooked up a sweet 12″ cover for the UK band the stand. The album is from 2005.

Vintage and Retro - grain edit · Say yes! to analog design

são paulo – braSil
São paulo, Brazil, by Murilo Parra Contro.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

97. Book Cover
A book cover with an interesting use of geometric forms.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Beethoven Poster
A minimalistic poster from 1955.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Burundi 57
Beautiful old-stylish typographic poster.

Vintage and Retro - StatAttak

Last Click

DVNO Music Video
Retro in action.

Retro Toy Packaging
Packaging design goes vintage.

Vintage and Retro - Retro Toy Packaging

A Retro Bus
Buses can also smile. Cutie!

Vintage and Retro - A Retro Bus

knick knacks
How sweet is that? Sculptures from the last century.

Vintage and Retro - knick knacks

Sausage!
OK, now it’s time for a coffee break.

Vintage and Retro - FFFFOUND!

Sources and Resources

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops and loves solving complex problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    ohh my God !! Isnt that stunning !

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  2. 3

    On the ball yet again!
    Keep up the goodness….

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  3. 4

    Wow. Amazing post. Thanks!

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  4. 5

    Livingston Samuel

    April 21, 2008 2:47 am

    Wonderful Collection!!

    great inspiration, I’m planning to study them and learn from the old techniques, so that I can improve myself :)

    thanks a lot! keep the working going.

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  5. 6
  6. 7

    Sausages look nicer when they’re Vintage.

    Nice list, everything looks beautiful. Its a great style.

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  7. 8

    Love the dog one :) All very inspiring stuff though.

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  8. 9

    This subject is fantastic!!! Special to note that while today we all have computers and make design easy, all what is show above is hand made, brushed or airbrushed, foils precisely cut… Must say that all above presented design is still very strong and in some way fresh!

    Thank your placing this topic :)

    Srecko Bradic

    http://www.sreckobradic.com

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  9. 10

    Thanks for the Monday inspiration! :)

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  10. 11

    This is an amazing collection — snapshots in time — what’s old is new…

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  11. 12

    Mithun P Sreedharan

    April 21, 2008 4:24 am

    Awesome !!

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  12. 13

    It’s great! Suuupeerr!

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  13. 14

    I love Jen Segrest’s free retro desktop pics and patterns at

    http://www.pixeldecor.com/

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  14. 15

    yet another inspiring post to get my creative juices flowing :) i love you guys!

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  15. 16

    I find tons of inspiration by going to antique malls as much as possible. I created several photography projects similar to the knick knacks image above.

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  16. 17

    before computers(photoshop filters), designers *actually had to have design/illustration skills*

    that’s why i have much respect for retro arts. love this post.

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  17. 18

    I find tons of inspiration by going to antique malls. As a result I have created several photography projects similar to the knick knacks image above.

    Malls have tons of old posters, toys, photographs, clothing, and other really great stuff to get the creative juices flowing.

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  18. 19

    Hello
    Take à look at yeaaah-studio.com/

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  19. 20

    my godness…. superb!

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  20. 21

    I love retro-modern design. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  21. 22

    Fun!

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  22. 23

    It’s absolutely great! I love this list :) Cheers

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  23. 24

    I have no words to describe the growing passion that I have for your website !
    Thanx for these visuals !

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  24. 25

    Anybody watch the DNVO video and see the resemblance to the HBO opening sequence? Wonder which came first.

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  25. 26

    That’s a great resource list you guys have put together. That DVNO music video was absolutely amazing.

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  26. 27

    amazing! great retro style, love it! :)

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  27. 28

    That would be Jantzen swimsuits. (Portland, OR)

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  28. 29

    Beautiful … I love retro design and I love that it is making a loop back and influencing some of the more modern stuff we are all working on. Great list.

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  29. 30

    Fantastic! Marvelous!
    I’m so happy I found this site.

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  30. 31

    awesome memories! i surely had a flashback in design-history :) thx for that……

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  31. 32

    This is a great post. I’m so much into retro design right now and you’ve featured my 2 favourite artists by far: Scott Hansen and James White. There is one missing though: Daniele de Nigris. I’ve done a small article on him. Read it at http://www.fudgegraphics.com
    Keep ip the great work!

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  32. 33

    This is great! If you dig all this stuff, check out this site i found a while back that has stock photography from the 60′s, so cool!

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  33. 34

    i knew with a few “page down” clicks i was to find scott hansen (iso50) stuff :)

    Great vintage collection! Long live avant garde!

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  34. 35

    You should really include some of the art from Bioshock. That’s retro to the extreme. Good stuff.

