me stuff

according to recent research… posts above 1500 characters (say 250 words) don’t get read, oh well… i’ll write this down just for myself then

the images shown here were used to introduce my talk at the dutch ‘thater poster awards’ debate evening this year

the participants were asked to bring a couple of images, but i couldn’t choose so i packed lots of images onto several slides…

the general question we were asked to discuss was ‘trends or developments in poster design’ next to designers ‘anton beeke’ ‘annelys de vet’ and myself there were two clients ‘benien van berkel’ (head of marketing holland festival) and a lady (whose name i unfortunately cannot remmeber) responsible for marketing at the springdance festival, so the discussion inevitably turned towards the ever-dominant role of marketing in projects and the assumed freedom a designer feels he should have in designing a culutral poster…a debate exsists by the grace of there being two opposing views but we were perhaps pushed somewhat into two opposing camps: clients versus designers, which isn’t really a true picture of course

i started by showing the two top images and posed the question what is the definition of a poster? the left image was a barred window left behind by squatters evicted from a building and the right image was on a building site, neither strictly adhere to the definition of a poster but in my view both images are strong visual metaphors that communicate a message, the second slide shows a series of posters i shot around amsterdam during the summer, all use a portrait as an image and all look worringly similar to each other… i say worryingly because three of them are mine… the reason, perhaps, is that faces always work very well as a singular image for a poster and also are a very safe ‘commercial’ genre of image, the point i wanted to make is that in some ways marketing seems to have taken too strong a grip on poster design (at least in my environment) i said that i felt we needed to try to create a climate where there is more room for abstraction and the ‘unsaid’ in poster design, in short we have become too rational in our thinking and subsequently in the way we design, a theater poster typically depicts the actors or the narrative, whatever happened to artistic interpretation? designers used to be involved as part of the creative process, but somehow they have become a separate entity whose role is merely to generate awareness and sales, the lower images were two examples of posters that caught my eye, precisely because they are abstract images that don’t directly explain what they are communicating but rather trigger your curiosity and invite you to learn more…

this article is unfinished i will continue writing it in the coming few days… (saturday 13th october)

part two: 21st october

the folowing series of images are a compilation of examples plucked from various internet sites, showing the diversity of interpretations on what a poster represents (or can be) amongst the latest generation of designers… on the one hand the poster has becone a platform for designer self-promotion and has thereby lost it’s functional role to some degree and has become a decorative art form (see this article by alice twemlow’ on design obserever amongst the examples shown were again several examples of designs that are not strictly posters but in my opinion illustrate some interesting new ideas and possibilities for the poster as a means of communication in the public domain… british design group thoughtful for example devised a poster campaign for the economist which would be placed on the roofs of buildings so that it would eventually end up in the satellite images intended for use in google earth, an as yet unrealised idea, but an inspiring one, in my opinion… the images lower right are called the ‘unhomies’ (created by jarr geerligs) a series of characters he devised and photographed by placing cartoon eyes on rubbish in the street, technically not a poster but again… what is a poster these days?

the top section of the lower set of images shows some examples of techniques that seem to be in vogue at the moment, i find trends a terrible term… the posters showing the large figure ‘6’ are a series that experiment with the role and techniques of type and imagery, the typography is a three dimensional background in front of which a series of photos have been shot so that the whole image is presented in one combined layer, not necessarily a new idea but a quick scan around websites of young designers reveals an increased interest in experimentation of ‘layering’ and the physical manifestation of typography perhaps this is a result of the dominant use of photoshop and flash in graphic design, the way we create imagery affects the way we perceive it and hence represent it… structure?

update final section added 28th october

the following set are a simple series that do not attempt to be great ‘graphic design’ posters, instead they rely heavily on an ‘idea’ of sorts: a die-cut of an animal on a white sheet that is then placed on a wall or a tree of any surface that looks similar to the structure of the animal being depicted on the poster, a simple execution that has a lot of ‘charm’ i am seeing a lot of this kind of experimentation with technique and material at the moment, perhaps not a new phenomenon but one that is seeing an increased following partly due to the amount of creatives that are not strictly designers but communicators who freely combine print/advertising/film and internet to convey a message in a fresh way…

the next slide is a compilation of some of the trends that i think can be recognised at the moment: geometrical and rounded (chubby) typefaces based on primary shapes, a return to bauhaus modernism and seventies esthetics… also primary colours and line rasters combined with transparency seem to be very in vogue… those flash line illustrations with lots of silhouetted figures and organic lines seem to be fading, it’s the kind of style that will look very dated in ten years time…

the final two posters are old ones for ‘holland festival’ designed by studio dumbar (an american designer edward macdonald i’m told) these i showed for two reasons, firstly they are the epitomy of dutch design to me, i found them very inspiring when i first saw them and still do… 20 years later, they are a good axample of design that manages to acheive a strong own style and aren’t ashamed to show the signature of the maker… they employ ‘staged-photography’ backgrounds (shot by lex van rossum) a typical late 80’s-early 90’s phenomenon, the type for the different programs was then, later screen-printed on, which gave the series a feeling of uniformity whilst retaining an individual look for each poster… great stuff: i also believe that these have aged very well and would still not look out of place even if used now… the second reason that i showed them was to ask if anybody in the audience could tell me where to find a set for sale at a reasonnable price! (i have only found them on sale for almost ?300 on internet) unfortunately nobody was able to help… any tips are welcome (see my e-mail address to the left)

well there you go 1300 words and way above the average length for a blog post that anybody is likely to read… i would be very interested to hear from anyone who was bored enough to read it all and has any comments, feel free to let me know what you think…

m / 13-10-2007 19:09

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