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.
Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, El 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.)
“Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge.” Utopia/Dystopia, 1 Jan. 2013, utopiadystopiawwi.wordpress.com/constructivism/el-lissitzky/beat-the-whites-with-the-red-wedge/.
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.
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.
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.
Q: Hello Mr. Saville, its great to be able to finally meet you!
A: Likewise! Thanks for having me.
Q: Before we get started on your involvement with Joy Division and the era defining work that you did with them, let me ask you this: what is it that got you interesting in graphic design?
A: To me graphic design is entry level visual culture. I was obsessed with record covers and the look of them and I wanted to do something similar. Now, I was a bit clueless to what graphic design actually involved, and that is a lot of working to make someone else’s vision a reality rather than personal expression.
Q: How did you get into contact with joy division?
A: I worked for Factory Records with a man named Martin Hannett who was their sound engineer. Rob Gretton who was the band’s manager was a friend of Martin’s so it was natural connection. The band was working on their debut LP and knew of my work through Martin, so they reached out to me.
Q: What were your inspirations behind the design?
A: Ian Curtis and co. had a great idea of what they wanted in mind before coming to me. I spoke with their manager Rob Gretton and he gave me a big folder of their material, which contained the picture that I would end up using for the artwork. The image is from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy. The research group analyzed an area of space which seemingly appeared empty but, contained a pulsar (an object similar to a star that is far away in space and produces radiation and radio waves) which was emitting a tight, repetitive signal every 1.337 seconds. The final image is replication of the recorded data which was cut out and stacked from paper.
Q: How did you go about reproducing the found image to make the final artwork?
A: Those paper cutouts from the original that had been stacked together were sent to a draftsperson who traced over the ridges with India ink. This placed the data in 2D, the version of which was shown in the book that the band had found it in and shown to me originally. I subverted this by reversing the position of each color, by making the background black and the line waves white. I felt that this fit this choice made sense because of the sound of the band. They had a deep-toned sound which was reminiscent of The Velvet Underground.
Q: Does the cover symbolize something for the band?
A: The cover is an abstract image that the band felt worked well with their sound. It has a tight, repetitive rhythm which is reminiscent of Stephen Morris’ drumming. It originated from The Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, which is an observatory in Manchester that specializes in radio astronomy related research and development. Joy Division was a leader in the post punk movement in Britain. Since the band is also from Manchester, this seemed like a fitting image for them because it reflects their roots. They wanted something abstract for their album artwork because they were not a band that wanted to stand out; they did not want to be popstars but instead, would rather have had their music speak for itself.
Q: Did this make it hard to design an identifiable cover?
A: The band already knew what they wanted so they made the job easy for me. What I did take into consideration though, was including the name of the album on its sleeve. I spoke to Rob about this idea and in the end, we both agreed that this was not the best route to take. The cover that we used had a much stronger composition than with the name plastered on. Also, it just wasn’t cool. These were a group of blokes making some noise in the post-punk movement and it was more interesting for them to remain sort of aloof.
Q: Finally, did you have any idea of the cultural impact that the album and its design would have?
A: I don’t think its possible to think that far in advance. I had heard the record and knew that it was a good album, I even knew that the design for the cover was good. Thirty years later though to see the reproductions of it in the media is crazy. There have been multiple fashion collections that pay homage to it, there have been versions made into pottery, in light installations and people have even tattooed it on to various parts of their bodies. To think that it would have spread so much and become so symbolic is unfathomable.
- Christiansen, Jen. “Pop Culture Pulsar: Origin Story of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures Album Cover [Video].” Scientific American Blog Network, 18 Feb. 2015, blogs.scientificamerican.com/sa-visual/pop-culture-pulsar-origin-story-of-joy-division-s-unknown-pleasures-album-cover-video/.
- Grundy, Gareth. “Peter Saville on His Classic Joy Division and New Order Artwork.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 28 May 2011, www.theguardian.com/music/gallery/2011/may/29/joydivision-neworder.
- “About Us.” About Us | The University of Manchester | Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, Jodrell Bank, www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/about-us/.
- “Pulsar.” Pulsar | Meaning of Pulsar in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English | LDOCE, Longman Dictionary, www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/pulsar.
- aspect of american art deco
- streamlined pencil sharpener/streamlined objects in general
- (idea that the future is fast and sleek)
- influences ideas of what we find “retro” today
- inspires 21th century designers to incorporate “speed whiskers” and rounded objects when trying to invoke dated ideas of the future
An aspect of American Art Deco was the streamlining of letters and objects.
