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Art by Kenny Coil

Design by the Decades: Get inspired by 70s graphic design trends

Those who grew up with smartphones may find it difficult to imagine how life was in the 1970s. To put it into perspective, the internet was decades away from commercialization, and the dot com boom and “modern” technology were just beginning to bubble to the surface.

Nature was, therefore, a tremendous driving force behind the common visual themes of the 70s, including flowers, mushrooms, sunsets, and earthy browns, reds, yellows, and greens. Many of these trends are a continuation of popular elements of psychedelic 1960s designs. Still, many 70s styles have also come into their own through the emergence of 70s rock, pop culture, the growth of advertising, and the beginning of mass-produced media.

The 1970s saw graphic design using mixed media in various applications, including combining photography, typeface illustrations, and real people. Continue reading to learn more about the characteristics of 70s graphic design and get inspired to explore these retro design trends in your own design projects.

70s graphic design
Art by Lively Scout

When we say “70s,” you say… “groovy,” right?! Graphic designers everywhere probably recognize the famous tri-color CBC logo, album art from ​​icons like the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Rolling Stones, and David Bowie, and even NASA’s “worm” logo. But what influenced these designs?

Here are three extra “groovy” graphic design trends from the 70s to explore in your work this year.

Floral Patterns

It’s no secret that flowers ruled the 1970s. The “flower child” trend originated during the Summer of Love in 1967. Still, it survived the last three years of the 60s, making its way directly into the floral patterns strongly associated with the 70s.

Often called “hippie” patterns, floral patterns in 70s era designs include paisley patterns, mandalas, and floral motifs in general. Rather “hippie” designs, today they’re just “hip.”

  1. Flower Power Cosmetics 70s brand branding cosmetics design electric floral flower illustration logo logotype makeup modern organic organics plants power script vintage
  2. Retro Patterning 60s 70s floral geometric pattern patterning retro shapes surface design vector
  3. ABBA Voyage 60s 70s 80s abba abba voyage disco flowers gig poster illustration music poster rainbow setlist show trippy voyage
  4. Be Yourself 70s branding flowers lettering retro tractorbeam typography
  5. Smell The Flowers beer branding cooper craft beer flower child flower power flowers funky hippie icons identity illustration packaging peace rainbow trippy typography
  6. New Year New Woman 60s 70s female artist graphicart groovy illustration livelyscout nouveau pop portrait illustration procreate psychedelic purple retro retrovibes vintage illustration

Row 1: Nolan Fleming, Meg Lewis, Bailey Sullivan. Row 2: Tractorbeam, Brethren Design Co, Lively Scout.

Clashing Colors

It may be that your floral pattern incorporates the 70s trend of color clashing, specifically reds, browns, oranges, and greens. The colors are pretty natural.

You can see these colors in paisleys, mandalas, or other patterns of simple shapes used in posters, wallpapers, and carpets, among other places.

  1. Hipster Canoe Apparel Co. 70s bear beer camping canoe cooper enamel mug french press hipster ipa mug retro sunset typography
  2. Imagination 60s abstract illustration psychedelic retro shapes trippy vintage woman
  3. Coffee packaging 70s branding coffee dribbbleweeklywarmup graphic design package packaging packaging design print retro warm up
  4. Monarch Cover Options album art album cover texture
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  5. Ava Mae's apple branding funky graphic illustration logo minimal orchard simple
  6. Firebolt - Super 8 beer brand brand system branding craft beer identity illustration logo packaging print retro stripes typography vhs

Row 1: Lisa Engler, Pavlov Visuals, Mario Lovric. Row 2: Trent Walton, Aleisha Samek, Jay Master .

Persona-Driven Graphics

Whether you’re looking at a famous 70s rock album or a Coca-Cola ad, you’ll find a lot of persona or character-driven graphics mixed with funky-fresh typefaces throughout the designs of the 70s.

This mainly refers to the collage-style combinations of real-life photography with colorful shapes, prints, and typography. Look to leaders in pop-punk like The Ramones and Generation X for prime examples of collage and persona-driven graphics design.

Other themes throughout this category include hippies, flower children, psychedelic “wavy” shapes, and disco scenes. Think Woodstock-style peace, love, and rock ’n roll.

  1. Sister Sister Sister 70s badge band botanical branding bright floral funky haim halftone illustration logo music muted poster psychedelic retro sister tour vintage
  2. Jack De Keyzer Album Art 70s custom lettering fillmore fillmore poster handlettering lettering poster design psychedelic type
  3. Beach House apparel apparel design branding camper collage design graphic design ocean photo collage photography retro surf surf art surf van surfer van van life vintage wave
  4. Grace Potter // Daylight Tour daylight tour gig poster grace potter illustration landscape portrait psychedelia psychedelic screenprint sunglasses
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  5. Kendall Street is for Lovers Shirt Graphic band shirt design gig poster merch design music shirt graphic typography virginia
  6. John Prine Show Poster branding design gig poster graphic design illustration john prine music richmond rva typography

Row 1: SG Kivett, Scott Biersack, Wildwood Design Co.. Row 2: Half & Half, Brent McCormick, Brent McCormick.

Get inspired by the 70s

In a time famous for psychedelics, tubular typography, and disco, search for 70s styles on everything from wallpapers and stationery to posters, carpets, and funky tapestries. The design world is seeing a lot more of these delightful retro throwbacks in our current tech-heavy digital landscape. To be honest, it’s an uplifting break to see adorable packaging or fun posters and t-shirts with this style!

Compared to the clean and highly minimalist trends that came before it like Atomic Age Design, Mid-century Modern and Swiss Design (hello, Helvetica), the 70s era of graphic design can only be described as “trippy” and “tubular,” and we’re here for it!

Olivia Hoskin About the Author: Olivia Hoskin is a freelance writer with a background in tech and marketing. A true design fan at heart, you’ll find her writing about the latest industry trends, technologies, and the inspiring endeavors of fellow creators. She’s a champion of remote work, a lover of responsible technology, and a fitness geek and enjoyer of the outdoors in her spare time. Find her at

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