Emory Douglas and Plakatstil



Lucien Bernhard, posters for Adler typewriters, 1908

Emory Douglas, The Black Panther newspaper, 1969

One of the big design trends in the design of the 20th century was the simplification and the reduction of elements in most styles of design esthetic.  And while this had been a general tendency for a big part of the century, different styles, schools of thought and political movements have approached this in different ways and have inspired each other over the years.  Here we will be discussing how Emory Douglas, The Black Panther newspaper, 1969 is inspired by plakatstil.  the example given here of plakatstil is Lucien Bernhard, posters for Adler typewriters, 1908.

There are a few factors that make this adamantly clear.  First, the prominence of the title is shown in both.  While the plakatstil poster only contains the name of the product and not a single other word of text, the black panther cover draws on this organization by establishing a high level of contrast between the titles “The Black Panther” and the rest of the text which is so small that unless you are standing very close, you can only read the title and see the image.  This allows the message to be very direct, in that it focuses on the thing (weather the product or the political party) that it is trying to promote.  The viewer can look at it and know what it is talking about in a matter of seconds.

Another element that is clearly inspired by plakatstil in the Black Panther cover is the flatness of color.  In both cases, colors are completely reduced to organic shapes of solid color, allowing for the poster to have a stronger overall visual impact on the viewers.  There are not many details to the subject depicted but only enough visual information is given to make the object or the person recognizable.  Being inspired by plakatstil, Emory Douglas is confronting the viewer with the subject of this man’s face.  they both work with a limited palette, Douglas working in blue monochrome and Bernhard in only purple and orange  Though plakatstil was rejected by the Germans in the 1st world war, here Emory Douglas attempts to take it back and repurpose it for the advancement of the black Marxist movement.


Wes Wilson Interview

Wes Wilson

screen-shot-2018-03-28-at-1-22-31-pmDesigned for the Bill Graham Presents company for a gig in San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium featuring bands Grateful Dead, The Canned Heat Blues Band and Otis Rush.

Interviewer: Hello Ladies and Gentleman! Today we have a very special guest who id going to talk about his poster for the San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium. He is one of the key founders of “the rock poster” design and even designed a font that is still being used to this day. Please welcome, Wes Wilson!

Wilson: Wow, what and introduction, are you going to get them to kiss my feet too? *Chuckles*

Interviewer: Don’t be so humble, sixty years later your work is still galleries all over the world from the MoMa, Tate and the AGO in Toronto. You deserve the introduction.

Wilson: Wow man, don’t thank me, thank the acid.

Interviewer: So its true? This art is inspired by the huge psychedelic revolution that boomed in the 60’s.

Wilson: Ahah well that’s what people say, but there is a lot more behind my art than just that. I am fascinated by the reaction of complementary colours. That’s why I used the pink and teal in the Fillmore poster. I wanted to make things that people really loved to look at, and for the community that I was a part of, it involed the symbolism involved in their vices. In the 60’s, Kaliedoscops were all the rage. People loved anything that broke the laws of phsysics and seemed unworldly. They really wanted an escape from their lives and these images were the farthest thing from reality.



Wes Wilson, Captain Beefheart, 1966, color lithograph, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Leslie, Judy and Gabri Schreyer, and Alice Schreyer Batko, 2000.75.8

Interviewer: How did this work as a marketing tool for the rock music scene

Wilson: Well, the rock seen was all about the unworldly. George Harrison came back India with all these weird instrument and people clung onto it because it was unlike anything they’d ever heard before, it was so experimental. And I try to do the same think with my art. I wanted to take my experiences and reformat them into my art so that people could relive psychedelia while they were sober and looking at the poster. Not only did it look really ‘far out”, but it gave the hippies a little taste of what these concerts and festivals would feel like. These images send the message the live music would put them into a trance. It advertised the beautiful woman that would be swaying to the music in the thick crowds, and most importantly, how their minds would feel while exploring it all.



