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.
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.
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.
“why not use what we’ve got” summarizes an international style which integrates previous styles such as De Stijl, Russian Constructivism, Bauhaus, and New Typography into a discourse of commercial communication. It brings learned elements from the past and remakes it into a new style. From the fact that it reuses various styles of design to make a new one, I felt like international style designers were struggling to use everything that they’ve learned so far, and what they have got throughout their study of design.
Inspired by these international style designs:
and this Russian Constructivism design:
El Lissitzky, Beat The Whites With The Red Wedge, 1919.
and De Stijl, etc.
Eskilson, Stephen J. Graphic Design: A New History. 2nd ed., Yale University Press, 2012. Print.
The De Stijl movement literally means “the style”, and it sought to be like nothing seen before, as well as to establish a universal form of expression. One historical design from this style is “Tableau Deux” by Piet Mondrian, pictured below.
This piece embodied the De Stijl movement because it had characteristics such as non-objectivity and harmonious relationships between and/of scale and colour. Colours included were primaries, as well as non-colours such as black, white, and grey. The composition was also reduced to non-overlapping shapes like squares, rectangles, horizontal and vertical lines. Through these elements, the abstraction and process of elimination of reality, and reduction of the real world into fundamental aspects was achieved. Many of these are present in Ukrainian artist Sasha Getsko’s 2012 painting, “Geometric Shapes”. Pictured below, this acrylic on cardboard piece evidently possesses De Stijl characteristics.
The colour choice consists of primarily red, but also includes non-colours such as grey, black, and blue-grey. The shapes present are also squares and rectangles, and Getsko employs horizontal and vertical lines in a similar fashion. None of the shapes are overlapping, and they also vary in scale.
Henri Privat-Livemont is a Belgian artist in the post-Mucha Art Nouveau period. In his well-known poster, Absinthe Robette, Privat-Livemont displays an elegant semi-naked woman lifting up a glass of yellow-green liquid and staring at the steaming liquid with amazement. The overflowing cloudlike steam fills with the whole background. The steam coming out from the glass bottle seems with the wonderful aroma of lime and lemon. The background shows the gradation from dark green on the bottom to light green on the top. It seems that the woman is standing in the green refreshing herbaceous ocean. The decoration of left-side frame looks like a cluster of grass with earthy smell. The woman’s curly tangerine hair smells fresh and alluring, which seems like juicy lemon blending with bergamot. The woman’s seductive body behind the creamy transparent gauze gown is barely visible, presenting a sense of clean and sexy softness. Viewers may feel sweet scent like butter or vanilla by looking at her figure.
The green-yellow liquid is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage called absinthe. Absinthe is made of sweet fennel, green anise and other medicinal herbs. During the late 19th century to early 20th century, there was an overwhelming absinthe faddish in France. In Aleister Crowley’s book, he describes that absinthe as “green goddess” (Crowley, “Absinthe: The Green Goddess”). In Privat-Livemont’s poster, the graceful woman is considered the figure of green goddess. However, excessive absinthe is also a narcotic drug because of a special chemical compound called thujone. What’s more, absinthe was banned in America and certain Europe due to its hallucinogenic effect. However, French people were still seduced by the scent of absinthe, which represents on Privat-Livemont’s poster exactly. Privat-Livemont brings viewers into a natural world. Viewers can smell herbs and sweet scent from the poster. The body note of woman resonates desire and fantasy. Privat-Livemont reminds viewers that people can gain a sense of pleasure by drinking absinthe.
For reflecting the smell of this poster, I designed a perfume formula with rich herbaceous, woody and slightly sweet scent.
Fougère [fern] Color: Emerald Scent Type:
sharp and rich herbaceous, woody and slightly sweet
The name of fragrance is L’utopie, which means utopia in French. The intent of the fragrance design is to ease people’s mind and forget the troubles in reality. The color of fragrance is emerald, which is the same color of classic absinthe liquor. The addictive top notes are mixed with lemon verbena and green absinthe, which is stimulating and fresh. The mid notes resonate the elements of lemon verbena and absinthe. Lemon, bergamot and vanilla are from lemon verbena, while oakmoss and anise are the primary ingredients of green absinthe. The base notes are amber and chypres from absinthe, which smells rich and warm everlastingly.
In conclusion, Privat–Livemont designed a successful poster to help viewers to imagine the tantalizing smell of absinthe before purchasing it. The concept, timeless beauty and joy shows clearly. The graceful woman figure also reflects a sense of sexual desire and the beauty nature. The poster captures the popularity of addictive alcoholic beverage and the memory of hedonism in the late nineteenth-century France.
