11 Contemporary Design Projects with Vintage Graphic Style

In his recent analysis of last year’s Regional Design Annual winners, Steven Heller pointed out recurring themes among the honorees’ designs. That’s not to say the winners’ works were repetitive in any sense. Indeed:

“This year’s RDA is one of the most ‘original’ in the competition’s history,” Heller wrote. “Either the jury did a great job of preselection or designers are truly less derivative these days. Very few pieces are stylistic clichés, and although many share similar characteristics, individuality reigns across all the regions, which is as much a testament to contemporary designers as to my fine-tuned analytical procedure.”

However, Heller noted a large volume of works that exhibited “vernacular” tropes—that is, “Designs that use pastiche or similarities to vintage established styles from the Victorian, Modern or Midcentury Modern periods.”

Drawing from the past for inspiration is never a problem. Indeed, exploring and building upon vintage design helps aesthetics evolve as new styles stem from their predecessors.

Here are a few winning projects from the past year that draw upon vintage design styles for inspiration—while also adding a fresh, contemporary flair.

Vintage Design Styles in Award-Winning Graphic Art:

Creativity is a Job

Risograph on timecard

RDA-vintage-designRDA-vintage-design2Facebook Analog Research Lab, Menlo Park, CA; www.facebook.com/analoglab
Tim Belonax (creative director/art director/ designer)
Jeffery Cross (photographer)
Facebook (client)



Goode Company Seafood

branding & identity design
Goode Company Seafood // Principle, Houston; www.designbyprinciple.com: Allyson Lack (creative director/art director), Nadia Usmani, Rachel Rothberg (designers), Mike Guillory (illustrator), Erin O’Connor (writer); Goode Company Restaurants (client)Goode Company Seafood // Principle, Houston; www.designbyprinciple.com: Allyson Lack (creative director/art director), Nadia Usmani, Rachel Rothberg (designers), Mike Guillory (illustrator), Erin O’Connor (writer); Goode Company Restaurants (client)

Principle, Houston;  www.designbyprinciple.com
Allyson Lack (creative director/art director), Nadia Usmani, Rachel Rothberg (designers), Mike Guillory (illustrator), Erin O’Connor (writer)
Goode Company Restaurants (client)


Not-So-Fun-House Impaired Driving Campaign

Not-So-Fun-House Impaired Driving Campaign // Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing, Austin, TX; www.sherry matthews.com: Gretchen Hicks (creative director/art director), Melissa Gorton, Tom Grodek (designers); Texas Department of Transportation (client)

Not-So-Fun-House Impaired Driving Campaign // Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing, Austin, TX; www.sherry matthews.com: Gretchen Hicks (creative director/art director), Melissa Gorton, Tom Grodek (designers); Texas Department of Transportation (client)

Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing, Austin, TX; www.sherrymatthews.com
Gretchen Hicks (creative director/art director), Melissa Gorton, Tom Grodek (designers)
Texas Department of Transportation (client)


Grady Mac Denim Hangtag

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.24.48 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.24.56 PM

HOOK, Charleston, SC; www.hookusa.com
Brady Waggoner (creative director), Trish Ward (art director/designer), Sully Sullivan (photographer), Tom Jeffrey (writer)
Grady Mac Denim (client)


 Small Batch Branding Materials

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.30.13 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.30.03 PM

TOKY, St. Louis; www.toky.com
Eric Thoelke (creative director/art director), Travis Brown (designer)
Baileys’ Restaurants (client)


Sunset Boulevard Poster

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.31.40 PM

Commercial Artisan, Indianapolis; www.commercialartisan.com
James Sholly (creative director/designer), Jon Sholly (art director)
Indy Film Fest (client)



Central Provisions

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.33.38 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.33.31 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.33.26 PM
Might & Main, Portland, ME; www.might-main.com
Arielle Walrath (creative director/art director/designer), Sean Wilkinson (creative director/art director), Morgan DiPietro (art director/designer)
Central Provisions (client)


Sawkill Lumber

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.36.44 PM

Spur Design, Baltimore; www.spurdesign.com
David Plunkert (creative director/art director/designer/illustrator)
Sawkill Lumber Co. (client)


The Lost Blend

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.40.34 PM

Stranger & Stranger; www.strangerandstranger.com
Stranger & Stranger (creative direction/art direction/design)
Compass Box Whisky (client)


The Bacon Brothers CD 36¢

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.40.20 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.40.28 PM The Visual Strategist; www.thevisualstrategist.com
Gail Marowitz (creative director/designer), The Visual Strategist (art direction), Ed Sherman (designer/illustrator), Stefan Malzkorn (photographer)
The Bacon Brothers (client)

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