Geroge Harrsion in India


Interviewers: Wow I wish live music was still like it was in the sixties.

Wilson: Me too

Interview: So how exactly did you convey these emotions and moods in your work? As I understand, the text was revolutionary for doing just that

Wilson: Ah yes. Everyone know my name because of that font I invented when I was young. Its sort of funny, I was sitting in my kitchen one day (because I didn’t have a studio since I wasn’t really a trained artists) doodling along when I had a sudden realization. Why don’t I try to draw with my text instead of just writing it? I was inspired to do this by Aldred Roller’s, an art nouveau designer who seemed to draw his text instead of just using a simple typeface.

Anyways, My drawing had lots of spirals and optical illusions in order to mess with the eye but my text looked really bland and didn’t match into it. So I decided to make the letters part of the drawing instead of just appearing beside it. My goal was to completely fill the space with imagery so your eyes would get lost in the poster. I had to squeeze all of the text into the wavey spaces in between the spirals and waves and by the time I was done, it felt completely unworldly.


Alfred Roller, 1897 Slevoge Lithrograph Print

Interviewer: Why do you think the text is so effective?

Wilson: Well it gave people the wavy distorted visuals that were popular in psychedelic culture throught text. No one had morphed text to that extent until I came around

Interviewer: Don’t you think that your text kind of defeats the purpose of a poster? Its supposed to communicate information, but your texts is very hard to read!

Wilson: Well I make posters that people love to look at. When they invest the time in staring as they get lost in the letters, they eventually figure out what it says. I don’t think this style would become popular in this decade because internet culture must deliver information to quickly grab people’s attention, but the fast pace of consumption wasn’t as important in the sixties.

Interviewer: How did you get into poster design?


Wilson: Well I was doing some design work in San Fransico for a man named Bob Carr who ran all the hippie stuff in Hait Ashbery. I was making posters for poetry nights and jazz halls. Bob was just starting up a small printing firm in his basement to help promote all his events and make money on the side. So I had the full facility to create lithograph posters with all the tools and colours I needed. I started to get really slammed with work when I got intouch with a promoter Chet Helms. He got all the huge jobs for be with the Beatles, the Doors and the Greatful Dead.


Interviewer: So, what will your next project be?


Wilson: Nothing because I died 4 years ago.


Blog Post 4 Design Inspiration


Pop Art, A bold and colorful style of design using vibrant colors, a less detailed, more graphic design, with a strong use of repetition.  Pop Art is sometimes laid out like a comic book page, with each panel being different colors but with something still related to it.  The piece on the top is of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn’s and on the bottom a piece by me, of someone biting a caramilk chocolate bar.  It’s a long story.  This piece was used for a page spread for an assignment I did and I wanted to include all kinds of different types of art influences in my work, Including Pop Art.  Pop Art has not only influenced me it has been used in several advertisements and other forms of media.  Pop Art is still used today and if you ask me is one of the most recognizable and distinct art styles of all time.  It is constantly evolving just like everyday art and continues to influence modern art styles and their artists.  It has a world wide appeal with its use of color and its content.   Without Warhol’s original style playing such a heavy part in the pop art style, An idea like this for my own work, would not have been possible.

Imagery Interview – Paul Rand


Q: Hello everyone! Today, we are glad to invite a special guest for interview. He is one of the most influential American graphic designer, Paul Rand! Before starting an interview Paul, on my behalf and all OCADU students, we really appreciate for your time! I believe nowadays most people must be familiar with some of the logos you designed, but there might be some students don’t know much about yourself, could you please briefly introduce yourself?

A: Hi everyone, it is also my pleasure to come and see all these passionate young designers. First, as introduced, my name is Paul Rand, I am an American graphic designer and an art director, but sometimes I would like to introduce myself as a writer or a professor in Yale University.


