20 of the Most Inspiring Retro and Vintage Illustrators

by RetroSupply Co. Staff July 27, 2020 5 Comments

20 of the Most Inspiring Retro and Vintage Illustrators

We’ve come across some incredible retro and vintage illustrators in our time. Whether you’re into Mid-Century advertising, Pop Art, traditional hand-lettering or beyond, these are some of the best illustrators creating retro artwork today.

We’ll be adding to it over time, so bookmark this page for when creative block next strikes. (Or, you know, you just feel like looking at some awesome artwork.)

In the meantime, grab a cuppa, kick back and be inspired by this vibrant snapshot of the most exciting retro and vintage illustrators out there – some of whom used our brushes in their work.

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Talented Brisbane-based illustrator Adam Nickel is influenced by mid-century era design. His striking artwork features quirky characters, tactile textures and vintage color palettes – not to be missed if you’re interested in retro imagery.

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Philadelphia letterer and illustrator Mary Kate McDevitt brings a vintage, hand-crafted aesthetic to her stunning illustrative lettering projects. She married retro characters, layers of detail and ornate lettering in this beautiful collection of Edin Blyton stories, and you’ll find a treasure chest of vintage hand-lettering work on her website.

American illustrator and designer Eric Comstock has a retro mid-century modern aesthetic. He worked in advertising for 11 years before turning his bright, quirky style to freelance illustration, and Charlie Piechart and The Case of The Missing Pizza Slice is his first children’s book. If you’re looking for retro and vintage illustration inspiration, Eric is an artist who’s rocking it.

London-based creative illustrator and graphic artist Neil Stevens, aka Crayonfire, specializes in textured, vintage-inspired images. Best known for his retro cycling prints, which have led to work for clients like Mr Porter. Neil’s 1950’s airline baggage tag prints also proved popular.

When he isn’t creating or commissioning stunning artwork for movies and magazines, The Church of London creative director Timba Smits can be found making retro illustrations for an eclectic range of projects. His portfolio is packed with retro posters, logos, graphic design and vintage illustrations.

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Migy Blanco's distinctive color palate and retro styling has been called upon by clients ranging from Nickelodeon to Mac User magazine. The UK-born illustrator developed his bold aesthetic in Buenos Aires, and has built an incredible portfolio of children’s books with a fresh, vibrant vibe.

U.K. based illustrator Toby Rampton creates colorful, graphic illustrations for children and the young-at-heart. His illustrations are expressive with captivating shape and line work reminiscent of famous illustrators of the 50s and 60s while maintaining their own modern twists.

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Edinburgh-based illustrator Edward McGowan’s work is characterised by a hand-crafted aesthetic, rough textures and bright colors. His flat, vintage-inspired style often evokes the paired-back look of screenprinting, while more details drawings take on a retro feel. His clients include everyone from New York Times to HSBC.

One of our favorite retro and vintage illustrators is children’s book artist Ralph Cosentino. His superher character Fun-Boy (pictured) gives a nod to 50s advertising and takes inspiration from vintage Japanese pop culture. You’ll find a wealth of characterful, textured images on his website.

Reminiscent of 1950s and 60s commercial illustration, Paris-based illustrator Tom Haugomat has been making waves with his sophisticated, stripped-back style and vintage, cinematic eye for a few years now. Unusually, he’s an animator-turned-illustrator – which explains his cinematic eye and gorgeous moody color palettes. His portfolio is inspiring, engaging, and utterly fresh.

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Graphic designer Jonathan Lawrence produces Mid-Century logos and typography that will make any type enthusiast drool. Lawrence is also the creator of Type Hunting where he collects vintage ads, typography, and design.

American illustrator Anne Taintor often takes on themes like domestic stereotypes. Her collages combine vintage images under a humorous modern lens inviting the viewer to take a closer look. A bit of an outlier on this list, Taintor's work harkens back to popular Mid-Century collage techniques in design and fine art.

Nebraska-based Matt Carlson regularly updates his Dribbble account with inspiring retro and vintage-inspired artwork. The freelance illustrator and graphic designer specializes in warm, nostalgic scenes with charming color palettes and stunning textures.

Spanish born Pintachan's charming Mid-Century inspired work perfectly encapsulates the style of the era typically reserved for children's media. His textured and whimsical Mid-Century illustration work captures the feel of childhood with basic shapes and bold colors.

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Tierra Connor is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. With her passion for mid-century design, vintage ephemera, and retro illustrations, she combines vibrant color palettes and bold shapes with rich textures and grains–weaving these elements together to highlight her sentimentality. Check out her exclusive RetroSupply tutorial "How to Create a Retro Magazine Illustration in Illustrator and Photoshop."

Illustrator, Designer, and educator Ed Vill possesses a playful style with retro characters and exciting color palettes. His use of hand lettering and traditionally derived textures reminiscent of 50s illustration styles makes her Mid-Century Modern work a cut above the rest.

For a 19th century engraved style, take a look at the vintage images from London-based scraperboard artist Caroline Church. Her main influences include iconic engravers Thomas Bewick and Gustav Dore, and all kinds of clients love her work: Domino’s (pictured), DDB Helsinki and Virgin to name just a few.

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Hints of Picasso-style Cubism and Saul Bass can be seen in the vintage, textured work of Polish illustrator Pawel Jonca – along with a health retro twist. He uses Corel Painter and Adobe Creative Cloud to create his stunning illustrations.

Oakland, California based Renaissance Man Christian Robinson creates sweet retro illustrations created primarily with collage and other traditional art techniques. His work concerns snapshots of every day experiences in a world that makes space for all children.

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America artist Shag, aka Josh Agle, has carved a career creating slick paintings in the style of early 60s advertising. Populated by sharp businessmen and skinny women drinking martinis, his retro illustrations have attracted the eye of big-name clients like Disney over the years.  

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RetroSupply Co. Staff
RetroSupply Co. Staff

Author


5 Responses

Joe
Joe

March 10, 2020

Elliott Mattice, master of retro. Nuff said.

Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes

January 18, 2019

How on earth could you leave out Derek Yaniger?

matt loehrer
matt loehrer

August 06, 2018

Steve Mack and Andrew Kolb are also great retro illustrators (@steve_mack and @kolbisneat on Twitter) are both great and worth checking out—

Tom Hermans
Tom Hermans

February 16, 2018

Great collection. Gonna keep me busy all weekend.

Dameon
Dameon

February 19, 2017

Quite the awesome collection. Lots of inspiration on these websites.

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