If there’s one thing that popular culture in 2013 loves, it’s a great vintage look. Every so often in our culture the new modern designs grow tiresome and repetitive, and pop culture looks backward for fresh ideas. Although you can convey the nostalgia for yester-year through many different mediums in a graphic, one of the easiest ways to turn a regular design into a blast from the past is a quality vintage font. Here is some retro typography inspiration for making your very own.
1. The 1920’s Baseball Team
This look brings baseball back to the days of no gloves and curly mustaches. Notice how all the characters have ligature (The lines connecting letters.) The varying sizes of loops creates great contrast.
2. The Old Style Beer
If you want your product to flourish with vintage ale elegance, try some extended, curly serifs and ears. Also, all the characters are capitalized giving the text it’s own strength.
3. The Groovy 70’s Night Club
If you want to convey the hip sounds of 70’s jive, try thick curvy letters with eccentric ears and tail, or elongated arches and hooks. This text feels fun and mystical like a night at a smokey soul club.
4. The 50’s Biker Tattoo
This Vintage Tattoo font looks just like the biceps of tough talking, leather jacketed bikers of the 50’s. Check out the cross-strokes and serifs on almost every letter or the incredibly thin stems.
5. The Victorian Advertisement
The Victorian Era was all about elegance and decadence. See how that is conveyed through the contrast of normal characters with those with tall ears and necks, and elaborate open loops.
6. The Classic 50’s
You know this font; it is all over anything that’s retro. What makes it so classic is the thick block lettering and dimensioning. It’s strong and it pops right off the page.
7. The Vintage Tee
This font is known for it’s use on screen printed t-shirts. It’s height is almost three times it’s width. This font is meant to be seen from far away. Distressing the font gives an instant feel of age even if it’s freshly printed.
8. The Over the Top Ye Olde School Font
If you’re going for the “vintage from 50 feet away” look, here’s an excellent example. The key to making this font work is contrasts: the thick and thin transitions in the arches, loops, spines, and bowls made with sharp angles; the thin, lanky tails versus the stout ears. They give a medieval feel to any text.
9. The Days Before Video Killed the Radio Star
To make a clean looking font reminiscent of the golden days of radio, try tall characters with crossbars below the midline. The key here is to keep the text looking sharp and crisp– just like the news broadcasters of old.
What can be more vintage than the good ol’ fashion pre-word processor days of handwriting. While penmanship and cursive isn’t being taught in schools anymore you can still find the art in it through careful study. Much like the number 8 Ye Olde Style, contrast between thick and thin is important, but it’s more evident in the ligature between the letters, the loops, and the tails. Also the axis must be tilted toward the right.
Whether it be Bookman, Times, or Comic Sans, fonts grow and change with culture. New fonts emerge and become popular (Helvetica anyone?) Have you created a font of your own? What makes it different? Is it a subtle change like the loss of a serif or a raised crossbar or is it a major decorative statement?
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I'm a recent graduate of the University of San Francisco with a degree in Biology and a passion for the creative arts. I love building websites, trying new things, and I have a passion for social media.