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Recreate the Look: 60s Art Poster

ana & yvy March 13, 2023 · 8 min read
Recreate the Look: 60s Poster design

Colorful patterns, liquid shapes, curly lines, loud illustration layouts: the 60s are back.

No matter if you’re into fashion, interior, or graphic design, 1960s-inspired color palettes and aesthetics are everywhere. Inspired by Flower Power, the psychedelic movement, and artists like Peter Max, Victor Moscoso, Wes Wilson, and Rick Griffin, the avant-garde styles of the sixties are everywhere.

Rick Griffin & Victor Moscoso – Avalon Splash” by c_nilsen is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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L’Art Nouveau and its influence

Art Nouveau played a key role in this decade’s most popular styles. From around 1890 to 1910, L’Art Nouveau emerged as an artistic reaction to industrialization. The way the world looked was changing dramatically: we went from a nature-oriented life to an environment defined by electrification and automation. Think factories with smoking chimneys, loud cars, and assembly-line optimized work that forcibly orients humans towards an artificial way of living. 

Victor Moscoso, Quick silver Avalon ballroom (San francisco), 1967” by lartnouveauenfrance is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
vintage poster by Alphonse Mucha” by sofi01 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

The artistic community started to turn against these unnatural surroundings. They fought back with soft shapes and colors as well as organic plant and feminine illustrations. This decorative art style was applied to nearly everything from interiors, to architecture, and paintings. In Art Nouveau, every single thing could be an art piece adorned by floral and delicate elements. 

HOMAGE TO ALFRED ROLLER »The Vienna Secession« (for widescreen displays)” by arnoKath is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Back to the future

Psychedelic poster design

Let’s go back to the 60s. A whole generation was feeling disconnected and expressed it through protests and pacifist art. This decade saw a movement of young people getting together to express their beliefs and celebrate through festivals and concerts. The surge of live concerts created a need for unique band and music posters.

In a time without social media or accessible TV ads, the way to share your music was through posters. With so many options out there, bands stood out by creating a bold visual style that blended surrealism, comic art, and, you guessed it, L’Art Nouveau.

1960s – Julie Christie with psychedelic music posters” by Diego Sideburns is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Acid color palettes

We already know trends are cyclical, with each new wave bringing slight changes inspired by current times. While 1960s poster designs were heavily inspired by the art styles we’ve discussed, illustrators changed one specific aspect: color palettes. 

Vibrant, intense, and solid colors were used instead of light and soft pastel tones. The Illustrations and their high contrast palettes were psychedelic and as loud as it gets.

Fast-forward to 2023

A hyper-digital and seemingly over-connected, yet lonely, generation in the middle of political unrest and post-pandemic restrictions discovers the freedom of meeting each other in person again while climate change and financial burnouts threaten their New Normal. Sigh.

Inspired by the 60s and their embrace of free-flowing art, we’re seeing a new movement toward unrestricted shapes, layouts, and typography. A nod to asymmetry, whimsy, and psychedelia: all an expression of our collective need for space and flexibility. 

Recreate the Look: 60s Inspired Art Poster

Throughout this tutorial, we’ll create a 60s-inspired quote poster for any occasion. I chose the ratio for Instagram Stories (9:16) which you can use for your Pinterest Pins as well. The 60s poster style could be a cool way to advertise, for example, your font or illustrations. If you want to dive deeper into the topic, you can find out more about Instagram Carousels in this blog post.

Let’s jump straight into Adobe Illustrator. First, we’re going to create an Instagram Story-sized document: 1080px width and 1920px height.

Hopefully, you already have a cool quote selected or have a piece of text in mind. For my text, I chose a playful curly font that matches that Art Nouveau, 60s clash style. Kaleidoscope is one of Mysterylab Designs‘ many amazing retro fonts.

Since the 60s psychedelic poster designs were handmade by artists, typesetting was fluid and layouts imperfect. We’re going to recreate this by combining our text with a vector shape. To achieve this, I drew an oval and used the pen tool to deform it into an asymmetrical blob.

If your blob is ready, make sure it is above the text you plan to deform. Select the shape and your text and choose “Envelope Distort: Make with Top Object” or use the shortcut option+command+C and basically press the font into your shape.

Your first try doesn’t have to look perfect and you can always adjust the shape. If you can’t select the shape, access the path through the Property panel by clicking on the small warp icon.

Now that our text is set we’ll add the other part: Florals. Try to choose florals that look handmade to replicate the look. For my floral background, I found a wonderful flower illustration bundle called Retro Spring Flowers from Phosphorus Design Co.

Next, place the elements around the liquid font and try to match the movement of the font a bit.

Although the color palette of Phosphorus Design Co. florals is already vintage-looking, we going to tweak it further. Create a color palette you like with the help of amazing tools like Coolors or make one from a cool retro 60s poster to achieve an authentic look.

I made a few small squares to find my colors and chose a more 2022 palette to add some spice. Inside Illustrator, you can simply grab and drop colored shapes into the Swatch panel and it automatically creates a small folder with your colors and tones. Creating this swatch folder is essential to tackle our next few steps.

Now select all the illustration’s elements and edit the colors using the Recolor Artwork > Color Harmony option that comes with Adobe Illustrator. This feature is so underrated! It can bring your workflow to the next level – you have to try it out!

The Recolor Artwork window opens up and we will find our color palette in there. You can select it, adjust colors manually here, and check a live preview of the illustrations as the palette chagnes. Play around until you’re happy with the result.

The next step is a quick but super effective trick to get that retro look. Select your text, make the color match one of your floral or illustration elements, and add a dark outline to your font.

We’re almost there! Remember you can always adjust the elements because we’re working in a non-destructive way. To make it easier to see the final outcome, you can set the view to Trim which basically shuts off everything outside of your image but does not delete it, so you still can move things around with ease.

If you’re happy with your result, export the image into a file format of your choice and make sure to check “Use Artboards”.

Adding a vintage texture

To add the right vibe and make the quote look more authentic, as if you had actually saved this poster from a 1968 concert, we’re going to use an incredibly effective texture tool by the Australian shop Studio2am.

This cool retro Zine texture is for Photoshop and works with Smart Objects. Simply click on the layer they’ve marked as “Double click to edit” and a new layer pops up: the Smart Layer. Add your design into it, save and close it.

Our design has another ratio as the pre-made texture so we’ll make some tiny adjustments. First open the settings folder and you will spot two overlay images. We’ll select there and scale them to the size of our quote canvas.

Save the final image to the destination of your choice – you now officially created a unique and retro art poster!

Experiment with other illustration elements like Halloween pumpkins to instantly turn this into a seasonal piece. Bring the retro vibe into every occasion!

Some other 60s editorial fonts and illustration elements to look at

Chunky fonts:

Playful florals:

The 60s & 70s trend is here to stay

This trend will stay for a while, especially during the summer. I highly recommend checking our more inspirational design elements in the same style to get into the groove! The Sunflower trend, for example, works great for inspiration! Play with color palettes, bringing in unexpected hues that add a different flavor to this 60s art poster. Add a different spin to make the trend uniquely yours!

What other looks are you into?

Did you enjoy this tutorial? Did you try to Recreate the Look? Any other design style you want to learn about? Let us know! Visit Creative Market on Instagram and tag us in your stories or share a comment below.

Stay curious!

Ana ✌🏻✨


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ana & yvy

ana & yvy | Hi I’m Ana. I create animations and design thingy things & the rest of the day I cuddle my doggo. If you have any questions please feel free to send me a message or an email 🧡 Here're my other shops: https://creativemarket.com/JanuaryBloom & https://creativemarket.com/StykkeStudio

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