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15 evocative examples of retro poster design

No matter what exciting visions modern technology brings, people will always look to the past. For a blast of faux-vintage inspiration, check out these retro poster designs.

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Take from the Latin prefix meaning 'backwards' or 'in past times', the word 'retro' describes anything stylistically inspired by trends of the past. Retro poster design has a strong pull for many artists, keen to revisit and reinvent the designs of yesterday. Here's a collection of 15 brilliant retro poster designs that employ faded colours, evocative textures and distinct typography that combines the best of vintage design and a modern outlook...

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01. Retro Space Shuttle

examples of retro posters
A retro homage to the NASA Space Shuttle Programme

Here, designer Aaron Draplin decided to print his homage to the late NASA Space Shuttle Programme with this pair of brilliant retro posters. Two ver­sions of the original design have been pro­duced: one with a sil­ver back­ground (sold out), and a 'Nighttime Re-entry' vari­ant that showcases a contrasting palette.

02. Orient Calls

examples of retro posters
A travel poster with a retro twist

Type in the search term travel posters into Google and you'll be presented with thousands of examples of vintage designs. But this 1936 Orient Calls design by Mune Satomi caught our eye. Not a computer in sight, this beautiful composition and colour palette was entirely hand crafted.

03. Vintage Heroes

examples of retro posters
Avid gamer Grégoire Guillemin recreates his favourite superheroes

Comic book lover and avid gamer Grégoire Guillemin often creates superhero inspired designs and these minimalist vintage posters have hit the right spot when it comes to inspirational graphic design.

The likes of Batman, the Green Hornet and the Silver Surfer are all included in the retro re-imaginings. The gorgeous typography teamed with the brilliantly sketched superhero illustrations have had us falling head over heels for the series.

04. Ennio Morricone

examples of retro posters
An eye-catching poster design for The Light House Cinema in Dublin

Illustrator Steve Simpson recently applied his distinct playful, painterly style, to this eye-catching poster design for The Light House Cinema in Dublin. The brief was create artwork to promote a season of films celebrating the work of composer, orchestrator and conductor Ennio Morricone. The Italian maestro was responsible for the scores featured in many classic films, including A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

05. Switzerland

examples of retro posters
Another iconic design by American artist David Klein

An iconic design created by American artist David Klein - the man who illustrated dozens of posters for Howard Hughes' Trans World Airlines (TWA) in the 1950s and '60s. Klein designed numerous posters advertising travel in the US and abroad and in 1957, his New York piece became part of the permanent collection of the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in NYC. View the full collection of Klein's work here.

06. Network

Artist James White researched the history of TV broadcasting before creating this cool retro-inspired design

James White, founder of Signalnoise Studio, is a visual artist, designer and speaker based in Canada. He makes posters and all manner of other cool stuff - a perfect example being this Network poster. White spent time researching the history of television broadcasting, commenting on his website: "My poster design reflects the typical viewers’ impression of broadcasting, the idealistic world where everything is okay."

07. Bullitt

Graphic designer Wayne Dahlberg created this awesome poster in homage to Steve McQueen's famous movie Bullitt

Graphic design Wayne Dalhberg is the brain behind this awesome Bullitt poster design. Dalhberg's simple, yet highly effective concept incorporates the film's famous car chase scene, featuring Steve McQueen in his Mustang Fastback GT wrapped up in an oversize rearview mirror.

08. Festival Internacional Cine de Montana

Art director Horacio Lorente uses simple, clean graphics to convey his message in this cool poster design

We love this vintage-style design by art director and designer Horacio Lorente. The talented artist created a series of posters for the Festival Internacional Cine de Montana event back in 2008. Using a simple, clever concept and the event's logo, he lets the design do the talking. Lorente's talent has attracted clients in NY, London, and Buenos Aires, and in 2010 he was selected as one of the top 10 creative talents from Argentina by Computer Arts Magazine.

09. Drive

In illustrator Peter Stults' Drive poster, James Dean takes the lead role, replacing Ryan Gosling

Illustrator and deisgner Peter Stults recently published a set of retro poster designs with a twist. His awesome 'What if' series explores what if movies we're all familiar with were made with a different slice of time? Who would be in it and direct it? Our favourite was this Drive poster, with James Dean as the lead male role. Other designs include alternate posters for Pulp Fiction, Groundhog Day, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

10. Space Mountain

Illustrator Greg Maletic was inspired by the distinctive styles of the '50s and '70s for this Space Mountain poster design

The career of illustrator Greg Maletic has seen him work as a designer for theme park industry. One of his concepts was this awesome Space Mountain design, on which he comments on his website: "Design-wise, I was on shaky ground: the style is Disneyland serigraph circa 1958, yet this ride didn’t open until 1975. Ultimately, I decided to live with the '50s/'70s contradiction."

11. Inspire/Create

This retro-inspired design by Chris Tarampi would've been perfectly at home in the '70s

This vibrant retro poster by designer Chris Tarampi looks like it's stepped straight out of the '70s. The Pac-man-like block font and colour combination creates the aged style perfectly. Currently attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Tarampi specialises in typography, graphic and visual design.

12. Reservoir Dogs

This is just one of many awesome alternate Tarantino poster designs by illustrator Ibraheem Youssef

Many artists have reworked famous movie posters with their own interpretations. But one of the coolest we've seen is this retro-style Reservoir Dogs piece, by illustrator and designer Ibraheem Youssef. The inclusion of Crayola crayons to depict each character is not only genius but takes many of us on a nostalgia trip to childhood. Youssef creates a series of alternate Tarantino designs, which, when published, took his Flickr page views from 2,000 to 32,000 in a day!

13. Flow

Artist Leigh Hunt was under the influence of Helvetica, swiss design, ISO50 and James White when he created this design

Inspired by James White's retro style, artist Leigh Hunt produced this cool Flow print. Commenting on his Flickr page, he says: "I was under influence of Helvetica, swiss design, ISO50 and James White when I created this." A fan of drawing from the past, Hunt's online portfolio features a series of retro-inspired poster design

14. Comrades of Steel

3D lighting and compositing artist Zachary Mallett is also dab hand at retro-inspired poster designs

Vancouver-based artist Zachary Mallett specialises in 3D lighting and compositing. But his skillset also extends to design and illustration as is evident in this retro-style Comrades of Steel poster. Mallett's talent has attracted the attention of many big clients, including Nikelodeon, NBC, and Ford Motors.

15. Rock 77

The concept for this poster came about after artist James White came up with a t-shirt design paying homage to the roots of the music he loves

Another from James White, the concept for this beautiful poster came about after the artist created a t-shirt design to wear at a Queens of the Stone Age concert. White developed the initial design into this Rock 77 poster design, commenting online: "I had a good time working with the elements of this piece as it’s been a while since I’ve used some straight up photography in my work, especially natural elements."

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Have you seen any awesome examples of retro poster design? Let us know in the comments below...

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