Looking to the Past for Designspiration

April 24, 2018 | by Katie Baird

design inspiration

Everyone knows creatives can have days where the inspiration just won’t come. After many fruitless hours of scrolling through Pinterest, Dribbble and Behance, it’s a good idea to change your approach. A fun tactic for digging yourself out of a creative rut is to look back—way back—and find design inspiration in unlikely places.

I love drawing inspiration from vintage and antique design samples, even for “modern” designs. Design trends have circled around so many times that you can take elements from even the most dated samples and twist them into something that feels fresh.

As a fun challenge I decided to take 4 old examples of graphic design from different periods and fashion them into contemporary business card designs. All of the names and businesses presented here are fictitious.


Inspiration: Bambi Book Cover

I loved the sweet storybook script title and simple deer etching paired with the clean sans serif with extra wide tracking. The resulting business card is clean and classy with just a hint of whimsy.



Inspiration: Bauhaus Poster

Here I borrowed the unique color palette and minimalist geometric forms for a look that is balanced, yet quirky and imperfect. The loud type faces and almost harsh colors are balanced by lots of neutral open space.



Inspiration: Dead Fly Matchbook

I totally dig this odd mix of typefaces and these infrequently paired together colors. The random, almost scissor cut angles add a touch of personality and retro funkiness. I would love to see this design printed on an off-white cottony stock!



Inspiration: Bee Culture Book

I love the dark almost Victorian style of this jacket-less book. The tall ornate typeface and golden bee make for a dark and sophisticated identity. This could be stunning printed on black paper with gold foil and gold foil edges.



I love borrowing from the past to create something new. There is so much possibility out there, why not look for it the next time you need design inspiration. Where do you turn to for inspiration when you feel creative burn-out? What sources get your creative juices a-flowing? Sound off in the comments and let us know!


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