How to Create Your Own Vintage Wall Art

How to Create Your Own Vintage Wall Art

Making your own vintage wall art and art prints is a great way to add character to the spaces in your home (plus, some sweet bragging rights).

So when Randy Preising showed me the kitchen wall decor he made I knew we had to share a step-by-step tutorial on how he did it.

In this tutorial, you'll learn to create a retro concept for your design, how to add details to your design work including textures, and how to print out your final work. Enjoy!

How a Trip to a Swedish Megastore Inspired Randy to Create His Own Retro Wall Art

While shopping at our local Swedish furniture store, my girlfriend pointed out a framed print of a robot.

She said, “Hey, you could do that.”

She was right (she’s always right). We had recently finished a large kitchen reno, and we were starting to think about something to put on the wall.

This being the kitchen, I decided on a theme around some of my girlfriend’s favorite foods. I also love retro signage. It brings back good memories of road-trips in the 60’s and 70’s.

I thought this would be a great way to merge the two ideas. The concept also had “legs”, as a colleague of mine would say. I’m sure I’ll be re-visiting this idea for a long time.

There’s something special about printing your work. Whether it’s simply pinning it to a bulletin board or putting it in a frame–it’s just more real.

It also encourages me to want to produce more.

Here’s how I went about creating The Toast Cafe …

01. Sketch

Every project starts with an analog notebook and pencil. They don’t need software upgrades or recharging. I want nothing to slow down the thinking process, so this is not the time to edit.

Open sketchbook with thumbnail sketches of diner sign art featuring a toaster and toast

02. Refine

Once I felt comfortable with the design, I moved things over to my light table and scaled things up. I traced and refined the design with a fine tip pen until I felt I had scan-ready artwork.

Tracing paper laying over light table with vintage diner sign art that reads The Toast Cafe Open 24 Hours

03. Copy Over to Illustrator

After importing the image, I used the Image Trace function to vectorize the art. I balanced the settings to keep the imperfections of the hand-drawn lines.

Beginning phases of vintage diner sign art in Adobe Illustrator featuring toast and text

On the background layer, I added an outline with RetroSupply's RetroGrain brush pack. I prefer starting in Illustrator as it’s faster to move things around. Plus, I have a full vector version to fall back on.


A classic collection of diverse grain texture brushes. Perfect for adding authentic gritty, grungy shading or subtle grain to your work. Easy and fast results!

04. Apply Phantom Paper Texture

Once I was happy with the layout and colors, I opened a paper texture from Phantom Paper for Illustrator and copied my work onto that file to add some cool, retro texture to the artwork.

Vintage diner sign design with paper texture created in Adobe Illustrator

05. The Completed Project

Here’s the finished wall art, along with two others, printed from an Epson R3000 on Red River Polar Matte paper.

The Phantom Paper paper textures are so effective I’ve had a few people ask me where I got the rough paper to print on (really). It only seemed fitting to frame it in something from the Swedish furniture store.

Three framed vintage diner sign designs created in Adobe Illustrator

Seamless paper

Use our high-resolution, unique layering system to give your work the look of being printed on real paper. Instantly create beautiful textures for your digital art, print work, website and more.


It’s important to fight for your layout. Don’t stop at the first sign you think you’re done, but also don’t worry about making it perfect.

The solution is somewhere in the middle. It’s also important to actually finish stuff. Only by completing projects will you know if you learned anything from the process.

And if it didn’t turn out the way you liked, then you know what not to do next time.

Do you have a personal project sitting on the shelf? A quote you love, an inside joke, or even something about toast?

Don’t wait for inspiration. Get started. The motivation will follow.


Residing in the Toronto area, Randy spent over 32 years as a Graphic Designer. His decades of experience with design, sketching, and typography is now being re-deployed into lettering and illustration.

He is an emeritus member of the Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario. In his spare time, he enjoys photography and caipirinhas (though not usually at the same time).

You can see more of his work at and follow him on Instagram @randypreising

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