Whether it’s a sign telling us to ‘mind the gap’, a newspaper headline or a brand strapline, we are constantly surrounded by typography. It is literally everywhere we turn, operating as a kind of silent narrator and guide to our purchase decisions and brand empathies. Graphic design, editorial, packaging and advertising all rely on the subliminal power of a font to inspire, motivate and communicate with its target audience – often without their target audience even realising there is anything at work behind the words themselves.
And typographic treatment is not a new creative tool, far from it. In this article we go back to the roots of vintage typography and take a look at the way in which retro styles still inspire modern work – and see exactly why old-school typefaces have stood the test of time.
Originally created back in 1904, the logo typeface for the classic car brand Cadillac shows just how enigmatic old-school typography can be. Conjuring up visions of rolling plains, Route 66 and milkshakes without the need for a single image, this piece of authentic Americana remains unchanged today for obvious reasons.
Like Madmen’s Joan Holloway, this classic example of early 1960s typography effectively communicates the retro glamour of the era. The fact it appears on the lid of a tin of typewriter ribbon is quite simply the icing on the cake.
Classic, timeless and still seen on advertising campaigns and branding across the globe today; the Jack Daniels typeface displays vintage typography at its best. Used to communicate the prestige and heritage of the brand, this powerful font would still be associated with the rock star’s bourbon of choice even if it wasn’t being used to spell out those two famous names.
This gig poster uses retro typography to promote a contemporary band, and displays just how up to date and clean vintage typography can be when applied to a modern concept. Far from making the band appear to be a throwback or pastiche, the simple and iconic design technique is the last word in 21st century cool.
Good enough to eat and elegantly timeless, Eicholtz Delicatessen uses this classically European typeface to evoke the understated chic of Godard and Fellini – harking back to the decadence of Nouvelle Vague effortlessly.
Psychedelic and synonymous with 1960s acid trips, this vintage typography can still be used to add an element of hippy-chic cool to contemporary advertising concepts and is frequently used to bring a whimsical summer vibe to even the most corporate of campaigns.
Sexy and simple, the typeface Avant Garde was originally designed by Herb Lubalin in the 1960s. Frequently seen today to add an authoritative edge to editorial publications, it is refreshingly contemporary despite its 50-year heritage.
It seems a little strange to refer to a 1990s creation as retro, despite the fact Dead History was conceived almost 20 years ago. This hybrid typeface, created using Bell Centennial and VAG Rounded is one of the most influential and memorable fonts of the 1990s and is still in hugely popular usage today thanks to its deconstructed and post-modern edge.
Back to the 1960s with this Beatle’s inspired typographical treatment. By borrowing the Fab Four’s signature style, this stereo campaign is instantly imbued with their fun and youthful energy; a vintage typeface that can be used to add a quirky personality to almost any brand.
Inspired by the work of Josh ‘Shag’ Agle, this typeface uses hand cut lettering and neo-grotesque style sans serif to create an iconic Saul Bass treatment with immediate cool credentials.
Print designs like these onto flyers with flyer printing from Uprinting.
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