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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Graphic Design

A Look at Graphic Trends That Define the 70s (Retro Fonts, Text Effects, and More!)

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Let's take a trip back in time! In this article, we'll explore the groovy and psychedelic decade by looking at some iconic vintage 70s fonts!

70s retro effects
70s Retro Effects

You can follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel, where you can also find more great design video tutorials and essays.

The 1970s were filled with many social movements and cultural trends that greatly influenced graphic design. People wanted to express themselves as extravagantly as possible through music, fashion, and art. The hippy, disco, and punk movements were just a few of the trends that defined this iconic decade and made an impact in the visual world. 

Fonts were a big part of this decade as designers were moving from the International Typographic Style that reigned in the 50s and part of the 60s. Hand-drawn retro fonts in the 70s were flowy and freeform. There was a big boom of 70s lettering fonts for advertising. Disco fonts were inspired by iconic neon lights. 

New ways of typesetting were introduced, like the Letraset and the Visual Graphics PhotoTypositor. These two techniques allowed for an easier and more economical way to transfer type. Designers had more freedom to experiment with spacing and scaling.

Letraset introduced the dry transfer technique and could hold more detail. Many of the most recognizable fonts from the 1970s came from Letraset designer Colin Brignall: Aachen Bold, Italia, Octopuss, Superstar, and many more.

The Visual Graphics PhotoTypositor used large negative film strips that contained characters next to each other. The user simply lined up the character they wanted to be printed with a lens, and it was later projected onto photographic paper. This allowed for custom adjustments to the spacing of the characters. The unit also had different distortion lenses that made words take on different shapes. 

Punk Rock Music Event Flyer
Punk Rock Music Event Flyer

Printing moved from letterpress to offset as darkrooms were becoming more and more sophisticated. It was normal to use film exposures to modify artworks and create chokes and spreads for trapping. Many devices were invented to alter type optically. For instance, one could take a solid typeface and create outlines, inlines, and interesting perspectives.

Characteristics

The 70s were characterized by multiple social movements and trends. One thing was for sure, the visuals were pushed to extremes—some might say tasteless, and some might say tasteful. Let's take a look at a few characteristics:

  • Printing allowed for the use of photography, and advertisers wanted to go all out and use as much color as possible. 
  • Colorful illustrations became almost essential in every piece of design. We can see some Art Nouveau appear with the intricate psychedelic style
  • Designers had a lot more control when it came to typesetting. Experimentations with spacing and distorted type took off very quickly. Groovy fonts included swashes, another reference to Art Nouveau. These organic shapes were added at the end of capital letters and ball terminals. 
  • Graphic design became a weapon of protest. Many political protest groups made ways to draw type designs by hand, resulting in some really groovy 70s fonts.  
  • The most iconic element in this decade was type design. Groovy music inspired 70s bubble fonts. Thick and curvy hand-drawn scripts carried on from the 60s. 70s disco fonts were inspired by neon lights. Punk rock inspired a revolution with collaged characters and distorted sans serifs. 
  • The gay pride movement introduced its iconic flag in the late 70s. This inspired designers to use many different colors in their design because it represented a positive and happy vibe. 

For more funky 70s font effects, check out the high-quality assets over at GraphicRiver and Envato Elements. Happy designing!

70s Swashes

Swashes were ubiquitous in the vintage 70s fonts. A swash is a typographical flourish that exaggerated serifs and terminals on a character. Swashes were revived in the 70s as a tribute to Art Nouveau, the movement that inspired flourishes in every aspect of the design world. 

Periwinkle

This 70s groovy font is a revival of the charm of the 60s and 70s. The curly ends and rounded edges take us back to our childhood. Periwinkle comes with a full set of alternate swashes for capitals and a few for lowercase characters. 

Periwinkle
Periwinkle

Swashington

This serif font mixed with evocative swashes and ligatures will take you right back to the 70s style. This font has an extensive library of characters and options to experiment with. With over 270 discretionary ligatures, you'll be sure to find something that works! 

Swashington
Swashington

70s Groovy Fonts

Illustration made way for hand-drawn groovy fonts in the 70s. Psychedelic and funky 70s style fonts weren't properly portrayed with your typical serif and sans serif, so designers started breaking the mold. They also had that 'look at me' quality that set them apart from normal ad campaigns. 

Flowy, smooth, bubble-like shapes were almost a direct response to the International Typographic Style of the 50s. The 70s were also exuberant and free, and hand-drawn fonts really show these qualities. 

