Creative Synesthesia – Sidney Tran

Creative Synesthesia

Sidney Tran


Background Information

The art movement I have decided to translate its visual qualities into another sense is cubism. Cubism is a highly influential visual arts movement of the 20th century that was developed by the artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in Paris between 1907 and 1914. Cubism emphasized the flat, two-dimensional surface of the picture plane, rejecting the traditional techniques of perspective, foreshortening, modelling and chiaroscuro, and reject theories that are should imitate nature. Cubist painters were not fond of copying form, texture, colour and space. Instead, they conveyed a new vision in paintings that reflected completely fragmented objects (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2017).

The particular cubist painting I am going to be translating into a taste is Guernica by Pablo Picasso. This is Picasso’s most famous work and is his most powerful political statement. The painting reflects his reaction to the Nazi’s casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Guernica reflects the tragedies of war and the suffering it causes upon individuals, in particular innocent civilians (

Guernica by: Pablo Picasso


Below is a recipe that translates the visual qualities of Guernica into a taste.

Dark Roast Coffee Cake 


10 cups of ground dark roast coffee

1 cup of cinnamon

2 eggs beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup of milk

1 tsp sugar

1 cup flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 cup salt


  1. In a large mixing bowl. Combine eggs, vanilla and milk together.
  2. In a medium bowl, blend together sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ground dark roast coffee.
  3. Combine egg mixture with flour mixture. Pour the batter into a pan.
  4. Bake, uncovered at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

How the visual qualities of Guernica are expressed in taste

For my recipe, I decided to use 10 cups of ground dark roast coffee to reflect the dark and bitter times the innocent civilians of Guernica suffered through during the Spanish Civil War. The colours in this work are also dark with no vibrant colours, so I wanted to reflect it by how dark roast coffee is really bitter and bold with a lack of sweet or flavourful taste to it. If the work had some colour in it, I think it would have a lot of bold flavourful tastes to it. But since it’s dark, I believe it would taste bitter. Cubist artworks are entirely fragmented as well, so I reflected this idea through how my ingredients don’t make rational sense considering some ingredients are used way more than others and creates an unbalanced/unpleasant taste. Cubist works reject formal principles of design and I conveyed this idea through the imbalance of ingredients, which creates an unpleasant taste. The unpleasant taste reflects the unpleasant feelings the innocent civilians suffered through during the Spanish Civil War. There is very little sugar used in the recipe to reflect how not a lot of “sweet” stuff went on during the war, since people were dying and suffering. The 1 cup of cinnamon reflects the figure with both arms raised up, burning in what looks like fire in the very right side of the work. The taste of cinnamon reflects this because it has sort of spicy taste to it, which symbolizes fire since it is hot.


Creative Synesthesia – Edwina Mui

Art Nouveau , or “New Art”is the new style that was created in the latter part of the nineteenth century which European believed that the world was fostered by the Industrial Revolution.  It is inspired by the natural form of objects, such as the curves from plants.

France Macdonald, A Pond, 1892.
Watercolor. Glasgow School of Art.

This art piece, A Pond, is by artist Frances Macdonald, which is one of her first work and was published in The Magazine.  The Magazine is a journal that organized by a group of progressive students.  A Pond is a water-colour work that combines curved shaped figures and water plants symmetrically. Despite the textual element, the left and right side are mirror images. 

Imagine this art piece as a hotdog, the canvas is the bun and the water plants and self portraits is the sausage, which is the main soul of a hotdog.  The decorative text on two sides are ketchup and mustard that are here to enhance the flavor.  If you fold this artwork in half, it is a hotdog that is delicious and ready to serve!


Eskilson, Stephen John. Graphic design: a new history. Conn., 2012.

Creative Synesthesia

How would graphic design sound, smell or taste like?

The Art Nouveau movement was the influential movement in France during the 19th Century. The term “Art Nouveau,” translates to english as “New Art,” and has reached across the globe. The subject matter is decorative, organic designs that derive from classic and rococo paintings, with crisp, simplified figures. This movement widespread to America, England, and Belgium, and Art Nouveau became boldly known for its asymmetry and flat colours. Art Nouveau changed the way the world looks at illustration, art and design, and can be  successfully applied to the concept of synesthesia.


by Jules Chéret

Jules Chéret’s  work “Le Loie Fuller,” 1893, is a lithographic print of the infamous dancer Loie Fuller. Chéret is considered to be “the originator of the artistic lithographic poster,” and  he successfully utilizes the principles of design to create an illusion of synesthesia in this piece. First, colour plays an important role; the combination of bright flowing oranges and greens contrast against the black background and their loose placement shows a repetition of movement around the figure. This creates the synesthesia of being able to hear this woman’s movement, specifically the movement of her clothing. The colour harmony of black, orange, yellow, red and black balances out and would create the taste of citrus due to that flowing composition. Additionally, the placement of the figure against the background provides a level sense of unity in the piece. The movement in this piece is crucial to convey due to the the fact that this is an ad for a dancer. The colours, which imply taste, must be refreshing and inviting to the eyes. Overall this iconic print invites the viewer in and allows them to feel the senses through line, colour, repetition, movement and overall unity.


