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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


www.facebook.com/analoglab Tim Belonax (creative director/art director/ designer) Jeffery Cross (photographer) Facebook (client)

Goode Company Seafood

branding & identity design


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

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

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

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

Sunset Boulevard Poster

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


Central Provisions


Sawkill Lumber

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

The Lost Blend

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

The Bacon Brothers CD 36¢


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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PRINT (founded 1940) is where creative people gather to inspire and build design dialogue. Perpetually curious about everything design, we report on, curate and celebrate visual culture, the makers of that culture and the expression of graphic design in all its forms and mediums.  

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