Q: Steve Jobs had been referring you as a phenomenal thinker, a very interesting and intertwining pure artist, also somebody who is very astute at solving business problems. He said you solved a very big problem for them when designing the NeXT logo, as a graphic design student, I am really curious about the story behind the logo, could you tell us more specifically about that logo development?

A: It was such a nice experience working with Steve and his company. I was actually the first and the only designer they approached for that logo design. I came several times to visit NeXT, and get to know the company and people. Most companies at that time had their logo just a logo type and very little companies has their logos as a little jewel or a symbol that can be used independently of the logo type. And at apple, they had such a symbol. It was very rare at that time that you could read a logo and get the meaning without the type. The challenge Steve and his company had was how they could have a little jewel that they can use to put on the product, and not spending 100 million dollars in ten years to make that association in the customers’ mind. So I solved the problem by creating a jewel that had contained the name of the company.


Q: The Apple logo was really similar to the your famous “Eye Bee M” logo! These symbol stand out on their own as a logo without any types, and still could be identified by customers. That logo was so smart and strong.

A: Thank you for your compliment. That was one of my favorite works, too.

Q: How do you describe your style as a graphic designer? What are some techniques you used?

A: It is always hard for an artist to describe his own style. The style I am used is called the Swiss style, also known as the International Typographic Style. I always try to create clean, readable, and objective designs through the use of systematic grids. For the technique I used, photomontage is one of my favorites. My IBM logo with an eye, a bee and a letter M we just mentioned is an example for the photomontage.

Q: So one more question with the little time we have remaining. You cooperated with so many famous major corporations, including IBM, UPS, ABC and NeXT, could you share some communication skills with us as a designer when negotiating with customers?

A: The first thing is you have to be confident about yourself and your works. Also as a designer, I would fought through all of the formal relationship between a client and a professional. I had very clear conclusions about what the relationship meant to up to both parties and how it should be conducted. For example, when I was negotiating with Steve for the NeXT logo, he asked him if I would come up with a few options, and I said no I will solve your problem for you and you will pay me. And you don’t have to use the solution if you want options go talk to other people but I will solve your problem for you the best way and I know how. You use it or not that’s up to you, you are the client, but you pay me. There is a clarity about the relationship between designers and clients. Hopefully my way of negotiating with clients could be helpful for you.

Q: Thank you for sharing! I think that’s really helpful to know as a designer. And thank you again for coming for this interview, it is very interesting to learn about your works and experiences as a designer.

A: That was my pleasure. Wish all of you keep on your passion for graphic design.

Works Cited

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


1993 Interview re: Paul Rand and Steve Jobs




Rebels of the 20th century

As an early 19th century movement, Berlin anti- Dada art sought to disrupt modern day society and fight political issues surrounding the collapse of the economy in Germany after the second world war. Its main artistic strategy for doing so was a style called Photomontage. Photomontage originated from Germany and was a style first incorporated by Berlin Dadaist Raoul Hausmann and Hannah Hoch. This style literally pasted cut outs of images from newspapers and magazines and created a collage composition. Specific subjects of interest typically include the Weimar government, bourgeois materialism and representatives of an older dynasty. The artwork being examined here by Hannah Hoch, “Cut with a Kitchen Knife Through the Last Weimer Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany” (Eskilson, 137). Stresses ideas of getting on with the new and leaving the past behind. Along with subjecting the Weimer government to its idealistic flaws and living in the past, Hoch used photomontage to rebel against men and women standards and gender roles in society. We see a variety of different people in this photomontage including Karl Marx, a famous communist, the Weimer government of Germany, Expressionist German painter and many accomplished women through history. We also see an association of fragmented words and letters relating to anti-data.