Califunkia

This heavy, cartoonish 70s funky font is based on hand-lettered advertisements. The font includes multiple ligature options for the characters. The fun part of ligatures is mixing and matching characters—there's always more than one perfect match! 

Califunkia
Califunkia

Greta

This fun 70s bubble font is perfect for branding. The unique set of characters comes in two variants: filled and outlined. We know outlines were a big boom in the 70s style font. 

Greta
Greta

Far Out

Far Out is a groovy 70s font that features round corners on all the characters. The set is inspired by the Flower Children of the 60s and 70s. A cool add-on? 22 hand-drawn graphics to complete your designs! 

Far Out
Far Out

Marco Valmory

This retro font is bold and fun. Groovy? Check. Funky? Check. Drop shadow? Check. With this vintage 70s font, you have the full recipe you need to complete your hip design! 

Marco Valmory
Marco Valmory

Casual 70s Script Fonts

Casual 70s script fonts were less formal fonts used in advertising throughout the 60s and 70s. Much of the influence also came from the wellness movement and the need to use appropriate fonts that weren't flowy and free. 

Funkies

Inspired by disco, this funky 70s font is perfect for posters and album covers. It's bold, fun, and flowy, just like the iconic decade, and it's perfect for that fun party you've been meaning to throw! Retro fonts in the 70s are hard to nail, but this one is an exception: well designed, with many stylistic alternates, swashes, and ligatures for you to choose from!

Funkies disco font
Funkies

Groovy

Drop shadows made the 70s groovy fonts stand out by giving them an extra layer to pop. This groovy 70s font includes an extra extruded font version to create that extruded/drop shadow effect. It'll save you lots of time. The font is extensive: 593 glyphs, with 21 options for each character. That's variety!

Groovy
Groovy

Retrofunk Script

This 70s lettering font is inspired by retro and vintage advertising of the 70s. This 70s script font has a square ending to all the characters, giving it an even more casual vibe. The font includes an extruded version, so you can make your text pop off the background! 

Retrofunk Script retro font
Retrofunk Script

Punk Rock

The Xerox machine exploded in popularity in the 70s, making it easier to copy posters and flyers. Punk rock took off as a social movement against the political happenings of the decade. Revolutionary graphics with an explosive combination of text highlight the fact that there were no limits for artists. Punk rock graphics were loud and abrasive—similar to the tunes of the decade. 

Pop Punk Flyer

This pop punk flyer has a photocopied quality that takes you right back to the 70s. The Dada-style collage and xeroxed quality were staples in the punk rock scene of the decade. This poster includes a stylized 70s rock font that completes the highly saturated image. 

Pop Punk Flyer
Pop Punk Flyer

Punk Rock Music Event Flyer

Another great example of the 70s gig poster. The mix of multiple 70s rock fonts and black and white imagery, alongside the layout, makes for a visually compelling flyer.

Punk Rock Music Event Flyer
Punk Rock Music Event Flyer

Other 70s-Inspired Add-Ons

70s Retro Text Effects

The 70s were filled with iconic text effects. If you are looking to stylize your design, search no more! This add-on is perfect to go on any 70s groovy font or 70s disco font. It'll instantly take you back in time.

70s Retro Text Effects
70s Retro Text Effects

Disco Retro Lines

Nothing screams vintage 70s font like neon style. This awesome set of wallpaper is a great collection to have in your arsenal. These attractive, retro and funky backgrounds are the perfect minimalist templates for your designs.

Disco Retro Lines disco font
Disco Retro Lines

Back to the Seventies

Inspired by magazines from the 70s, this is the ultimate pack you need. It includes patterns, brushes, and textures to apply to your design. Feel free to extrude titles, apply textures, and use brushes to obtain that vintage quality in your design.

Back to the Seventies
Back to the Seventies

Show Us Your 70s Designs!

The 70s were filled with many cultural movements that influenced graphic design in one way or another. Whether it was the use of colors, illustration style, or font shapes, the 70s were a decade to remember. If you are a fan of the funky and groovy 70s, then show us your work! Let us know about your favorite style from this era.

If you want to learn more about 70s design styles, as well as other retro styles from the 60s and 80s, check out our blog post on retro design trends.

For more trendy vintage 70s fonts, check out high-quality assets over at GraphicRiver and Envato Elements. Happy designing!

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