Graphic Design Through the Decades Series: The '60s

The 1960s saw an evolution in graphic design. Like in the 1950s, you still had Saul Bass creating movie posters and a lot of earth tones dominating advertisements. However, changes were happening – from Paul Rand in 1960 modifying the IBM logo he designed in 1956 to LSD-inspired psychedelia adorning record sleeves and concert posters.

Alan Fletcher and Erik Nitsche gained prominence for their branding campaigns, whereas Keiichi Tanaami dipped his artistic wand into animation, lithograph, illustration and editorial design. The styles of the various graphic designers of the ’60s show a distinct contrast, with some holding onto the staid and prim style of the 1950s while others delved into experimentation – with and without mind-altering drugs.

1960s Japanese book cover designs. Note the muted colors.

Fillmore concert poster by Wes Wilson.

Pirelli slippers ad by Alan Fletcher. Note the scruffy beard on the bus rider in the back.

More psychedelia, this time in record cover form.

1964 book cover with graphic design by Elaine Lustig.

European typograph layout.

The often controversial OZ magazine.

Art by Sister Corita Kent, a nun and pop artist who gained prominence in the ’60s.

An example of Keiichi Tanaami’s psychedelic art.

The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” was designed by Heinz Edelman.

Grateful Dead poster by Alton Kelley, a designer big in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury scene.

From an Expo 67 guidebook. Notice how this could also be from the ’50s.

More design by Elaine Lustig, this time from 1966.

Victor Moscoso’s 1967 poster for a Quicksilver concert.

1962 book cover.

Poster from 1969.

Minimalism in a 1960s biology book.

1963 poster with ’50s-influenced earth tones.