Like the Dada movement and Hannah Hoch’s Photomontage, “God Save the Queen”(Eskilson 340) by James Reid,  which features rebellious acts against the government, in this case, the Monarchy. James Reid was commissioned to create the Sex Pistol’s new album cover. Reid took an official photograph of the queen, taken by a famous in-house photographer of the royal family, Cecil Beaton. Like a basic photoshop format, this photo is placed as a background and a layer of ransom-style letters are placed over top. This style is part of post modern graphic design which took place up to 1972. The ransom letters although vulgarly cover the mouth and eyes, expose a unique art style most like and inspired by Dadaism. This style is called Detournement, an English-Dada strategy in which exists a way to destabilize the mainstream or disrupt what is considered normal. This whole rebellious idea puts itself into an almost punk-like attitude which rages at the crowns dominance over society and how traditional and past existing it is.

To summarize, both Hoch and Reid use photomontage to expose modern manifestos to an old and decaying society that should be left in the past.  Both pieces use photography as the dominant and only use of medium that is cut and pasted onto the art board. Both pieces use replicated images of the government that diverge and split into newly made protested work and in return creates a powerful and aggressive statement.


Hannah Höch. German, 1889-1978 Cut with the Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany (Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser durch die letzte Weimarer Bierbauchkulturepoche Deutschlands). 1919-1920 Photomontage and collage with watercolor, 44 7/8 x 35 7/16” (114 x 90 cm) Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie © 2006 Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, © 2006 Hannah Höch / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo: Jörg P. Anders, Berlin
Hannah Höch. German, 1889-1978
Cut with the Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany (Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser durch die letzte Weimarer Bierbauchkulturepoche Deutschlands). 1919-1920
Photomontage and collage with watercolor, 44 7/8 x 35 7/16” (114 x 90 cm)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie
© 2006 Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin,
© 2006 Hannah Höch / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, photo: Jörg P. Anders, Berlin



James Reid, God Save the Queen, 1977

Works Citied



Eskilson, Stephen F. Graphic Design History: second edition. Yale University Press, 2007.

Blog Post 4: Psychedelia Synesthesia

Psychedelia took inspiration from the past and reimagined it. A lot of the typography and swirling imagery is reminiscent of art nouveau. Psychedlia emerged as the youth culture at the time became radicalized, and psychedelia has reaches much further than just graphic design. [1] Psychedelia is rooted in politics, protest, music, and escapism, often through the use of recreational drugs known as psychedelics, likely what coined the term “psychedelia.” [2] Psychedelia was dual and grounded in its duality. Parts of psychedelia were “childlike, bright and colourful,” [2] while other aspects were darker and heavier. This could also be linked to LSD, and the difference between having a “good” trip, versus a bad one.

Due to this split, psychedelia could be dual in senses as well in terms of taste, touch, smell, and sound.

In terms of it’s more vibrant, colourful sound, Psychedelia could be linked to sounding like San Francisco by Scott McKenzie, as he softly sings about wearing flowers in your hair.

It’s darker, more protest driven heavier side, psychedelia could sound like Jefferson Airplane’s White rabbit, as Grace Slick sings about psychedelics and needing to be educated as she yells to “Feed your head.”

The smell of psychedelia could be the divide between what does a music festival smell like, versus what a protest smells like, which may not be so dissimilar given the time period. Both likely smell a bit sweaty and like weed.

It’s hard to pin down exactly how psychedelia would feel, as part of it’s aesthetic seems to be derived from optic illusions, and a sort of loss of reality. Perhaps it could be linked to the feeling of dissociation. As you walk up the stairs in the dark to go to bed, and you think there is another step, but you’re wrong, and your foot falls through darkness and for that split moment your reality is imprecise and warped. Yet not always a fearful feeling, but could also feel like the warmth on your skin, when you wake up in sunlight, still drowsy, but yet so very warm.

The taste of psychedelia could be linked to the recreational drug use. The bitterness of mushrooms, the earthiness of marajuana, and the inky, metallic, tongue numbing taste of LSD.

[1] Rochester, R. Monica. Art Chantry. Art Chantry Speaks: A Heretic’s History of 20th Century Graphic Design. Feral House. 2015.

[2] Simonelli, David. Working Class Heroes: Rock Music and British Society in the 1960s and 1970s. Lexington Books. 2012