Project 4 (Time and place) – Exercise 1

The next big thing

I chose to search for a piece of graphic design in Pinterest because this platform is part of the contemporary way of looking for visual references and I felt this related to the exercise. After looking through many, many examples and noticing certain common tendencies, I chose a poster by In the pool that I think is a good example of contemporary visual communication.

Paris Climat, 2015, In the pool

I see two very strong styles found in most contemporary design pieces; they are either very minimal or very crowded. The one I chose belongs to the latter category. Some things that characterise it as ‘new’ include its:

  • bold, neon colors
  • playful illustrations vs. clean, serious typography
  • use of many patterns, lines, textures
  • wild composition in background vs. centred, justified text
  • use of digital elements vs. collage

These are some elements that, when combined, might characterise what a contemporary poster looks like. Many designers seem to be especially fond of creating contrasts of style and media within a single piece, such as hand-made illustrations and typography combined with photography or playful elements alongside more formal ones.

This use of patterns and textures seems influenced by historical references such as Henri Matisse’s collages and the Arts and Crafts Movement. The bold, almost neon colors might come from a more recent influence arising from urban nightlife and vibrant digital color palettes.

Seeing as there is so much information available, we are prone to dedicate less time and attention to each source of information. This means that contemporary visual communication pieces must communicate their message as quickly or as boldly as possible so that viewers are able to either get the gist of it right away or decide to pay careful attention; I think this is the reason why minimalism is re-emerging (quick, direct messages) and why posters with illustrations, hand-written typography and collages are very abundant (uniqueness, invites a slower reading).

From the poster I have chosen, I think some of the elements that might age soon are its colors and the way that the text is displayed. As more and more designs make use of neon, bold, and/or loud colors, I think designers will need to go back to more toned-down or neutral palettes in order to stand out. The way that the text is divided, though ‘cool-looking’, impairs legibility a little a bit.

I feel the need to add that I’ve seen many examples of visual communication from the past century until today and they all find a way to work regardless of style or current trends; they all share, at their essence, common elements of design.


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