Design Inspiration: Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk – Ian Keeler


Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk by Paula Scher of Pentagram, 1995


Handbill for an excursion train, 1876

Mass media in 19th century America consisted primarily of handbills and posters. Literacy rates were rising and technology at the time limited the printing of images, so these handbills relied on text. (McCoy) In order to effectively grab the attention of a passer-by and communicate a message, the type was often large, bold, and crisp. From 1828 to around 1900, during which the handbill shown above was produced, wood type was the favoured printing method. Wood type was invented for advertising purposes, as large scale typography was necessary and casting letters that size in metal was expensive and problematic. (Kelly) Though wood type was ideal for display text in advertising at the time, it quickly became overshadowed by newer technologies, its contribution to the evolution of headline typography is forgotten. (Kelly)

The poster on the left was designed by Paula Scher of Pentagram for The Public Theater, making use of The Public’s typeface: wood type. The Public is one of America’s first nonprofit theaters, and is built on inclusivity, accessibility, and the “by the people, for the people” attitude. (About The Public) The Pentagram’s poster was meant to align with these values, advertising Bring in da Noise to the public in an easy to read, and yet enticing, manner. The arrangement of the various creates a fun, graffiti-like impression in keeping with the Public’s brand. (The Public Theater – Story.)

Both designs targeted large audiences, use predominantly text to communicate a message, and fill the page with large-scale type. The Pentagram’s poster incorporates not only the wood type lettering used in the handbill, but also the method of communicating through text: headline typography, all capitals, prioritizing impact and readability. Both designs also use a selection of weights and widths to create variation and fit the design. One can even see the parallels in the way letters of the same word are sized differently to emphasize the word, or fit a certain space. Also consistent is the  use of solid-coloured block letters and solid backgrounds arranged in geometric divisions, although Scher takes the idea a step further, orienting words vertically, horizontally and diagonally. These blocks fill the entire page in both designs, creating a rich and detailed design.

The poster was hugely successful, and advertised the show all over New York. The style also quickly became popular. Though it wasn’t solely used in the theater scene, wood-type block lettering was adopted by theater advertising, proving it’s continuous influence. (The Public Theater – Story.)

Works Cited

Kelly, Rob Roy. “American Wood Type.” Design Quarterly, no. 56, 1963, pp. 1–40. JSTOR,

McCoy, Katherine. “American Graphic Design Expression.” Design Quarterly, no. 148, 1990, pp. 3–22. JSTOR,

“The Public Theater – Story.” Pentagram,

“About The Public.” The Public,

Six Word Summary – Constructivism – Ian Keeler


Social – Constructivism had a strong political component. (Drucker & McVarish, 182)

Minimal – Constructivism used limited colors and simple shapes. (Drucker & McVarish, 182)

Austere – Constructivism stripped away decorations.

Forceful – Typefaces were bold sans-serifs, and colors were powerful. Arrangements were dynamic.

Geometric – Designs had strong angles, straight lines, and perfect circles

Functional – Artists in the Constructivist movement were against “Art for Art’s sake” and wanted to make useful works. (Meggs & Purvis, 301)

After looking through images of constructivist designs assembled by Ilene Strizver (Russian Constructivism and Graphic Design) I decided on a radial composition. The type forms part of the spokes and the design radiates from the word “social” representing the fact that social beliefs were core to the movement. The gear design represents the functionality of the movements, as well the illustrative representation used by Constructivists . The type and color palette also derives from these original works.

Works Cited

Drucker, Johanna, and Emily McVarish. Graphic Design History a Critical Guide. Pearson, 2013.

Meggs, Philip B., and Alston W. Purvis. Meggs History of Graphic Design. 5th ed., Wiley, 2012.

Strizver, Ilene. “Russian Constructivism and Graphic Design.”, 27 Sept. 2017,

Coty by Charles Loupot

by Ian Keeler


Art Deco – Coty by Charles Loupot

Art Deco was movement through several art disciplines during the 1920’s and ‘30’s. Characterized by clean and simple designs, the movement was a perfect fit for graphic design. Forms are stylized and tend towards geometry. Many Art Deco designs follow the aesthetics of the modern machine-produced items – flat planes and symmetry.

Coty was a print produced by Charles Loupot. One of the pioneers of the Art Deco movement, he produced advertisements for many companies. It contains many characteristics of the Art Deco movement. The layout is symmetrical and balanced. The woman depicted fits into the typical stylized figure motif popular in the movement. The letters are simple and geometric. The design is clean and uses subtle textures in place of naturalistic touches.

The feel of the poster is very romantic and nostalgic. The picture makes me imagine a beautiful evening party of years past. The subtle textures in the color evokes the smoke scent of a wood fire, and the chill mist of the damp evening outside. You can imagine the smell of the woman’s perfume, the swish of an elegant silk gown. The click of high heels. One almost hears muted conversation and gentle classical music of a nearby event. The sharp letters suggest the cool feel of the glass. The rich color hints at the flavor of a spiced red wine.

Brigitte Roussey. “Charles Loupot, Poster Painter” Tout Lyon Affiches. 16 June, 2016. Web. Accessed 24 January 2018. Translated with Google’s translate functionality.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Art Deco” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 2 November 2017. Web. Accessed 24 January 2018.