The ’60s reimagined: designers modernize classic movie posters


One crisp October afternoon six decades ago, a joyful and energetic designer sat at his desk and contemplated the busy environment around him. The sound of coffee poured in a dozen mugs. Pencils and pens scrambled across the paper, waiting to generate forms from the creator’s imagination; outside, normal life went on.

His mind caught on something—a spark ignited by the unexpected, raw aesthetics of experimental cinema.

Grabbing his pencil, he frenetically began to create. Trippy compositions, bold typography and iconic illustrations emerged. This designer could have been Jiří Balcar or Saul Bass, or perhaps another great creative inspired by the innovation and raw edge of New Wave film. By the 1960s, the art of movie posters was a movement of its own. It pushed boundaries, shaped legendary artists and is considered by many to be a turning point in graphic design history.

As part of our 99 Days of Design campaign, we collaborated with film buffs Little White Lies to re-imagine iconic 60s movie posters—with a twist! The series merges classic designs of the past with the trends of today.

Little White Lies x 99designs by Vistaprint

At the vanguard of independent publishing, Little White Lies celebrates great movies and the talented people who create them. Established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine, LWLies offers readers a deeper understanding of the industry’s most beautiful movies by regularly publishing unique tripartite reviews, features, interviews, and podcasts.

Film and design are intrinsically linked and so, together, we commissioned three impressive illustrators on 99designs to create a contemporary poster series reimagining 60s cinema. Read on to see how each designer brought their unique design perspective to these iconic posters.

Classic ’60s movie posters reimagined

“Lilies of the Field” by Phil Poole

“Lilies of the Field” by jestyr37

Dark, bold graphics and a mysterious atmosphere make up the two-tone design from Florida-based designer Phil Poole (jestyr37).

Having worked in the industry for almost 25 years, his lingering passion for mid-century graphic design is evident in this hauntingly exuberant Lilies of the Field rehash.

My favorite thing about ’60s era design is the way minimalism was used to create such strikingly memorable imagery.

“My favorite thing about ’60s era design is the way minimalism was used to create such strikingly memorable imagery. An entire plot could be implied using just a few simple lines, shapes and colors—very impressive and challenging to attempt.”

After his initial idea, Phil experimented with colors and compositions. He contemplated creating a poster celebrating the last few years of the black-and-white film era; perhaps an image resembling a small lithography print enlarged to poster size; or even one appearing hand-painted with ink.

As we can see from the final version, Phil merged all his ideas to reflect the movie character in a simplistic, visually arresting design.

“Cléo from 5 to 7” by Evgeny Todorov

Bulgarian designer and street artist E-T, aka Evgeny Todorov, knew he’d met his match with this brief.

“I really enjoy the film and the art of Agnes Varda. I watched the movie a few times and I bookmarked all the scenes I found interesting. I wanted to capture the emotional character, the pretty but worried face of Cléo… I thought of it almost like a logo.”

I wanted to capture the emotional character, the pretty but worried face of Cléo.

Cleo from 5 to 7 poster
“Cleo” poster design, by E-T

The designer began with a loose and bold sketching phase, choosing to focus on putting ideas to paper than perfection. Simplifying the image was the following phase, in an effort to create the most engaging composition.

60s posters sketches

Finally, the fun part. The designer just jumped into Illustrator and with his mind bubbling and his pen controlling all the flow of ideas, colors and shapes were chosen, the cinematographic looks added and the result, a simple although attractive poster.

In the end, Evgeny was able to create an enigmatic mixture of color and texture, resembling a cool, vintage Cléo through a contemporary lens.

“Bonnie and Clyde” by Camila Flamenco

One glance at her portfolio and it’s clear: Camila Flamenco is hopelessly devoted to color. “I love the bubbliness of ’60s design and how colors are used to give life to things. I think I take a lot of inspiration from that and I like being able to apply as much color as I want to my projects, trying new combinations and applying textures and gradients.”

I love the bubbliness of ’60s design and how colors are used to give life to things.

Camila brought a trend-forward approach, embracing layers of textures and colors in her design. Though it’s decidedly modern, there’s still a nostalgic nod to the past.

Bonnie & Clyde poster
“Bonnie and Clyde”, by camilaflamenco

Camila’s idea for the poster was sparked during her initial sketching phase.

60s posters sketches

Millions of ideas ran through her mind, the two iconic characters could be running away from their prosecutors with money sacks. Perhaps, she’d feature a car or guns to reflect the infamous plot.

In the end, Camila settled on an emblematic composition. Back-to-back, Bonnie and Clyde reflect the ultimate pairing.

Discover more iconic designs

Great design doesn’t end here! See the full poster series on Little White Lies, and check out the 99 Days of Design hub to discover how we’re bringing creativity to businesses around the world.

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