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2013 June Creative Research: Retro Color Reborn


June 7, 2013

Retro Color Reborn

We’ve talked about popular culture’s love of nostalgia in recent posts like Sixties Style and Analog Appreciation, but our fascination with the past is also impacting visual culture through the proliferation of retro color palettes used in modern photography and design.

Reminiscent of a bygone era, retro colors easily evoke feelings associated with memories of the past and seemingly simpler times; times which have become increasingly appealing as technological advances continue to hurl us into the future at breakneck speed. The popularity of vintage-style photo filters in mobile apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram have contributed to the trend, which is now reaching mainstream photography, web design, advertising, and home interiors.

While the term “retro” can apply to a wide range of colors and eras, hues are often muted and less saturated overall. Hushed tones, which aren’t quite pastels, are occasionally paired with brighter hues, often from the opposite side of the color wheel. The result is an array of natural tones that range from off-whites and yellowish-browns to grays and blues with pops of color. Sites like moviesincolor.com, mycoloriq.com and colourlovers.com illustrate the trend nicely while offering readers color palettes from the classic films and ads of yesteryear. While retro style often goes hand in hand with these color groupings, more and more photographers and designers are blurring the line between past and present by combining retro palettes with subjects that are thoroughly modern — ensuring that we still embrace today.



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