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  35. 36

    Loved this entry! So inspiring. This site just keeps getting better and better!!

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  36. 37

    Fantastic Work and Research….what is old is new again!!!

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  37. 38

    you have to check out modernmechanix. incredible collection!

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  38. 39

    that last picture, the sausage…….*drool*

    on diet……. have to……… resist…..

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  39. 40

    Speaking of making your life easier, really: do not forget that Mothers’ Day is coming up! This year, forget the flowers, can the candy, and buy your cat-loving Mom something she’ll REALLY appreciate… her own copy of my hilarious book, The World Is Your Litter Box! It’s classy, it’s unique… and at a mere $9.95 in the U.S. ($10.95 in Canada), it’s WAY less expensive than flowers or candy! If you pre-order the book now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or one of the other on-line booksellers, they’ll ship it on its release date (May 6th) and it should arrive just in time to make this Mother’s Day a true delight.

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  40. 41

    I need to cry …..
    : )

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  41. 42

    Smashing!

    I’ve not have the chance to lay eyes on retro designs like these because i always thought they were old and outdated. Now I see what i’ve been missing!

    Great collection, great post.
    Keep it up!

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  42. 43

    Smashing Retro!!

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  43. 44

    I love retro.

    And it stands out, especially now that ‘Web 2.0′ has made everything shiny, glossy, and 3D.

    Imagine how eye-catching a retro-style ad would be in a current magazine. If you’re advertising a product as being a ‘good old-fashioned’ something, this would be the perfect style to use.

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  44. 45

    Great Collection!….. Kepp it up!

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  45. 46

    It should be ‘I’m AN official Beatles fan.

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  46. 47

    awesome is just not the word!!! I bet there has to be a word better than that to describe what i have just seen!!!

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  47. 48

    Omg this is great stuff :)

    Keep it up!

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  48. 49

    If you liked this dose of retro check out Gene Gable on Creative Pro’s site. He has been digging up retro designs for years, scanning napkins, matchboxes, airline graphics. It is lovely joyful stuff. Check out http://creativepro.com/articles/author/127525 and go right back to the beginning of the archive.

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  49. 50

    i was inspired by the Beethoven example and I made an programatic animated version in flash. If anybody’s interested, I posted it here and it has the source code

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  50. 51

    Fantastic inspiration/collection, once again!
    It’s a bit scary to think of how boring my morning coffee used to be, before Smashing! Please keep it up!

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  51. 52

    it’s amazing!…

    today the world is so dark and gray…

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  52. 53

    some of the ads presented at the end has also been featured in a documentary film about Typography, ‘Helvetica’

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  53. 54

    awesome!!! thanks for this!

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  54. 55

    I’ve had that betty crocker cookbook for kids since I was a kid! I’m saving it for my daughter. Snickerdoodles, yum!

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  55. 56

    English. Do you speak it?

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  56. 57

    Does anyone happen to have the main typeface used in the Electrolux ad? Specifically the line saying, “the cleaner you never have to empty!” ?

    Have been looking at a lot of vintage stuff lately, even things as far back as 1940′s and such.

    I’m not very good at type design so really good typefaces I can find (whether free or bought) is always good.

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  57. 58

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    April 22, 2008 10:08 am

    @BillyK: could you please point us to mistakes instead of shouting loudly without any concrete examples?

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  58. 59

    For some really great examples, and a funny look at them you have to check out James Lileks. http://www.lileks.com/

    and spend hours… nah… DAYS laughing your a** off at the Institute of Official Cheer (link on right gutter)

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  59. 60

    Amazing. the new, becomes the old, becomes the new. I’m a big fan of Hansen’s work, and is definately someone who has embraced respect for vintage and the possibilities of modern software to produce something entirely his own.

    Colombia says hello.

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  60. 61

    I love the way old designs, vintage designs, have a playful quality that contemporary designs seem to replace with cynicism.
    http://gentrystyle.com

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  61. 62

    yet another inspiring post to get my creative juices flowing :) i love you guys!
    visit: http://www.mag-corp.com

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  62. 63
  63. 64

    “Smashing” job on this post : ) Very informative, eye catching and fun. Love it!

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  64. 65

    Awesome. I liked it.

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  65. 66

    wow great stuff

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  66. 67

    Veeery nice post.. thank’s

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  67. 68

    I was thinking the exact same thing.

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  68. 69

    Nice collection. I’m especially fond of “Retro Cosmic” and “Yopta project”.

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  69. 70

    Gene Gable writes a weekly column on retro stuff he’s collected and scanned:

    http://www.creativepro.com/articles/author/127525

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  70. 71

    Joyent has this nouveau vintage look….

    http://joyent.com

    Thanks for the post!

