18 How Retro Design Characteristics Made a Great Resurgence in the 21st Century

    In the 21st century, the design community has seen resurgence in retro design styles. It happened with the vinyl record, succumbed to a variable transformation with bell bottoms, and is even seen as homage in recent films like Machete. It is almost certainly because of a desire to bring back something that was once hip to a generation of older “kids” who are still very much a huge part of current marketable demographics. But increasingly it’s looking like an effort to reinvent and reinvigorate the senses for new generations of designers and advertisers.

    Where have we seen the most evidence of this in the design world? The more relevant question is where haven’t we seen it? Flyers, billboards and business card printing have all been packed with throwbacks to a golden era of advertising. The squeaky clean imagery of nuclear families, the polka dots and straight-lined patterns of wallpaper and the breaking news bulletins that peppered the front pages of newspapers and blared from scratchy radios are all being retrofitted as emotional cues in the online and print advertising worlds.
    Do these characteristics appeal to us because they provide simplicity and sanity as a counter-act to our daily distress? People don’t merely shop at Old Navy because of the prices. It’s because their retro atmosphere just makes us feel good.



Designers are using various time periods to achieve font styles that can transport you directly to a specific venue in history. These ones remind us of a big top act like something out of Moulin Rouge or Big Fish:
Carnivalee Freakshow
Circus Ornate
Fusty Saddle
Others give you the feeling of Gatsby-era aristocracies, a classy tone if you are looking to attract high-priced clientele with your professional skills and services.
Even the elongated yet squat sans serif font of Bazar, Medium literally exudes a bare-bones appeal that is direct and not overly concerned with its presentation as it is the message. This makes it not only readable for people who come into contact with your company’s brochure printing or flyer, but allows you to organize and separate your information accordingly.
Bazar, Medium


Color is another showcase that serves as an instantly recognizable cue when used in the right setting. The former design of CSS Tinderbox (and even the current one) reflects a retroactive nature that, if nothing else than appeals to the baby boomers at least piques the interest of contemporary designers involved in the blogosphere and beyond.
Colors often reach extremes by either going with rainbow and neon colors, like those of, or toning it down with a much muted Technicolor presentation, as is the case with ISO50:

Web and Print


All of these elements have come to realization for a smattering of entrepreneurs and reinvented businesses in regards to web and print advertising such as landing pages and printed letterhead, business cards and postcards . Often there are moments when we see slightly elevated marquees running left to right smack dab in the middle of a custom circular logo:
Montana’s Tree & Lawn Service
Bert’s Records
More and more we’re finding entire web site designs resembling old radios, news broadcasts and even documentation that looks as if it was sent straight from the battlefield’s front lines:



If you’ve picked up a can of Mountain Dew or Pepsi lately, you’ll see that all they have really done is alter the print design and use “real cane sugar” as a means to sell more icy cold beverages. The tactic has proved to be incredibly successful for the soda giants:
Mountain Dew
The entire mantra of Progressive Auto Insurance for the past several months has been a return to the 1950s era of advertising using a bubbly personality as the pitchwoman.
Progressive Auto Insurance
Even certain films have gone completely retro in the cases of 2007’s Grindhouse and 2010’s Machete, the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez tips-of-the-cap to the gritty style of vintage themes in filmmaking. Each one puts the technology of the day on display by consciously yet inadvertently chopping and melting full sections of film strip. This is not even mentioning the grainy film stock, the sensationalistic colors and low-definition aesthetic of the scenery.
All of these pay respects to a style that is much older than most of us care to admit (after all, those who witnessed it firsthand are often reluctant to date themselves.) When updated for a new audience of business owners, entrepreneurs and designers, they can still have a profound effect on our
About The Author

This blog was created by ELO DESIGNER to share his wealth of knowledge and researches with other designers and design lovers, to give them guidance and inspiration. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated. Thank you. Follow my daily design links on Twitter or Add me on your social network.

If you enjoyed this post, please retweet or stumble to say thanks!


16 50 Must See TED Talks about Creativity and Design

If you’re looking for ideas about design or seeking a creative muse, TED talks can be a worthwhile watch to stir your curiosity.
From the latest web trends to the meaning of happiness, these 50 Talks are sure to arouse your creative fire.

