Product Design in the Textbook – Michael Zhang

Stephen J. Eskilson’s Graphic Design: A New History does an excellent job of discussing the developments in graphic design from the past, to the present. Providing insightful information on various mediums, specific artists and artworks, and their corresponding backgrounds. The history of graphic design as a whole is so vast that it would simply be impossible to cover it in its entirety. After a thorough investigation of the book, I have found there to be a particular topic that Eskilson has missed in his discussion.

An area of graphic design that the textbook seems to be lacking in is graphic design in actual commercial use. A large portion of the book focuses on graphic design in advertisements and posters for various products, however, there is no focus on the actual product itself. When it comes to advertising, what catches attention is initially the advertisement, but what retains it is the physical product. If the ad is captivating but the product lacks in design, there is a lower chance for the product to be purchased.

There are several instances in graphic design history where the design of the product is actually the driving force in its success. Probably the most recognizable one to date would be the Campbell Soup can design. While it did not gain its popularity from the design alone, it was a crucial factor in catching the attention of Andy Warhol, who was the one to extend it to the masses as a work of art.

Andy Warhol. Campbell's Soup Cans. 1962 | MoMAWarhol Campbell's Soup Can Mini Series 2 : Case of 24 - myplasticheart

Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Can 1962

For the most part, graphic design for advertisements resides on a two-dimensional plane, usually coming in the form of a poster in a newspaper. When looking at the design of the actual product, there is a physical element to it that adds more depth and complexity to the art. Artists would have to consider the shape of the product as well as its functionality and come up with an interesting way to sell it to customers. There are also physical restrictions that artists would have to work around, and by looking at the product, the viewer could extrapolate on how they overcame those impediments.

I believe product design has a lot more to offer in terms of studying graphic design when compared to advertisements. It would be a good addition to add a section on this in the textbook since it allows the reader to gain a better sense of the design process and ideation through its physical design, as oppose to simply interpreting the artist’s intentions from a poster.

 

Trends in Marvel Movie Logos – Michael Zhang

Within the past decade, Marvel Studios has taken the world by storm. Their title logos instantly recognizable by fans and non-fans alike. But how were they able to create such iconic works of graphic design? Looking back at the last decade we can see development in design trends and creative approaches to the popular superhero movies.

Phase One movies of the MCU

Dating back to the year 2008, movies like ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Iron Man’ lit the flame of superhero movie popularity. They were the first majorly successful big-screen adaptations of the original comics. However, their title logos did not reflect those origins. Design-wise, these movies did not associate much with their comic counterparts. Marvel took a different approach with hopes to create a brand that would extend further than the comics.

The earlier movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe all showcased a rather simplistic design, following a similar template of strictly typographic elements with a flat and simple design, set on a black backdrop. Marvel also seems to favour the look of bold, blocky typefaces which can be seen in most of the movie logos. The colour palettes as well, sticking to a mainly red and silver look, to represent the Marvel brand.

As Marvel grew increasingly popular, their designs have also become more outgoing and ambitious. “’ There’s been a global design shift towards simpler, cleaner, ‘flat’ design in recent years so, it’s interesting to see this going in the opposite direction,’ points out award-winning typographic designer Craig Ward” (Maine). Newer designs stray away from the flat look for more 3D and texture, which make them pop on the standard black background. Movies like ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ incorporate texture into the typography to bring a fresh new look while giving some hints as to the film characters and plot.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Black Panther (2018)

Now that Marvel has successfully established its name in the film industry, their designs have come full circle. Many of the new and upcoming movies have designs modelled after their original comics. The logo for the films ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Inhumans’ both have designs that look identical to their comic book titles which are also a nice nod to their original designers.

The Captain Marvel logotype is based on Jared K Fletcher’s original design
The Inhumans logotype is based on the 1998 comic logo by JG Roshell

Marvel is constantly finding new ways to appeal to their audiences through design, and are not afraid to try different styles. As time passes, they also evolve to raise the bar and bring something new and interesting to the table.

Phase 4 of the MCU

Works Cited

Maine, Sammy. “7 Key Typographic Trends in Marvel Movie Logos.” Creative Bloq, Creative Bloq, 18 July 2017, www.creativebloq.com/features/7-key-typographic-trends-in-marvel-movie-logos.