Aesthetic Exploration: 70’s

The 70’s aesthetic consists of bright colors assembled in a wavy psychedelic pattern and funky out of the ordinary fonts. Not each design followed the same parameters.  Graphic designs began to push the norm and became more experimental. This led to the graphic designs of the 70’s to be coined the “dark horse” of the century. The 70’s was also a boom for advertising, so bright colors and eye catching designs quickly became popular. Advertisers began to push limitations to stand out and draw consumers attention.

These bright colors and designs were also in conjunction with the increased popularity in psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psychedelic mushrooms. For those under the influence of these drugs, the patters and colors would appear to come to life. The ties to the drug community made many of these designs to become a symbol for rebellion and pushing against the norm. The evolution of new music genres was also a large factor. The introduction of jazz, funk and disco helped shape the “look” of the 70’s.

Typography also saw a boom in the 70’s which involved new fonts and text designs. New technologies allowed artists to move away from the rigid text style of the 50′ and 60’s. These technologies included Letraset sheets and phototypesetting. Letraset sheets are pre-printed sheets with different designs on the which when placed on a surface could be rubbed off leaving the desired design on the surface. These were cheap and accessible so they were used by a wide variety of designers, both amateurs and professionals. Phototypesetting is a technology that allows the user to easily print designs onto photographic paper. The user would line a desired character from a scroll up with the lens of the device. The lens would then print that desired character. Some devices even included distortion lenses that allowed users to print abstract version of each character. A prime example of typography in the 70’s is bubble lettering which completely went against the standard for text and font.

A major influencer in this style is a man named Milton Glaser. He is most famous for his “I Heart NY” logo, however, a large portion of his other included designs including a large variety of colors and patterns contrasted with large portions of black to make the colors pop even more. This design found its way into the  interior design of the day. Home interiors would consists of large amounts of white and be contrasted with furniture that would add different pops of bright colors.

Today a 70’s style goes great with designs that are trying to be retro and for many provide a dose of nostalgia, however, I see this aesthetic as an over correction. The 70’s was a push to be different and in many way they overdid it in my opinion, but I happen to enjoy many of the graphic designs that came from this era. Not to say I would make it my house wall paper, but on a poster or as a piece of artwork I believe it would make a great eye catcher in a room.


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