Design Inspo: Schreibkunst Poster


Josef Müller-Brockmann: Concert Poster for the Zurich Town Hall (1951)

Swiss International style gained traction after WW2. It emerged from earlier design styles like De Stijl, Constructivism, Bauhaus, and The New Typography, except unlike those movements, International style didn’t come with the historical contexts.


Exhibition poster, 2011

This poster is influenced by the earlier one, as it is based on a grid and can is very legible. Both of these designs are very neutral, which was a trait of International style as Switzerland was a neutral country. This poster is reliant on font weights, sans serif, and asymmetrical composition which is inspired from the first one in terms of design movements. Both of these are exhibition posters, which require clear and legible information which is why the second poster is suited to be done in international style.

Interview with Theo van Doesburg

Theo van Doesburg
Dutch Painter, Designer, and Architect 


In 1917, Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg established the De Stijl movement – translating to ‘the style’ in Dutch. It included a utopian vision and avant-garde design. The intention of De Stijl artists is to reveal universal harmony via visual design. The movement’s core concepts include geometric shapes – such as straight lines, rectangles, and squares – and primary colors.

Today we will be speaking with Theo van Doesburg.


Q: It’s exciting to be speaking with you today, Mr. van Doesburg. How are you today?
TVD: I’m doing well, thank you.

Q: You’ve revolutionized a movement. Your beliefs were clear, concise, and strong.
TVD: Thank you. The movement initiated due to a need to communicate – we had big ideas and truths to reveal. As artists, it came out in a visual language. I coined terms like ‘neoplasticism’ to further explain the new concepts.

Q: Why did you feel the need to coin the term ‘neoplasticism’?
TVD: It can be hard to explain abstract concepts. De Stijl artists needed a vocabulary that didn’t exist to explain this new concept. ‘Neoplasticism’ is a term unique to De Stijl and articulates the visual aspects of our core set of beliefs – primary color use, geometric shapes, strong horizontal and vertical line use, and a sense of balance and harmony that is unique to this particular style.

Q: Can you explain the De Stijl movement?
TVD: De Stijl is the style we use to express our concepts. I believe that painting, architecture, and design should be integrated into one. This is what spurred the creation of De Stijl. Our goals as artists, designers, and architects include revealing the harmony of the world through the use of geometric shapes, primary color, and prominent line use.

Q: What is it about you that made you into a revolutionary?
TVD: Thank you. I prefer to think of myself as a person who has an idea to communicate – an important set of beliefs to show the workings of the universe – my purpose is clear. It’s important to share this new knowledge in a clear way that others can understand, so as to reflect the truth of the universe in art. The integration of these creative fields is a step into the future.

Q: Why was it important to you to create the new art style?
TVD: Because nothing like it existed. Prior to De Stijl, each of these creative fields were treated as being separate. We needed to articulate the laws of the universe – the harmony, the balance. To do this, minimal design elements are required – as a matter of fact, only the most basic elements reveal this truth – geometric shapes, balanced compositions, and primary colors.

Q: What do you think makes De Stijl architecture successful?
TVD: The geometric shapes and primary colors create balance. The harmony of the universe is displayed in the visuals of the structures. The structure functions as an example of design, art, and architecture reflected in one piece.

Counter Composition in Dissonance 16 (1925) 

Q: Which piece of yours do you believe reflects the ideals of the De Stijl Movement best?
TVD: Each piece reflects the concepts of the movement in its own way. My favorite piece of mine, personally, is Counter Composition in Dissonance 16 (1925). This is because it includes the use of primary color, as well as all other formal elements!

Q: What makes your pieces graphic design?
TVD: They are simple designs used to communicate an idea.

Q: Can you define ‘harmony’?
TVD: Of course. In De Stijl, ‘harmony’ refers to the balance of design elements on the page – as well as their ability to reflect the balance in the universe.

Q: Your personal take on De Stijl is Elementarism. Can you speak on this a bit?
TVD: Of course. Elementarism ‘emphasizes subtle shifts in tones, tilting squares and rectangles at angles relative to the picture plane, and allowed straight horizontal and vertical lines to be colored, varied in length, and disconnected from one another.’

