Customer Reviews: Retro Style Graphics (1000'S Design Style Palettes)
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on November 28, 2009
I think the title is a little misleading: A lot of the stuff in here would be better described as grungy than retro, necessarily. I was particularly disappointed that--even though the bottom of the cover says "1000s of Photoshop brushes,..."--that there were only two Photoshop brushes (a distressed texture one and a light flares one), neither of which seem particularly retro.

As far as the patterns and vector graphics go, there is some useful stuff, but overall they're rather underwhelming. (I liked the vintage font guide, though.) It also would have been good if the gallery of retro art by other designers used elements from the book. But, then again, since a lot of the elements in the book aren't particulary exciting or even retro-seeming...

I had really high hopes for this book. It's a shame it doesn't live up more to my (understandable) expectations. I'm a big fan of Grant's Colorburned site, and I really hate to give a negative review, but perhaps doing so will contribute to the next one in the series being a bit more up to snuff.
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on February 12, 2010
The two reviews so far that state that the book is "low on content" don't get the point of "Retro Style Graphics:" it's a printed sourcebook with a CD packed with resources so that the buyers of this book can get to work with their own creations.

Unlike the Taschen series of books, where we get to see prints and photos for inspiration, RSG helps designers with a quick and easy reference to all the resources offered. Think of it as a Pantone Color Chips book, but for Illustrator and Photoshop brushes, color palletes, fonts and vectors.

Detractors of this book might think it's not worth the low price for which it sells, but when designers are inundated with information, management of digital assets can, more and more, become a chore. RSG is accessible, easy to thumb through, and well-organized. It makes finding the materials on the CD easy. The savings in time, as well as the resources themselves, make this book valuable for all my retro design projects.
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on October 13, 2010
This review is hard to write because I really wanted to like this book. But it is really hard to find something nice to say about this resource except maybe that it makes a really great bad example. If I wanted to teach someone what a design book shouldn't be, this would be one example of how to not do it right.

I was really looking forward to getting my hands on this volume; I was hoping for a book that would provide some really good materials I could immediately put to work and that would give me some insights on creating the kinds of graphics I remember from the 50's, 60's, and 70's. I didn't get that. As Gertrude Stein said, "there's no 'there' there," and there's little/no retro, and not any real help in the book.

First of all, the graphics and textures do not come with instructions about how they were generated, nor are there guidelines how to apply them to my work. I can hear someone arguing that a good designer wouldn't need those instructions, but that's a mistake; the point of any style book is to answer the question "how to do," and in the absence of "how to," the book just isn't very useful.

There is a fabulous font catalog in the book, but none of those fonts are included on the accompanying disc. The author should have talked to (from whom most of the fonts are sampled) and at least gotten some sort of a "deal" on purchasing the fonts. Perhaps the author could have surfed for similar fonts on free sites and included those fonts on the disc.

Second, what is billed as "retro" is nothing of the kind. I don't know what to call the genre of material presented here--another reviewer here has suggested "grunge," and I suppose that will do--but the styling in this volume is as obviously fake as a Rolex knock-off purchased from a Singapore street dealer. For a real glimpse into real retro, check out "Ad Boy: Vintage Advertising with Character" by Warren Dotz and Massud Hussain or Retro Graphics: A Visual Sourcebook to 100 Years of Graphic Design.

And really, this is the problem with the book: there is nothing here that is not available elsewhere both free and better. Here's what you should do: go to the local library and dig through old magazines and newspapers and find out how high-style real retro was, this faux stuff isn't going to cut it.

In the last section of the book there is a blurb of text that says, "...what good are resources unless you know how to best apply them?" Good question. If the author had told us how, then we would both know and I would be able to say nice things about his book now.
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on January 11, 2010
I adore "retro," though I'm amused at the popularity of a family design that combines graphic concepts created by well-known professional designers as well as concepts some of them reviled. What other "school" of design would encompass both the sophisticated work of someone like Reid Miles and that of some anonymous grunt slaving in studio bull pen creating matchbook art? This book, Retro Style Graphics, is an interesting compendium of patterns, fonts, high-resolution scans of textures such as letter and ledger paper and vector graphics. If you're looking for a comprehensive overview of retro artwork, I'd keep searching, but if you want a great little resource to flesh out your design toolkit this is the book for you.
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on June 15, 2011
All the wonderful material shown in the book is NOT on the CD included. There are some brushes and patterns but not a single one of the 20 pages of fonts is included. I have to say I'm utterly disappointed with this book and cannot at all recommend it.
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