Capturing Design & Typography Inspiration at a Small Town Flea Market

Flea Markets are a great place to pick up unique furniture or decorative pieces for your home, but they are also a treasure trove for timeless examples of print media, product packaging and archetypal design.

As a designer who works in print and web media I'm always on the lookout for examples of classic design that demonstrate the fundamentals: strong typography, smart use of color and simple graphic elements. On a weekend retreat to a small town flea market I brought my DSLR to capture inspiration from the incredible range of 20th century (or earlier) design on display.

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Cigar and cigarette boxes are always an easy find at flea markets and while you could certainly pick one up as a decorative storage container, they also offer beautiful examples of classic typography, crests, and decorative flourishes.

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This street guide to Brooklyn and Manhattan with its timeless "hipster" appeal uses a mix of bold fonts, simple illustration, and a textured printing medium that has as much impact and style today as it did when it was printed.

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In many ways the golden age of cinema was also the golden age of cinema poster design. Note the use of the two tone printing process, where the red of the dress, and the bold black text draws the eye across the page without any clutter. Simple, effective and stylish.

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In web design, modern browsers now allow for greater creative use of display fonts to liven up text based layouts. This classic example of classified advertisements demonstrates perfectly how using a variety of typefaces in a text heavy design can create visual interest without images, icons or logos.

(Images: Sean Rioux)

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