Q: What are your hopes for the future of design?
TVD: That the ideas of De Stijl permeate the blanket of the world and reveal to the people that the universal harmony and art are one. I would like to see the integration of art, design, and architecture continue.

Q: Thank you so much for your time, Mr. van Doesburg.
TVD: My pleasure! Important Art and Artists of De Stijl. The Art Story Foundation. 2018. Web. Accessed March 21st, 2018.

Arithmetic Composition by Theo van Doesburg

           De Stijl Important Art by Theo van Doesburg. The Art Story Foundation. 2018. Web. Accessed March 21st, 2018.

Creative Synesthesia April Greiman


April Greiman – Poster for Warner Records, 1982 (

I think this poster would smell of sweet fruity candies and champagne. It gives me a feeling of a grand party of young and hip individuals that are networking or socializing with a purpose in mind rather it be dating, or broadening their social horizons. The elements of the poster would move in bouncing like fashion making contact with one another in a randomized fashion. The colours are very loud from the top down into the center of the poster and then is disturbed by silent black plans that seem to interrupt and silence the energy in the piece.

If I were to put this piece into the medium of music I would envision a jazzy swing music with a storm trumpet lead that uses sufficient amount of vibrato in its long notes. This piece to me translates well into the note of the trumpet because it is very loud and boisterous, each colour is very distinctly separate from each other, similar to the notes played by a trumpet.

Similar to this exert of music:


Creative Synesthesia: Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge


Beat the Whites with the Red WedgeEl Lissitzky, 1919.


This amazing piece was one of Lissitzky’s earliest creation made in 1919. By placing geometric shapes in a smart way, it creates lot of movement. “Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge” also became the most famous piece from constructivism.

By looking at the shapes, it shows me a message of loud noise and repetitive pattern of movement, like using a drill through the walls, or hitting the hammer on the table, creating a intense atmosphere of action and war. There are multiple red rectangles around the image, and they sort of push the appearance of the big one, and the light grey triangles on the background are placed like they were hardly break through by the giant rectangle. The whole image is so powerful, and I find it just like hard drum beats. The beat start with small snares, and it gets louder and louder, suddenly the drum kicks in and make the tension go higher and higher, just like the art piece. The drum beats are so hard and they are just like the red wedge that represents the Bolshevik revolutionaries as they penetrate the anti-communist White army.

This is a soundtrack from video game PAYDAY2, it is the beat example of my synthesia for Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge. 

It is long, but just like the art piece, it builds up slowly, and explode at a certain point, makes the whole art complete while builds a strong movement and power in to it. (You can skip through some part to listen to the difference in each stage of the beat if it is too long.)

Work Cited:

“Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge.” Utopia/Dystopia, 1 Jan. 2013,

Six-Word Summary: Art Nouveau

Six-word summary for the Art Nouveau Historical Period.


Freely feminine.

Organic, orientalism;

sensuous ornamentalism…



Eskilson, Stephen J. Graphic Design: A New History. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2012.



Imaginary Interview of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


Interviewer: Hello, ladies and gentlemen, today we have a graphic designer in the house, please welcome Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec! Thank you for taking some time off from your busy schedule to be here with us tonight!

Lautrec: Good Evening everyone, it’s my pleasure to be here!

Interviewer: So, as most of us already know you worked as an artist and a graphic designer during the Art Nouveau in France. Could you tell us a little bit about your background and your career as an artist in the 1890’s?

Lautrec: Yes, for sure. Living in the Montmartre of Paris I was constantly surrounded by scenes and artists that inspired my works. Rather than themes of historic revivals, I was always more interested in the visuals of the urban life. As the idea of nightlife and cafes grew popular in France, I often found myself at cabarets, cafes, and restaurants, where I found aspiration for my works. I love to capture alluring scenes of the nightlife. 


Interviewer: Great, Thank you, I noticed that you focused greatly on depicting scenes of the cabaret. Looking at your posters, I can feel the captivating energy of the cabaret dancers. So, I’d like to ask about your specific artwork titled, Mademoiselle Eglantine’s Troupe.

Lautrec: Mademoiselle Eglantine’s Troupe was a poster design that was commissioned by my good friend and an amazing cabaret dancer, Jean Avril. It was used to advertise a cabaret tour of Mademoiselle Eglantine’s Troupe in Britain.

