Retro Design Trends

Retro Design Trends: Rewind to the 60s and 70s Graphic Design

When looking at the graphic design industry, you can observe the shift in design trends over the years. However, one thing has remained constant: the love for nostalgia. Even in 2024, people still enjoy reminiscing about a time when the retro graphic design trend dominated the design space.

While perceived through a modern lens, artists, companies, and audiences are embracing the retro graphic design style with open arms. Even the world’s biggest brands, such as Nike, Pepsi, and even the fashion powerhouse Gucci, have integrated retro designs into their marketing, packaging, and advertising campaigns. Needless to say, the retro design theme will unquestionably top the modern graphic design trends in 2024.

In this article, we will discuss

  • What is a retro graphic design
  • The ’60s and 70’s digital artwork
  • Rewinding 80s design aesthetics
  • Incorporating retro design elements into your branding
      KEY POINTS

  • Retro design is an artistic style inspired by the past, particularly from the 50s to the 80s, invoking nostalgic feelings among the audience.
  • This style of design creates a distinctive aesthetic appeal, setting it apart from modern minimalistic designs.
  • Retro designs are perceived as vintage from people’s perspective, connecting them to specific periods in the evolution of design styles.

 

The years from the 50s to the 90s, especially with the surge of modernism, were experimental in the art world. It’s easy to borrow the visual elements represented in those eras and incorporate them to exemplify today’s designs. But as a business, are you confused about how to include them in your marketing?

Well, here, I have delved into retro trends of the past and included everything you want to check out. Read the article to learn more.

What is the Retro Design Trend?

Retro Design Trend

As you all know, retro design, also known as vintage design, refers to imitating elements, styles, and motifs from the past into current design ideas.

The retro style utilizes forgotten trends and characteristics used by older designers, showcasing an updated version of them. The primary focus here is to evoke a sense of nostalgia in the viewers, eliciting an emotional appeal to the particular design artwork.

The authenticity of vintage designs can intrigue viewers to learn more about the lifestyles, elements, and art forms of that time:

Music
Fashion
Graphic Design
Movies
Books

The main reason retro designs influence the audience is their powerful appeal to emotions linked to fond memories and collective experiences from that time.

Nostalgia has a unique approach to connecting people across different generations. While Gen Z kids may have no clue about old-school 70s art trends, today’s retro design emerged in the late 1950s and brings together both Gen Z and Millennials to embrace the retro theme.

Let’s look at the most influential time periods of retro themes

The 60s

60s Decade's Style

The 60s is known as the modern decade that experimented with bright colors, LSD-inspired psychedelia, and fluid patterns. This time is seen as a turning point for graphic design. Visual communication took a very different approach from the earthy tones that dominated the 50s, transitioning to vivid neons. Here are the 1960s trends that are making a comeback.

1. Pop Art

Pop Art

Thanks to Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, pop art is back in 2024. This style uniquely emphasizes clichéd symbols of popular culture with modern elements like circles, pops of color, irony, and vision. It was regularly seen in fashion magazines and comic books to fine art.

Now, you can find and use pop art.

This retro vibe design is seen popping up everywhere, from interior and graphic design to social media and pop culture.

2. Bright Colors

Bright Colors

The 60s brought the idea of using vivid colors in artwork. The artists ditched muted earthly palettes and started integrating bright colors as a sign of rebellion. The use of color was a sign to break free from the old traditions and create a whole new style.

The colors include neon pink, blue, and oranges, which we can see utilized in today’s design and fashion world.

3. Optical Illusion

Optical Illusion

The term “optical art” was coined by Time magazine in 1964 to describe a form of abstract art that created flowing illusions using positive and negative space. This then rapidly became an ongoing trend to utilize kaleidoscopic patterns trend in every design idea.

The sense of movement in art forms was embraced by twisting a mirrored tube and bringing out a new perspective for the viewer’s focus on the art. Optical art played a great role in creating illusions. The artwork is popular today in motion and video design.

4. Psychedelic Design

Psychedelic Design

The psychedelic movement brought a whole new inspiration to artwork. The 60s, heavily influenced by mind-altering hallucinogenic drugs, became popular and emerged as the “psychedelic style,” soon seen spanning movies, art, fashion, and music.

The artwork is inspired by the psychedelic movement filled with fluid shapes, hand-drawn typography, vibrant neon colors, and dream-like themes with no negative space. This is often observed in new album covers and other music videos.

5. 60s Music

60s Music

Well, we can’t leave music out of any artwork, can we? In the early ’60s, rock and roll was gradually overtaken by psychedelic rock, folk rock, and pop.

This is mainly observed in today’s modern aesthetics, especially in music.

The 70s

70s Things Retro

Let’s be honest: the 1960s were influenced by psychedelics, and this groovy decade became even more distinct as it transitioned into the iconic 70s, focusing on disco, funk, and bell bottoms.