“Absinthe: a special drink!” FAQ, www.absinthes.com/en/faq.php?faq=14§ion=24.
“The return of absinthe.” Absinthefiend, 4 Feb. 2012, absinthefiend.wordpress.com/category/absinthe-history/page/2/.
Crowler, Aleister. “Absinthe: The Green Goddess.” Erowid Absinthe Vault : 2 Experiences, erowid.org/chemicals/absinthe/absinthe_writings2.shtml.
How has historical graphic design influenced later design?
And, Where are we.
[ El Lissitzky, Runner in the City, 1926 ]
[ 1988 Seoul Games of The Olympiad Poster ]
[ El Lissitzky, Runner in the City, 1926 ]
In 1926 Lissitzky joined colleagues from the Association of New Architects (ASNOVA) in designing a new sports club, and he created this frenzied representation of an urban athlete as a model for a large frieze. He combined images of at least three separate elements-the runner, the track and hurdle, and a double exposure of Times Square-into a single print and then sliced that print into strips, creating an object that is both constructed and deconstructed. The visual result is a suspenseful moment-shattered, separated, and stretched-that weaves the mechanics of man into a dynamic tapestry of industrial optimism. The heroic pose of the runner, transposed to the center of New York City, becomes an emblem of triumphant human achievement: man and metal engage in an ambitious leap across several voids in the service of industrial progress. (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/265543)
[ 1988 Seoul Games of The Olympiad Poster ]
The official poster of the Olympic Games was a simple and restrained design using the computer graphics CG which was the latest technique at that time. This official poster represents the ideal of the Olympic Games, which combines two images to show “harmony and progress” and expresses the five rings that symbolize the pure Olympic spirit in bright colors for an eternal peaceful illumination of the world. The figure of the runner carrying the Olympic torch symbolized the development of human happiness and prosperity. (International Olympic Committee)
Something on My Note
62 years after Lissitzky’s daynamic poster, a Japanes computer graphic designer made this poster. I can not find any reference or information how the designer made this poster. One thing is clear, despite the fact that The Olympic Game was an international event held in Korea, but the poster design was designed by a Japanes Designer, Because, at that time, Korea’s graphic design technology was not enough to form such an image.
Even though the Japanese designer could have done a good job of borrowing the dynamic image and meaning from Lissitzky’s poster, why did not Korean reproduce the form that was possible 62 years ago in Korea? We have to ask to ourselves ‘not to limit our own possiblity by admiring the enormous technological power and infinite possibilities of CG.
Naef, Weston J., Sandra Phillips, and David Travis. André Kertész: Of Paris and New York. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985. no. 124, p. 205.
Hambourg, Maria Morris. The New Vision: Photography between the World Wars, Ford Motor Company Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1989. no. 79.
La Ville Magique. Lille, France: Lille Métropole Musée d’Art Moderne d’Art Contemporain et d’Art Brut, 2012. p. 212, fig. 24.
Nakamori, Yasufumi. Utopia / Dystopia: Construction and Destruction in Photography and Collage. Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2012. pp. 77, 84-85 & 110, fig. 27.
The background image for this photomontage (the cityscape) is a photograph of Times Square by Knud Lonberg-Holm, which is reproduced in Cahiers d’Art, No.3, March 1926, p.60 and Erich Mendelsohn’s “Amerika,” 1926, pl. 44.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – collections
Speaking of the Art Nouveau, it is one of the most influential art movement in mid-19th century. It originated in London and has been successfully practiced in the areas of furniture, jewelry, book design, and illustration. and poster illustration shows the most unique feature of Art Nouveau. These posters usually have one or several distinctive characters, the performance of irregular shapes, soft lines, and variety of color. This style influences future designers, who learn and incorporate this style into their work.
Jules Chéret is one of the most famous designers in the late nineteenth century, and he is also considered as the originator of the art lithographic posters. During that time period, New commercials and posters often used women as the main character, to achieve more attention from the male group in general public. The image above is a poster created by Jules Chéret,shows an American dancer Loie Fuller. The dark background colour has made a very effective contrast with the woman figure’s bright, warm color, which shows the movement and also emphasize the elegant of the figure. In this poster Chéret didn’t add thick outlines on the woman figure, trying to make the figure more natural, and more real.