Creative Synesthesia- Jhenny Castillo

Creative Synesthesia-Jhenny Castillocheret_jules_-_la_loie_fuller_pl_73

Jules Chéret Le Loie Fuller poster

Folies-Bergère, Paris, 1893

Jules Chéret’s Le Loie Fuller poster created in 1893 explores an intricate adaptation of design principles through hierarchy, balance, typography, repetition, and space. As a whole, Chéret’s poster expresses a prominent, organized and abrupt hierarchal layout. The hierarchy highlights and contrasts the colors shown on the poster. Specific colors within this piece correspond in harmonies with one another— just as the muted green in the shadows juxtapose the corresponding colors of red, orange, and yellow vibrantly displaying within the main figure. The qualitative features of the poster contribute towards the form and balance in a uniform style that distributes an asymmetrical piece cohesively. From a typographic facet, the text on top is simplified, however, the text on the bottom” Le Loie Fuller” poster contains tension from the foot of the main figure. And lastly the space within the composition can be described as a blank untouched area that surrounds the main figure, these features allow the composition’s contrast to stand out more with the flow of the figure’s line work and movement, thus creating a consistent piece.

In this case, these principles of design of the poster can also translate into sight, hearing, taste smell and touch.  Its hierarchal layout and typography sound like a snare drum’s solo that creates sharp, consistent yet rhythmic beat that structures the composition of the poster in an organized and consistent manner. The colors further impact the movement of the piece and vibrate gracefully like that of an angel’s voice, soft yet so strong. Colors in this composition create various harmonies of voices flowing together like an acapella.  The red is depicted as a bright and vibrant cherry tomato, a flavor filled with organic and fresh goodness like no artificial flavor can ever obtain. Orange and yellow contain a crispy appearance like bell peppers with a captivating and tempting crunch biting into it. All these vegetables are juxtaposed with green leafy greens in a basket that came hand picked off the farm. This piece provides a garden-fresh yet uniform scent that creates a statement of reliability and consistency. Yet, the darkness surrounds these descriptions as if it were a frame of an unending pit, feelings of tension and uncertainty. Touch within the figure almost feels too antique and valuable in the confident strokes and movement, seeing it as an untouched field of flowers.


Works Cited

Chéret, Jules. “Jules Chéret. Folies-Bergère, La Loïe Fuller (Loïe Fuller at the Folies-Bergère). 1893 | MoMA.” The Museum of Modern Art,

Miller Joji. Youtube , Jan 20, 2018 , Web. Jan 27, 2018 <>

Design Inspiration

Design Inspiration

The sans serif typeface was designed in 19th century as the second picture shown. According to the font’s self-meaning in French, “sans serif” means without serif which is the characteristic of this typeface. The radnika typeface is a later modern font which supports certain languages, including Basic Latin, Western European, Euro, Baltic, Turkish, Central European, Romanian, Pan African Latin, and Pinyin. It is convinced that the radnika typeface is inspired by the sans serif typeface somehow, because these two fonts share several similar features. For example, the radnika font has no serifs anywhere in its design as the sans serif font does. In addition, it fairly has little or no differences for the strokes in every single letter. This is a prominent feature in sans serif typeface as well. The distance in radnika’s strokes for all letters are roughly equal; the head for some letters are flat, such as “k”, “d”, “i” and so on. Overall, it effectively indicates that the radnika typeface is inspired by the sans serif typeface, since they are similar in lots of characteristics.




Pradil, Alfredo Marco. “Radnika™ Typeface.” Behance, 24 Mar. 2016,

Farley, Jennifer. “The Sans Serif Typeface.” SitePoint, SitePoint, 16 Oct. 2009,

Imaginary Interview with Alphonse Mucha

Q: Today we are here with the iconic artist most notable during the Art Nouveau period of 1890-1910, Alphonse Mucha. In your early career as an artist, you were just illustrating for magazines and advertisements until your big break with “Gismonda”. Could you tell us a bit about that job?

Poster for "Gismonda", Alphonse Mucha 1894
Poster for “Gismonda”, Alphonse Mucha 1894

A: Well, Sarah was a popular French stage actress and my biggest muse. I first met her in 1894 when I was still illustrating for odd jobs. She called the printing company I was helping out at demanding a rush order for a poster for her new production, “Gismonda”. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time for me, since all the regular artists were out on vacation and I was like a last resort to get the job done. Needless to say, the poster jump started my career and the rest is history.

Q: What do you think it is that made your work stand out from the crowd of other Parisian artists?

A: I believe my style to be very eye-catching due to the limited palette, flat colours, and of course, the organic and floral motifs combined with beautiful women. My style is very new and unique for the time, and I’m sure will carry on for years to come.

Q: Why do you rely so heavily on featuring women in your work?

A: During this time, society was very masculine and harsh. I wanted to go against that with the complete opposite: femininity, beauty, and sex appeal. They add another element of delicacy and felinity to the floral motif.

Q: Would you ever considering featuring men in your work?

