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, there are some insanely talented artists pushing the boundaries of design and illustration – so we thought we’d round together a few of our favorites into one inspiring list of visual eye candy.
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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01. Adam Nickel
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.
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.
03. Eric Comstock
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 (pictured) is his first children’s book. If you’re looking for retro and vintage inspiration, Eric is an artist who’s rocking it.
04. Neil Stevens
London-based creative illustrator and graphic artist Neil Stevens, aka Crayonfire, specialises in textured, vintage-inspired images. Best known for his retro cycling prints, which have led to work for clients like Mr Porter (above), Neil’s 1950’s airline baggage tag prints also proved popular.
05. Timba Smits
When he isn’t creating or commissioning stunning artwork for movie and review magazine Little White Lies and independent cultural magazine Huck, The Church of London creative director Timba Smits can be found making retro-style illustrations for an eclectic range of projects, exhibiting his work and speaking at events around the world. His portfolio is packed with retro posters and vintage illustrations.
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.
07. Matthew Laznicka
A big fan of classic illustration work from the 1940s to the 70s, Wisconsin-based artist Matthew Laznicka creates vintage illustrations with a contemporary twist. B-movies and pulp poster art also influence his style - head over to his website for an eye-opening variety of retro and vintage artwork.
08. Edward McGowan
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 – like this Italy foodie map – and his clients include everyone from New York Times to HSBC.
09. Ralph Cosentino
One of our favorite retro and vintage illustrators is children’s book artist Ralph Cosentino. His Fun-Boy Brand Faux Cereal mock-ups (pictured) give a nod to 50s advertising, and you’ll find a wealth of characterful, textured images on his website.
10. Tom Haugomat
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 the gorgeous colors and dramatic geometry. His portfolio is inspiring, engaging and utterly fresh.
11. The Type Hunter
No round-up of the most inspiring retro and vintage illustrators would be complete without mention of Keith Tatum, aka The Type Hunter, who shares his love of vintage ads, typography and design every day through Instagram. He creates custom vintage magic for all kinds of clients – head to his site for a stunning trip back in time.
12. Anne Taintor
American illustrator Anne Taintor takes on themes like domestic stereotypes, viewed through the lens of mid-century advertisements. Her collages combine vintage images with an alternative interpretation of what the characters might really be thinking.
13. Matt Carlson
Nebraska-based Matt Carlson regularly updates his Dribbble account with inspiring retro and vintage-inspired artwork. The freelance illustrator and graphic designer specialises in warm, nostalgic scenes with charming color palettes and stunning textures.
14. Joseph McDermott
Philadelphia-based illustrator Joe McDermott has a vintage comic book style that’s reminiscent of pop art and mid-century printing. Google, Heineken and Toyota are among his varied clients, and he’s represented by Illustration Web.
15. Lauren Mortimer
British artist Lauren Mortimer’s detailed, technical illustrations have an almost Victorian precision, with a hint of Steampunk at times. Her portfolio is whimsical, meticulously shaded and slightly surreal - we love her realistic vintage illustrations.
16. Edith Valle
Recent graduate Edith Valle creates textured, vintage-style images with an occasionally Latin feel, as you’ll see if you head over to her portfolio website. She’s one to watch…
17. Caroline Church
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, DDB Helsinki and Virgin to name just a few.
18. Pawel Jonca
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.
19. Vince Ray
Low-brow illustrator Vince Ray is inspired by old retro graphic styles, tattoos, sign writing type, fairground graphics, old horror comics and Americana. His pin up style figures first became popular almost two decades ago, and he’s worked with Nintendo, Pepsi Cola and more.
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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