Absintbe Robette is a poster created by the French illustrator Privat Livemont. This poster is pretty similar than the Chéret’s poster. The two posters are all included women figures, dressed in very thin and soft clothes. By using the light green as the background colour, creates a romantic feeling to the whole poster. However, the arrangement of the font is very different. Chart’s poster used sans-serif typefaces, and a very eye-catching color, red as the title. Different from that, Livemont insert the fonts into the entire illustration, creates an absolute coordination of the fonts and illustrations, which could let the viewer feels very harmonious. the choice of typeface in the Livefont’s poster seems to be influenced by Chéret’s use of sans serif typeface, because the sans serif typeface is more elegant, and could create more variations to fit with the women figure.
the Inspiration of the design could always been seek from the successful creations in the past. Even in modern day, there are still many designs clearly influenced by the art style from previous time period.
For this blog post I’ve chosen Julius Klinger’s 8th War Loan poster c. 1917. This poster comes from the WW1 era of propaganda posters and depicts a snake-like monster caught in the eight full of harpoons. The colour evokes toxicity in what is represented as the “enemy” while the eight represents the aggressors and power through the use of red. This poster through its visual elements evokes a lot of movement, to be more specific, the word “squirming” comes to mind, the subject is caught and trapped, trying to escape. If the piece were to come to life I would imagine that the creature shown would be swaying back and forth violently, which would be the intended purpose of the poster and in that respect I think it is successful.
S: It is an honour today to be here with Alvin Lustig. As you had a very successful career in graphic design and art direction. Your contributions to the design of books and your teachings would have made you a credible candidate for the AIGA Lifetime Achievement award. The work is principles of modern art to graphic design that had a long-term influence on contemporary practice. Having exhibition at The Composing Room Gallery, in New York, the exhibits on view and the installation would be remarkably fresh, particularly in terms of the current trends in art-based imagery. Well, what if your definition of Graphic Design?
A: Process of visual communication design, is the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content. The form it takes can be physical or virtual and can include images, words or graphics. I intend to move things around until they look right and I suspect that’s a good definition of Graphic Design.
S: Can you describe how do you first design?
A: When I was 21, became a freelance printer and typographer doing jobs on a letter-press that I kept in the back room of a drugstore. I start to create abstract geometric designs using type ornaments, using ornamental typeface. But, a year later I abandoned printing to concentrate on graphic design. (laughs) Fun fact, I was a magician as a kid, all sorts of the magic will change the ways of seeing and thinking. Being a rebellious kid, I would just skip class and practice magic.
S: Woah, you as a kid already had the potential becoming an artist, and getting inspired by being a magician.
A: Oh your right. Magic has always a special place in my mind. The job of a magician is to deceive, trick their audience and provide them with an alternate reality. Anyways, continuing the previous question… Later on, I joined The Los Angeles Society for Contemporary Designer. I create many book jackets for visual poetry and modern typographic explorations. After, I start to work on architectural and interior design practice, and a number of industrial design commissions for lighting fixtures, fabrics and furniture.
S: Can you describe your style, like a good friend of yours, would describe it?
A: I’m not really fond of paintings. It’s just way too subjective, and design would emerge as a primary art form. But I do inspire from paintings and integrated the abstract sensibility
S: Can you describe one of the earlier book jackets you worked on?
A: In my earlier work I created monuments of ingenuity and objects of aesthetic pleasure. I recall one of the projects done earlier is to design an American book jacket in 1949, a paperback cover for Lorca: 3 Tragedies. I included fragmented images, photo illustration, and minimal typography. Colours are in black and white. A grid of five symbolic photographs linked in poetic disharmony.
S: Did you get uninterested working on book covers?
A: No, I wanted to be a designer, not just designing book covers. Being a designer/artist should explore in different fields and find what interest you the most. But I still enjoy to produce and create book jackets, and magazine covers. I believed that the book jacket should become the American equivalent of glorious European poster tradition.
Have you ever done a collaboration with other artists?
A: Of course for my photo-illustrations, done in collaboration with other many photographers and other American designers. You would learn whole different experiences. I had also collaborated with my wife Elaine Lustig Cohen before. She is one of the successful women in graphic design. You should also check out her work!
S: Do you have any advice for younger designer and artist out
A: Honestly you have to work like hell, you can’t just suddenly become famous without constantly working hard all your life. It is not an easy way to earn your money. The most fundamental way of understanding the visual work is through the act of drawing. Young designers except for the fact that it requires consistent devotion and practice. The richness of understanding comes from the deep historical, philosophical idea.