01. John Maeda: How art, technology and design inform creative leaders

Old meets new as designers find balance among the possibilities of technology, the solutions of design, and the questions asked by art. Maeda explores these concepts with attention to how they can inform effective creative leadership.

02. Don Norman: 3 ways good design makes you happy

Design is about more than function.  It’s also about form – how it looks, how it feels, how it evokes an emotion. These concepts play on a subconscious level, changing the way people think about their experience.

03. Margaret Gould Stewart: How giant websites design for you (and a billion others, too)

Websites that interact with huge markets such as Google and Facebook provide their own unique challenges shaped by the sheer size of the end product.  Even the tiniest things matter, and emotional and intuitive responses are just as important as the science of manipulating data for a positive user experience.

04. Jinsop Lee: Design for all 5 senses

Design is more than visual presentation.  The best designs engage multiple sensations: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste, because that’s how we interact with the world at large.

05. David Carson: Design and discovery

Communication is about more than words on a page.  It is about context that brings about an emotional response even before the words are read.  To create that, we need to dig into our own intuition rather than simply thinking it through.

06. Stefan Sagmeister: Happiness by design

Happiness in design comes in two forms: that which brings happiness to the designer, and that which brings happiness to the user.  Bringing both together creates truly great design.

07. Paul Bennett: Design is in the details

Design is not always about the big picture.  Sometimes the most important elements are those that are so small they are often overlooked, yet can have big payoffs when addressed.

08. Philippe Starck: Design and destiny

A comedic look at the place of the designer in the “big picture” of society, reminding viewers that object design is not just about the object but about the ultimate result of that project.

09. John Maeda: My journey in design

A personal look into one man’s experience with creative development, in which he merges his mathematical and artistic talents with his love of creative design.

10. Timothy Prestero: Design for people, not awards

No matter how cool and interesting an idea might be, it doesn’t go far unless it addresses the myriad different potential scenarios of both use and purchasing.  Ask yourself this: who is going to be the buyer of your product?

11. Jacek Utko: Can design save newspapers?

The original purpose of the newspaper – providing news – has been usurped by the instantaneous reporting of the internet.  Newspapers need to find new ways of presenting themselves in order to survive, and one of those ways is design that create visual interest not unlike the websites with which they are competing.

12. Paola Antonelli: Design and the Elastic Mind

Elasticity of mind is our ability to accept and try new things, to step away from what is comfortable and embrace innovation.  Antonelli discusses the “Design and the Elastic Mind” exhibition and the Museum for Modern Art.

13. Paola Antonelli: Treat design as art

Antonelli talks about her appreciation of all forms of design, and how functional objects can still tell their own story.

14. Marian Bantjes: Intricate beauty by design

Graphic design is traditionally thought of as personally neutral, devoid of the individuality of the designer.  Bantjes, however, has made a successful career of expressing herself through this medium, injecting a personality that resonates with viewers.

16. Milton Glaser: Using design to make ideas new

What makes a convincing poster?  Designs need to not merely be good, but to be new, to grab the viewer’s attention because it has never been seen before.  Here, Glaser starts with old images and transforms them into something more modern.

17. Rochelle King: The complex relationship between data and design in UX

In web design, the data involved is both something to be managed and a source of information in the form of how viewers are currently using that data, which helps in the redesign process.

18. Matthew Carter: My life in typefaces

The connection between changing technologies and design is highlighted here by the creator of some of the world’s most famous fonts.  Fonts are adaptable, conveying meaning in their shape beyond the words they are used to form.

19. Sebastian Deterding: What your designs say about you

Designers bring the perspectives of society into their work, even things as nuanced as morality.  Products of the modern age reinforce social expectations even when that is not necessarily the primary purpose.

20. David Kelley: Human-centered design

Previously, design was primarily fixated on the product itself.  Today, the ultimate product is the user experience, and that involves bringing in human behaviors and personality.

21. David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence

Creativity is something accessible in different forms to everyone.  However, society has repeatedly reinforced the notion that only “creative people” can be creative, leaving others to shy away from it in fear of judgment.

22. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

Genius is not something you are, but, rather, something we all have.  The trick is finding that genius within each of us, even when others may encourage us to fear pursuing creative genius out of fear of failure.