Interviewer: What was the process of creating this poster?

Lautrec: First of all, as I experienced the Eglantine’s Troupe’s cabaret myself, I drew rough sketches on paper capturing the movement and energy of the dancers. After, I transformed the sketches into a lithograph print.

Interviewer: Speaking of lithography techniques, could you tell us more about your style? What inspired you to create this poster?

Lautrec: I was greatly inspired by Japanese woodblock prints as they focus greatly on forms and movement. Japanese art at the time dealt with ideas of playful erotism and depicting women as visualized and somewhat sexualized figure. The themes of Japanese art correlate greatly with my ideas, so it was very inspiring to me. I was especially inspired by their use of negative space, black contour lines and unusual perspectives in Ukiyo-e art.

Interviewer: Very interesting, And what was your main goal in designing this poster?

Lautrec: As this poster was an advertisement for the cabaret, it was a requirement to be able to catch the attention of people on the streets. I believed the method of color lithography would be very suitable for it. I purposely chose colors such as yellow and orange to draw people’s eyes. The delvelopment of color lithography allowed for the poster to be mass produced and plastered through streets of Paris.

Interviewer: Did it reach your original intentions?

Lautrec: I believe that this specific poster reached its intention of accurately depicting the women on a cabaret stage. As I chose to use organic lines, freedom of movement, I tried my best to capture the beauty the dancers.

Interviewer: Why do you think your work was so successful as an advertisement for the cabaret?

Lautrec: Rather than portraying a fictitious characters, I chose to depict real-life individuals. This way, I was able to give the viewers an accurate graphic glimpse of the Belle Epoque era.

Interviewer: Thank you, your poster design is very beautiful and it was such an honor to be able to discuss your work today. Thank you very much, again for your time.

Lautrec: No problem, it has been my pleasure to be able to share my work with you today. 

Regrettably Titled “Creative Synesthesia” For the Sake of This Post, Titled differently Later

The collect grey shape of bundled figures in the poster, reeked of wet street and tasted copper. Daughter winced and let the metal tinge salt her tongue, before squinting with fresh focus at La Revue Blanche’ s Ad.


As the day was cloudy, yet dry and fairly bright, the scent of damp cobblestones had been at first a bit unnerving. A glimpse of what the overcast was likely planning for the evening, all from a snippet glance at a chromolithograph. Daughter, as quite the wanderer of dense Parisian streets, was used to being accosted by the myriad of storefronts and plastering of posters, as well as by the thrum of conjoined senses in tow with such images. Typically, however, the tastes, smells and sounds accompanying sight where too far flung in their references, and easily dismissed. A lick of sour apple and a shaggy carpet tingling flank green dresses on display. Many other such fleeting melanges. In contrast to these, La Revue Blanche had evoked an initial experience too close to a reality to merely breeze past.


She Zeroed in on the urchin boys face, only to receive a tongue-full of shallots when his penned gaze tricked her eyes down his etched, pepper-corn kerchief. She realised the pattern of miniature posters, which scaled the wall behind the depicted figures, carried a similar nightshade aftertaste, and vowed she wouldn’t look long, as she couldn’t stand the taste of anything akin to onion. It was at this moment, that she noticed the face of a woman peering out beneath a blink of hat and shawl. The warm Ivory tint of her skin, and of the flowers adorning the broad-brim she wore above, recalled the dry taste of stockings, as gripped between teeth while worrying about some other garment. The woman’s eyes were witty and expectant, though mostly subtly so, and Daughter realized her week’s predicament had been summarized in sensory by a printed paper. Her eyes widened in acknowledgement of the posters feat, and she dodged right up to the piece in search of the signature. “P Bonnard” she repeated to herself as she stole away towards the grocers, wondering how the man could have predicted her conundrum, and imbued it so cryptically into his work. “Perhaps former- father could introduce me to this fellow” she thought.

Imaginary Interview

I choose the “We can do it!” poster by J. Howard Miller in 1943 as the theme of the imaginary interview.

Good morning Mr. Miller. It’s an honour to have you on our interview show tonight.

Hi, I am so glad to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Q: So let’s start the interview. I have so many questions want to ask you. Could you tell us something about yourself?