Design-wise, the style of this decade was centered on thick lines, flowery patterns, and curvy typography. To replicate the groovy vibe, here are some iconic 70s retro styles this year.

1. Bold Colors and Simple Shapes

Bold Colors and Simple Shapes

In contrast to the ’60s psychedelics, the 70s showcased simple and flat shapes, often arranged into recurring patterns and used in background art deco or home decor.

This abstract design trend will be back as an important style technique used by designers for magazines and in plenty of marketing, packaging, and inspired designs.

2. Retro Typography

Retro Typography

Freeform typography is the emergence of irregular and varied flowy freeform swashes with curly ends and curved edges, utilizing Visual Graphics PhotoTypositor typesetting techniques. The hand-drawn letters are bubble-like in shape with neon sign-inspired linework,, suitable for branding, logo design, and other marketing pieces.

3. Hippie Patterns and Motifs

Hippie Patterns and Motifs

The 1970s were filled with many cultural shifts and movements influenced by graphic design. People expressed themselves freely through fashion, music, and art. Hippie and disco were just a couple of ’70s trends that had a major impact on the visual world.

The hippie patterns, motifs, and themes of the decade like flowers, peace signs, and paisley patterns—are definitely back!

The 80s

80s Rewind

The 1980s were full of crazy hairstyles, Lycra leggings, wild patterns, and vibrant colors—a truly eye-catching era. This decade was largely defined by modern technology, along with futuristic fonts, an explosion of pop culture, and angular patterns.

Pop culture had a massive influence on 80s design trends, especially the Sci-Fi genre, which was more popular. The style includes chunky text effects and cosmic gradients and fonts.

1. 80s Tropical

80s Tropical

During the 80s, another trend was being tropical. Think about the serene palm trees, neon, crazy patterns, and pastel sunsets—it was all in full swing. These 80s tropical design representations were widely seen in film posters, album covers, and home decor.

People loved expressing themselves through vivid colors, extraordinary florals, and angular shapes and embraced the vibrant tropical style.

2. Memphis Style

Memphis Style

Another thing that gained attention was the Memphis style. Named after the creators of the Memphis group in Milan, it is said to be the pinnacle of 80s design aesthetics. The Memphis style is said to be a technique combined with retro-like elements of tropical, pop art, and deco, transcending modernism by using geometric shapes, linework, funky color palettes, and asymmetry.

From album covers to video games, web designs, and art pieces, you can see cultural trends that were inspired by retro designs. It was defined by color combinations so random that it has taken full swing with a huge comeback in the current world.

Why Retro Graphic Design Matters?

Retro Graphic Design Matters

Would you be interested if I told you I had a time machine to let you travel back in time? Well, as of today, it’s not possible. But you can live as if it’s vintage when seeing such visuals.  Here are the four ways in which retro design matters.

Timeless Appeal

Trends come and go, but vintage graphics have proven to be more effective in staying. The style can be consistently utilized by various industries over the years.

Distinctive Identity

If you’ve used retro design in your work, the identity that it brings is uniquely refreshing and excellent. This helps you stand out from your competitors.

Niche Markets

There are many products and services in the market that cater to niche audiences with a preference for retro aesthetics. Incorporating a vintage feel can help you boost your business.

Versatility

This iconic design style is versatile and can be adapted to any given theme and mood, making it a great asset in a designer’s skill set.

Conclusion

Within the ever-evolving industry, retro design is a timeless trend that continues to come back. The way it holds the emotions of people, allowing them to have a connection with the design, is pure nostalgia. As a new business, this is your sign to start utilizing the retro design trend today. Even though we tend to see various design trends popping up day by day, the influence of vintage designs on the mass audience is unpredictable.

Retro and vintage continue to capture hearts, and it’s a valuable skill for graphic designers. So, by blending the charm of the past with the innovative techniques of modern times, designers and brands can create striking visuals that resonate with audiences of all ages. Why wait? Go and integrate more 60s, 70s, or 80s influences into your designs Now!

FAQ

1. Is retro design a trend?

Over the past few years, there has been a notable resurgence in the revival of vintage classic styles in design techniques. This trend has evoked a sense of nostalgic feeling among people of all ages, allowing them to relive experiences from the past. Whether it’s in movies, TV shows, comics, magazines, or vintage-inspired fashion ramp walks, the utilization of retro techniques is making a strong comeback, aiming to evoke diverse emotions among the audience.

2. What era is a retro style?

The retro era is predominantly associated with the mid-century period, spanning from the 1950s to the 1980s. Throughout this timeframe, a significant shift in cultural trends became evident as people grappled with emerging technological ideas and were profoundly influenced by modernism. Retro influences various aspects, such as fashion, design, music, and even literature. Over the years, this distinctive style has served as a profound source of inspiration for designers, leaving a lasting impact on the design industry.

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