23. Tim Brown: Tales of creativity and play

Playfulness allows us to open ourselves up to creativity, to be open to new possibilities without the tendency we have as adults to self-edit to protect our own insecurities.

24. David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization

Data visualization takes large amounts of data and displays it in more visual, comprehensible forms.  Besides making the data more digestible, visualization can also reveal patterns and connections less obvious in the raw numbers.

25. Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from

Johnson discusses the influence of environment on creative processes, whether it’s an intellectual salon, a coffee house, or the Internet.  A chaotic bringing together of minds is an important part of nurturing creativity as participants influence and challenge the ideas of others.

26. Derek Sivers: How to start a movement

What makes someone a good leader?  They need to be innovative and new, but they must also make it easy for others to follow.  Once a movement starts, both leader and followers continue to draw more people into their movement.

27. Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread

In a world of too many choices, marketing requires something more than your product merely being good.  It requires memorable advertisement, something new that doesn’t blend in with the ordinary things we filter out.

28. Amy Tan: Where does creativity hide?

Creativity comes from a variety of places both internal and external.  Tan illustrates these principles through stories of her own life.

29. Matt Ridley When ideas have sex

Creativity does not just come from great minds.  It emerges from groups of minds which can cooperate and react to one another.

30. Kirby Ferguson: Embrace the remix

Few things are truly original.  Even the great innovators borrow from others and build upon ideas that already exist.

31. Julie Burstein: 4 lessons in creativity

Burstein speaks about generating creativity by paying attention to the world around us, embracing challenges, pushing ones limits to find their true voice, and embracing loss.

32. Raghava KK: My 5 lives as an artist

KK describes how his artistic life has transformed over the years.

33. Janet Echelman Taking imagination seriously

Necessity can be the mother of invention.  Echelman starts with seeking a new artistic medium when her paints went missing, then continues with the engineering issues surrounding the building-size fabric art she now produces.

34. Phil Hansen Embrace the shake

Some obstacles can’t be overcome, but that doesn’t have to stop you.  Sometimes embracing the obstacle, owning it and doing something new with it brings its own creativity.

36. Stefan Sagmeister: The power of time off

Despite the creativity designers can express in their day-to-day jobs, having time for personal pursuits allows one to experiment and learn.  It also gives one a break from the everyday, to escape the boredom of routine.

37. Ken Robinson How schools kill creativity

Children have great capacities for innovation, yet their creativity is commonly stifled by schools instilling a fear of being wrong. There is a focus on academics rather than creativity, with the unspoken understanding that creative pursuits are not productive.

38. Young-ha Kim: Be an artist, right now!

Embrace your inner child: stop telling yourself it’s not productive or you don’t have time for it.  Art brings hope and laughter and allows us to reveal a bit about ourselves that we often can’t otherwise express.

39. Aaron Koblin: Visualizing ourselves … with crowd-sourced data

The program Mechanical Turk is used to create new renditions of objects by bringing in vast numbers of people to perform small parts of the assignment. Vast amounts of data are also graphically rendered.

40. Nathalie Miebach: Art made of storms

Storm data is transformed into sculpture, which is then transformed into music, turning invisible information into visual and auditory experiences.

41. JoAnn Kuchera-Morin: Stunning data visualization in the AlloSphere

Kuchera-Morin interprets scientific data in tangible ways, creating beautiful auditory and visual displays.  The results are both beautiful and functional.

42. Eric Berlow and Sean Gourley: Mapping ideas worth spreading

Berlow and Gourley map out the comments on TEDx topics on YouTube, using the information to visualize connections between ideas.

43. Manav Subodh: How to activate ideas

Because people need to dream of something before they can create it, they need to be in environments that immerse them in creative inspiration.  People generally do not embrace things until similar people are also doing it, so we should form these connections.  People are also reluctant to take the first step in expressing their creativity because they first need to overcome their fear of failure.

44. Dan Phillips: Creative houses from reclaimed stuff

Dan Phillips presents unexpected solutions to a variety of facets of his recycled homes projects, hoping to spark this sort of creative drive in others.

45. Isaac Mizrahi on fashion and creativity

Inspiration does not always come from research.  Sometimes it is things you randomly come across and appreciate.  Creativity can also come from boredom; if there isn’t enough light in your life, go out and create it.

