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There have been several attempts at reviving vintage graphic design and reinventing them into fresh new ideas. Probably the most used element within vintage revivals are pop culture icons – we’ve seen the likes of Monroe, Hepburn, and other post-war icons revived and used as a muse in different posters and digital paintings. Apart from movie and music icons, there’s the bitmap style that we’ve first seen during the early days of video gaming.
Of course these styles haven’t completely disappeared from our current graphic design trend. They still thrive within different art circles and are well appreciated. But in recent years we’ve seen a different kind of design derived from the past – the vintage letterpress.
The vintage letterpress style exudes a very western style, reminiscent of the Old West print and advertisement. In recent times, you’ll find these type of design scattered in major cities in the United States, and in different countries with strong western influences around the globe. You can check out NYC Type, a project that aims to collect and photograph the different types of typefaces scattered around NYC – which coincidentally most of which has the vintage letterpress vibe.
You’ll find that the vintage letterpress has an encompassing influence on both print and web design. While it’s widely ubiquitous, there’s good reason why different designers adapt and use this style. Here’re some of the reasons why graphic designers are using the vintage letterpress design in their work:
The letterpress typography is a combination of solid typography and cursive flourishes. It’s the ideal design for graphic artists that wish to combine elements of modernist design and Art Noveau. The typographic style that the vintage letterpress provides allows designers to experiment with their ideas and still have a structured look in their final design.
Limited Color Palette
Much of the designs produced with a vintage letterpress vibe play around two to three different colors – most of which can be produced using a color wheel. Though there are works that are done in monochromatic colors. The organic and wood-like feel of letter press designs can be attributed to the limited color palette used on the media.
Unique Design Identity
While the vintage letterpress style showcases a strict old-school vibe, there have been designers who were able to create their unique style from it. The letterpress style has also been adapted into different media wherein it stands out as a style of its own, not as a revival of a vintage design.
Web Friendly without the Influence of Web 2.0 Design
While the general flat and vintage feel of a vintage letterpress design may look less lively on websites, it allows designers the freedom to customize their designs. There are a multitude of websites online that uses a vintage style and combines it with high-resolution images, and there are some that are created by strictly using the vintage letterpress design. Probably because of this vintage revival, the web has lost the gloss and unnecessary animations it used to have before.
With the rise and continuous use of the vintage letterpress we’ll be seeing more attempts at reviving vintage styles and design. This may seem as counter-productive to some, but to some it’s more about appreciating the past and combining it with the new techniques and technologies that we have today.
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