A: Yes, I am a graphic designer. I was studied at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and I graduated in 1939. During the war I was living in Pittsburgh. I was hired to create a series of posters for the Westinghouse Company.

Q: Could you tell us something about your significant graphic design poster “we can do it”?

A: Yes, sure. This is a poster of a female worker in a blue suit. She looks attractive and strong through the muscle on her arms. She is an iconic figure of a strong female war production worker. The image representation and the slogan give audience a clear message and it is about female workers also can make achievement if they work hard in the factory.

Q: Does the company gives you lots if restrictions and requirements when you work on this poster?

A: I work for Westinghouse Company and this Company has a strict policy. This particular poster was only displayed during February 1943 inside our company. Actually, we can consider this poster was not showing up officially in the public at that time period. Basically, I followed the requirement from the company and I want to use simple elements to express the intention of the poster. It was not a stressful work for me.

Q:  What is the specific theme of this poster? Is it about to inspire women workers to join the war effort? Or it was a poster of recruitment during the war?

A: From the poster, we can realize the main character setting is based on the working-class employees and she represents the whole group of working-class women. This poster definitely is not about recruitment. It is about inspiring women workers to join the war effort. It is a poster to encourage women to work hard and to contribute to the country. That is the intention of the poster.

Q: As a graphic designer, sometimes it is a little bit tricky to get a brilliant idea in the project that you get involved. What inspire you to create this poster? Do you use any reference?

A: Yes. I was inspired by Norman Rockwell’s work. He is an Americana and Realist artist and he created a painting for the Saturday Evening Post. The painting is about a woman works in a factory. The most interesting part is he added the name Rosie on the woman’s lunchbox. Rockwell gave me a fantastic inspiration. I used the same outfit that the woman he painted. I also used some figure of female workers as reference for the design of the poster.

Q: What the story behind this particular woman figure and could you tell us about who is she? Is she a friend that you familiar with?

A: Because Rockwell painting, the woman became known as Rosie the Riveter. She is not my friend. She is a “strong and competent woman that dressed in overalls and bandanna”. At the same time, she is also an iconic symbol of “patriotic womanhood.” When the U.S government was facing the problem of labor shortage, women were needed in the defense industries, even the civilian service and the armed forces. In that time period, companies want to build a figure of woman in the public to encourage women to make more effort to the war. Women were described as confident, brave, attractive and “resolved to do their part to win the war.” She is the strong connection between the war and the working-class female employee.

Q: What is the background when you create this work?

A: After the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese military, the U.S. government was in a serious situation. American government called manufacturers to produce greater amounts war products. There are a few conflicts between management and labor unions throughout the 1930s. The corporations were facing the problem of labor shortage. They need more women to make products and work in the factories. Making posters is a great idea to make women believe they are strong and confident to make contribute to their own country.

Q: Could you provide us with some useful advice to up-and-coming designers in graphic design?

A: Yes, I would like to…I mean as a graphic design, self-development and opportunities are important. The study and working environment can provide you so much space to improve yourself. I got attention from Westinghouse Company in my early career, I appreciate the opportunity that the Westinghouse Company gave to me.

Thank you so much for joining our interview.


Work Cited:


“We Can Do It! Rosie the Riveter Description.” 24 May 2017.

Miller , Howard. “Michgan Played Early Part in Women’s Suffrage.” Wkar , Current State , 5 Nov.2013.

De Stijl, The Poem.

Bishop, Emma. De Stijl Six-word poster, Mar 27, 2018; inspired by Theo van Doesburg, De Stijl (1924).
Bishop, Emma. De Stijl Six-word poster, Mar 27, 2018; inspired by Theo van Doesburg, De Stijl (1924).

Theo Van Doesburg’s abstraction of reality into geometric shapes of squares and rectangles, and use of flat primary colours and non colours, in my personal opinion is as ridiculous as it is innovative.

Replace Cow With Flat Yellow Square” perfectly cuts down the De Stijl Movement into a truly rememberable, and rational, simplification of the style. In fact, the only way to further make these 6 words into a nonobjective and universal statement is to do the following:

Eskilson, Stephen J. Graphic Design: A New History. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2012.