46. Malcolm McLaren: Authentic creativity vs. karaoke culture

In the modern world, we expect instant easy gratification and immediate success.  That’s not, however, how the creative world works.  We confuse imitation with creation, a process that includes experiment and failure as much as success.

47. Lawrence Lessig: Laws that choke creativity

Laws that once accurately addressed contemporary issues are now outdated,  being applied to new  issues such as user-created content, digital sharing and other mediums which were not in the minds of those making the laws.

48. Maira Kalman The illustrated woman

Author and illustrator Maira Kalman discusses a variety of her projects and some of the inspiration from which she drew.

49. Chris Jordan: Turning powerful stats into art

Jordan literally illustrates various common things in our individual lives that become almost incomprehensible on a world-wide scale.

50. Thelma Golden: How art gives shape to cultural change

Art does not merely reflect culture.  It also changes our perspectives of it.

About The Author

This blog was created by ELO DESIGNER to share his wealth of knowledge and researches with other designers and design lovers, to give them guidance and inspiration. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated. Thank you. Follow my daily design links on Twitter or Add me on your social network.

If you enjoyed this post, please retweet or stumble to say thanks!


7 New to Graphic Design? A Comprehensive Guide to Get You Started

As with all careers as a beginner it can be daunting with no experience behind you. In becoming a graphic designer your insecurity can stifle your creativity. You are either unsure of yourself, you shy away from the simplest of tasks, or your overconfidence leads to numerous mistakes.
A professions’ knowledge is key and there is no better way than to learn from others. Studying design literature, watching tutorials and asking for practical assistance from your work colleagues, teachers or other experienced graphic designers are all good methods to increase your own knowledge and experience. The more you do, the more you will learn. Find professional forums and without being too pushy, ask for guidance but also read the discussions. You can learn from these too.
Once you have acquired sufficient practical experience, you should be able to identify your niche. Are you good at particular design features, such as logos, for instance? Whatever your talent, practice it continually and be proactive in advertising your skill. You can create social media profiles for your ‘business’ or ‘brand,’ such as Facebook, Twitter, or a blog. These are avenues for your name to become recognized and are great places where you can market yourself.
Initially, you may have to find clients but gradually they will come to you. Always remember to be professional in your dealings with clients and avoid posting ‘personal’ posts on social media. A study of business marketing will assist you not only in marketing yourself but also help you understand how a design can influence a business. In essence practice what you preach with your own media marketing.
Remember to keep in the forefront your creativity and innovation and be open to continually learning through reading articles, studying other designer’s work and asking questions of fellow designers, no matter their experience level. A beginner may see something in an entirely new way from a senior designer, who has been in the business a long time. Keep learning, always.

Want to know how to get started? Use this comprehensive guide.

A Day in the life by Travis Martin
Initially the best resources will be books on the subject of graphic design. There are numerous volumes available but we can advise on several that will assist new comers to the art of graphic design. These resources will enable you to discover the intricacies of graphic design and how to begin designing. The links will take you directly to each book.
1. Design is a Job by Mike Monterio – it is easy to read and written well.
2. Work for Money, Design for Love by David Airey – the author keeps instructions easy.
3. Graphic Design School: Principles & Practice of Graphic Design by David Dabner – a foundation course for graphic designers.
4. Graphic design, referenced: Visual Guide to the Language, the Applications, and the History of Graphic Design, written by Bryony Gomez-Palacio – a must have book for all graphic designers.
5. The Elements of Typographic Style, written by Robert Bringhurst – a masterful style guide.
6. How to be a Graphic Designer without Losing your Soul, written by Adrian Shaughnessy – practical advice included.
7. Making & Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop, written by Timothy Samara – a comprehensive layout design workshop.
To further your understanding with imagery instead of large amounts of text, there are documentaries that will make sense of the words in a visual medium.
  1. Helvetica – a feature-length movie about typography and graphic design by Gary Hustwit.
  2. Objectified – a documentary about manufactured objects and our relationship with them by Gary Hustwit.
  3. Exit Through the Gift Shop – a documentary highlighting Banksy by Banksy!
  4. Eames: The Architect & The Painter – a documentary about the most influential industrial designers.
Once you have a foundation of knowledge, then comes the practical steps into becoming a graphic designer. Basically you must get to know the tools of the trade and practice, practice, practice! The most common software to use is the Adobe suite. It has a host of applications, effects and ‘tricks’ that can be utilized, learned, and with experience, mastered.
The basics can be understood in mere weeks but to master all of what the design suite can offer, it will take longer. Tutorials are an effective way to learn and many are available; although, some are not free, but they are worth the money. Here is a short list of the tools:
Photoshop – a useful tool when working on manipulating images for designs.
Illustrator – this tool enables vector graphics, which are commonly used for logos but other uses are available within it.
InDesign – a powerful program that enables you to design print materials, electronic books and interactive PDF’s. It is exceptionally versatile.
Other basics to know are the terms used, such as RGB, CMYK, and Pantone colors, HEX codes. Learn these to avoid beginner mistakes, such as colors messed up when copy/pasting them from one format or program to another. Here is a good resource to help you.
Here is a brief glossary of terms to know. There are more but we will keep it basic.
Bleed: This occurs when an image or color extends beyond the trimmed edge of a page.
CMYK: Is actually an abbreviation of the colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black used for printing to create other colors.
Faux-baroque: utilizing swishes, botanical elements and whimsical drawings to humanize designs.
Font: Options for text size and style
Grid: A structure of rows, margins, lines and columns to organize information onto a page.
Hickey: marks on apiece caused by splashes of ink, pieces of lint or dust.
Kerning: The method of adjusting space between individual characters in a font.
Point: This is the unit of measurement for line spacing and fonts. 1 point equals 0.351 mm. (There are 12 points in a Pica.)
Typeface: the full range of characters including letters, punctuation and numbers in a series of fonts.
WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get the acronym for an estimated screen representation of a final image.
To make your design stand out, one design detail to remember is the typography. The choice of font can make all the difference in fact utilizing a couple of different fonts can create excellent visuals. The position of the text is also key to a design, so consider where you place text blocks and ‘fill’ any empty spaces in the design. Make sure you are aware of the differences in fonts, such as serif and sans serif. Also learn about leading, tracking, line-heights and kerning. Read this article on typography basics.
A key element to design is the color palette so color theory and the way colors work together is important. Learn about the basic color schemes and how your design can set a mood or give visual impact with the right color choice. Part of the Adobe suite, called Kuler, is a good place to experiment with color shades to find out how some shades work better than others.
Once you have learned these basics, remember that good design has many factors, but keep in mind these points:
  • Don’t make the design over complicated, if it is too busy or crowded it will detract from its purpose. Simple is good but refine it to pixel perfect and keep it elegant.
  • Define who your target audience is and design with them in mind. Your art work should please them not just you.
  • Remember to maintain a balance between the design and the text as this will make it not only easy to read but clean.
  • Know the fundamentals of design. These include balance, contrast, alignment, gestalt, white space, repetition and consistency. Take a look at this comprehensive list.
  • Learn about grids – although a basic tool it is vital for creating stunning designs. Grids give your art structural balance. A firm foundation will pay dividends. Try this:
  • Don’t be afraid to revise your work, in fact always revise a design before using it. Get outside opinions, as sometimes being too close to an art work makes it difficult to be objective about it.
  • Imitation of a great artist is allowed, but ensure you don’t copy! Read ‘Steal Like an Artist’ – full of illustrations, exercises and examples.
  • Save this link as it has useful lessons in every segment of design:
And just when you thought the reading was done, here are more books that will assist you in becoming a graphic artist and understand the concept, history, and techniques involved.
  1. Megg’s History of Graphic Design by Philip B. Meggs. This comprehensive reference book includes an interactive resource card.
  2. Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton.
  3. The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher
  4. Do Good Design by David B. Berman
  5. Logo Design Love by David Airey
  6. Information is Beautiful by David McCandless
  7. The Designer Says edited by Sara Bader includes inspiring words, witticisms and pearls of wisdom from the world’s best graphic designers.
About The Author

This blog was created by ELO DESIGNER to share his wealth of knowledge and researches with other designers and design lovers, to give them guidance and inspiration. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated. Thank you. Follow my daily design links on Twitter or Add me on your social network.

If you enjoyed this post, please retweet or stumble to say thanks!