Later design uses these aspects when trying to invoke dated ideas of the future. In the 21st century, when interior designers want to make an “old-fashioned” area, they use a lot of the same techniques, such as adding “speed whiskers” and making objects that don’t need to be aerodynamic more streamlined. These techniques are used today to create nostalgia and can be considered an interesting novelty when selling an item/house/area.
ie. Retro-futuristic Cafes incorporating rounded corners and chrome colours
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.
Graphic design is a field where the artist can creatively express an idea or concept with the intent to evoke some sort of emotion or thought in the viewer and allow them to experience some type of nostalgia. Not only that, but viewers can interpret a work of art in his or her own way and relate to it on many different levels, not just on an artistic platform. The chosen graphic design is Typographica by Spencer Herbert in the year 1960. This particular design is reminiscent of the 1960s era, an important and colorful time in the social and political fabric of history. Here are some of the six words that summarize this historical period and how this image illustrates them vividly:
1) Expression & 2) Emancipation:
The 1960s marked a defining era for women as it was the time that the sexual revolution took place, where women started becoming more comfortable in engaging in casual sexual encounters of illicit nature. In other words, they were involved in sexploitation and sexcapades. This allowed them to be as expressive as ever and in many ways, paved the path for feminist movements and essentially allowed women to be more liberated and emancipated. This social importance of the 1960s is illustrated in Herbert’s Typographica through the sheer arrangement of the letters in the image. They are floating freely, in other words, appear to illustrate the sexual expression or freedom of the women of that era. Some of the letters are more prominently placed in the foreground which represents the first group of women who started the movement or the casual activities that ultimately led larger groups of women to follow suit. The smaller letters in the backdrop represent the baby steps toward this sexual liberation and the eventual progression toward the movement. The letters are not positioned in an orderly fashion, but rather, appear off-kilter and free-floating as if they were unrestricted and unbridled like the women of the 1960s.
3) Revolution & 4) Culture:
Herbert’s Typographica design revolutionized the landscape of design, typography, and advertising and still influences the work today. It brings together the many elements of typographical perspectives, including but not limited to the artistic, commercial and historical ones. To him, it essentially works as a catalyst which brings together new and creative ideas with their practitioners. Typographica allows viewers to think both verbally and visually, which is a revolution in and of itself. Likewise, the 1960s era was characterized by many revolutionary movements and events that shaped the social and political landscape. For example, we saw big changes in the social scene where many people experimented with drugs (“head-trips”) and engaged in bait-and-switch. As well, as mentioned earlier, it was a sexual revolution for women altogether. The art depicts these many revolutions with the sheer size ratios of the typography; the large letters equal the revolution or change because they are more pronounced than the smaller background letters. All these events influenced 1960s culture in some way, whether it’s in business, in fashion or in the general political sphere.
This is also a big theme that is relevant to the 1960s and sort of goes hand in hand with the above words. Aside from the social and political changes, the word ‘trendsetter’ was introduced, as well as words like ‘A-OK.’ We also saw trends of paparazzi being introduced as well as the 1960s ‘teenybopper,’ Trend is portrayed in Herbert’s Typographica because this type of graphic design is a trend in and of itself. In the midst and whirlwind of all the letters floating around in the image, the word ‘Typographica’ emerges in the sidelines, which signifies the upcoming trend or cultural revolution, which was very characteristic of the 1960s era. Again, the sizes of the letters signify the different trends, where the bigger letters show the ones that are emerging the fastest and making a mark in cultural history.
The colors in Herbert’s Typographica represent contrast: yellow and purple. Similarly, it signifies important elements of the 1960s. The purple can mean hallucination since drug use and hallucinatory experiences were common in this era; ‘purple’ is sometimes a reference for a drug (“Purple Drank”). Additionally, the ‘opposites’ motif is revealed in the color contrast as well because in the 1960s, we saw opposite phenomena such as ‘surf ‘n’ turf’ where meals were mixed with land and seafood. The contrast in both the color as well as the sizes of the letters represent the contrasting phenomena and themes that were characteristic of the 1960s era. Thus, Herbert’s Typographica is an excellent graphic artwork that is reminiscent and nostalgic of the 1960s time period.
Herbert, Spencer, Typographica no. 1, new series. Cover. June, 1960. Cary Graphics Arts Collection, RIT, Rochester, New York.