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  71. 72

    Wonderful article!
    We got inspired from vintage publicity illustration, designs and fonts for our Intuitive Designs web site. I talked about it with some inspirational publicity samples in my blog: Working With Good Fonts.

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  72. 73

    Citrus Tree Designs

    April 27, 2008 10:10 am

    I LOVE THAT VIDEO…

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  73. 74

    Great Article!
    I am highly inspired…
    http://www.digital-artist.de.vu

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  74. 75

    Dennison Uy - Graphic Designer

    May 1, 2008 3:20 am

    Awesome list. Could use more retro examples though!

    Dennison Uy – Graphic Designer

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  75. 76

    Hey! The swimsuit ad is from “Jantzen Swimsuits, Designed by Pete Hawley, 1949.” not “Antzen”. They’re still in business.

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  76. 77

    “Vote” poster is pseudo-retro.

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  77. 78
  78. 79

    Jesus, this list is bloody amazing! I’m quite obsessed with vintage and retro looking design, I think it’s the nostalgia factor.

    Scott Hansen happens to be one of my favorite designers. He also makes fantastic music; I’m rather jealous of all his skills.

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  79. 80

    i love retro desing and chaz

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  80. 81

    Amazing. And not only that, I owned the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls; retro even in 1978. I felt like I just opened up a box from my childhood.

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  81. 82

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  82. 83

    Visit for more details

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  83. 84

    i somehow knew daft punk would be somewhere on here because they are amazing and retro at the same time…and justice video was a nice addition also…great topic…very inspiring

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  84. 85

    These designs are totally photoshopped! Look at the pixelation!

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  85. 86

    Great, it brings back the memories. How was advertising naive and yet so wise in industry product!!! Love the retro!!!

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  86. 87

    I would like to add the beginning of Evanescence’s video – Everybody’s Fool – it’s so cool retro style and just so on the right place!

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  87. 88

    Hi, i am jony. I live in Bangladesh. I read in Shanto-Mariam University. My e-mail address is http://www.jony_smuct@yahoo.com This Picture is so nice.I like all the Picture.

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  88. 89

    Awesome Collection. Cool retro stuff here also

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  89. 90

    Wow!!!
    Incredible…
    I didn´t blink at all!!!

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  90. 91

    Caylin Groenewald

    February 4, 2009 12:24 pm

    wow, great collection. Thanx for the inspiration.

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  91. 92

    thanks a lot for the info!! it helped me in my research paper about vintage art!! thanks!!

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  92. 93

    it´ll be sweet to see some artwork from the olympic games celebrated in Mexico 86′…
    beautiful compilation!!!!!

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  93. 94

    WOW! that’s great work. I’ve got very much to learn.

    thanks

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  94. 95

    I7edto comment5 ,

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  95. 96

    my god this is inspiring!

    I’m thinking of setting up a vintage illustration blog to complement my contemporary illustration blog,

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  96. 97

    O! that’s great work. We outsource 2D/3D Animations, 3D Modeling, 3D walkthrough, Multimedia.

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  97. 98

    WOW! beautiful post….. i love it…. it’s a great inspiration….thx.

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  98. 99

    Beautiful! LOVE LOVE LOVE these designs!

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  99. 100

    Love it..

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  100. 101

    was wonderfully

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  101. 102

    WOW love them, thanks for sharing

    2
  102. 103

    Takes me right back to the sixties and art school.
    Wonderful – I’ve put it on my favourites.

    1
  103. 104

    Hi

    For some rare/vintage cinema poster design check http://www.culturacine.com

    Hope you like it.

    cheers

    rafa

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  104. 105

    Wow, wonderful collection

    1
  105. 106

    Awesome… really awesome

    1
  106. 107

    me likey!

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  107. 108

    this is awesome, thanks!

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  108. 109

    Sandha Danielle

    June 29, 2011 6:59 am

    nice..kiss from Malaysia..

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  109. 110

    this post very groovy!!!!!!

    1
  110. 111

    Simply brilliant post!!!!

    1
  111. 112

    hi thanks for this post.my name is maryam i m iranian.i want to know oabot retro design but in iran i cant find book about that.who can help me?please?sorry i cant speak english very well.please help me.thanks

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    • 113

      I have no idea where you can find anything in Iran, but if I were you, I would keep looking at retro design and imitating the ideas. There are a lot of online tutorials, as well. Hope this helps!

      0
  112. 114

    I wonder what you all would think of my vintage inspired graphic design work. deathraydesign.net or facebook.com/deathray.design.

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