A: Like I said, I don’t want to add to the macho images of men fighting in wars at the time, but I did do some nationalist pieces later in my career: “Poster for the 8th Sokol Festival Prague 1926” in 1925 uses my typical style of organic and floral images, but is not as successful with depictions of strong men instead of dainty women.

"Poster for the 8th Sokol festival Prague 1926", Alphonse Mucha 1925
“Poster for the 8th Sokol festival Prague 1926”, Alphonse Mucha 1925

Q: What would you say to critics that refer to your work as shallow or simply decorative, like with your series “The Flowers” in 1898?

"The Flowers", Alphonse Mucha 1897
“The Flowers”, Alphonse Mucha 1897

A: Decorative, perhaps. I believe art should add beauty to the world. I’ve heard critics accuse me of using women as just another form of decoration along with the flowers, but I disagree. My style is best suited for elegant images, not crowded streets or a day in the park like my counterparts. I want to walk the street and see my posters adding beauty to the sidewalk. If art is ugly, who would want it?

Q: Why would you want your artwork to be featured on commercial or household products instead of galleries?

A: I want beauty to be in people’s everyday lives, not just for the rich that can afford it. I believe that art can improve peoples lives and morals. Even if there is no deeper meaning behind a piece, just looking at something stunning can lift one’s spirits and inspire them to add something positive to the world. Why should only a select few people get to experience something amazing?

Q: Why do you think your art is suited for graphic design?

A: Although my pieces are very ornamental and detailed, they still feature some very graphic elements, like the bold line work and flat colours. I keep the design elements in mind as I go about creating an illustration, and keep typography in mind. For company products, I always incorporate the company’s name or initials in the background so that the piece is unified.

Q: What kind of products have your designs been featured on?

A: Almost anything! I am most known for my posters and advertisements, but I did a lot of work for perfume bottles and biscuit wrappers. Imitations of my work have also been seen on other household products like tea and soap. My style makes these products stand out on a shelf in the shop, which makes the company happy, thus making me very happy!

Q:  Which product do you feel featured your best work?

A: That would have to be a piece i did for JOB cigarette papers. It featured my signature floral motifs and beautiful woman, combined with the smoke of a cigarette. But she’s not just puffing away like a chimney–she appears sensual and alluring, with the smoke and her hair flowing around her. It was so elegant that the viewer would forget that it was for a cigarette company!

"JOB", Alphonse Mucha 1896
“JOB”, Alphonse Mucha 1896

Q: Your work was seen everywhere during your time, and even saw its revival during the 1960’s Art Nouveau revival. The style was and still is unique, distinguishable, and of course, beautiful.



Works Cited

Alphonse Mucha Artist Overview and Analysis”. [Internet]. 2018.
Content compiled and written by Jen Farren
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Ellen Hurst
Available from:
[Accessed 12 Jan 2018

Foundation, Mucha. “Poster for “Gismonda” – Sarah Bernhardt.” Mucha Foundation,

Rowland, Hazel. “More to Mucha than meets the eye – or is there?” Apollo Magazine, 1 Nov. 2016,


What would a graphic design sound like? Or smell like? Or taste like? Or feel like? Or move like?

Synesthesia is the condition where one physical sensation evokes another; it is often described as hearing color or tasting shapes. Choose a historical graphic design that is representative of a style or movement (such as Art Nouveau, Swiss style, psychedelic, etc.) and translate its visual characteristics and principles into another sense (sound, movement, taste, smell, or touch). Include a paragraph explaining how the visual qualities of the style or movement are expressed in another sense.

Here’s something to inspire you (click on the link):

Fortunato Depero, Simultaineita' Giroplastiche, 1914
Fortunato Depero, Simultaineita’ Giroplastiche, 1914

How has historical graphic design influenced later design?

First, show a typical example of an influential historical design or style. Then, show an example that is inspired by the first example (it can even be your own work). Include an explanation of how and why the later design is inspired by the earlier design.

Here’s an example (visuals only) to inspire you:

Hans Neuburg, Konstruktive Grafik poster, 1958
Hans Neuburg, Konstruktive Grafik poster, 1958
Mike Joyce (Swissted), Killing Joke poster, 1982
Mike Joyce (Swissted), Killing Joke poster, 1982

Which historical designer would you most like to interview?

“Interview” a graphic designer from the past about one of their projects, getting the facts about the commission, noting the project’s restrictions and requirements, as well as the designer’s intentions, viewpoint, and thoughts on their product. The interview should be approximately 750 words (in Q & A format) and include relevant images.

Here’s an inspiration:

Miguel Covarrubias, "Impossible Interview: Stalin Versus Schiaparelli," June, 1936
Miguel Covarrubias, “Impossible Interview: Stalin Versus Schiaparelli,” June, 1936

Can you summarize a historical period in a six-word design?

Choose an era (such as the Victorian period, WWII, the 1960s, etc.) and summarize it in six meaningful words whose design accurately evokes the era.

Here’s your inspiration:

Arthur C. Clarke told this anecdote about his friend, the famous short-story author Ernest Hemingway.  Hemingway was bet $10 that he could not write a story in only six words. This is what Hemingway wrote: