Month: March 2014

Imagery and type: thoughtful placement

It can be said that great designs stand out because every inch has been carefully crafted. Maybe it was the deliberate and careful use of color, texture, and type in a visual assault from edge to edge. Or maybe the successful layout employed negative space to frame the important parts. Whatever the style, thoughtful placement can create some stunning work.

Here are some designers who combine imagery and type in fantastic ways. Observe how they consider every inch of the page, from the loud attention  grabbing elements to the quiet, subtle background elements.

Paula Scher

Paula Scher designed the Citi logo and is known for her typographic assault style of design.

Wolfgang Weingart

Wolfgang Weingart is known for his ability to deconstruct traditional type and layouts, and create something new and vibrant with his investigative approach.

Louise Fili

Louise Fili is known for the distinct classic feel of her work. Fili uses a generous amount of ornament, texture, and pattern, and leaves nothing unturned in her personally crafted type.

Tadanori Yokoo

Tadanori Yokoo is a design pioneer who greatly influenced the graphic design world. His unique style has opened up a whole new world of possibilities in the realm of poster design.



Fundamental principles of design

Here are some fundamental principles of design when creating a layout:

Dominance. Your main focal point. Once you know your focal point, consider hierarchy.

Hierarchy. With your focal point selected, think about how you will want to guide the viewer’s eyes through the layout. Good hierarchy is often achieved with scale (sizing things differently). Once you have this decided, consider space.

Space. Space is all about how things are positioned on the page. This includes their physical location, as well as the space between things. Items that are spaced close together are seen as related/similar to each other. For instance, related information might do well placed together. Once you have spacing decided, consider balance.

Balance. There are two kinds of balance a good design can have: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical layouts are very clean and tidy, but can also be perceived as stiff. Asymmetrical layouts may not seem balanced at first, but a smart variety of scale, space, and color can achieve a much more dynamic sense of balance than a symmetrical layout. As you balance items in your layout, consider gestalt.

Gestalt. I have discussed gestalt in a previous post. Gestalt is set of theories that explain how visuals are perceived as wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts. Simply put, gestalt isn’t just about the things on the page, but about perception and how the eye moves and makes connections. As you employ gestalt, consider unity.

  • Unity. Perhaps the most important of these seven principles, unity makes the elements of a design feel like they belong together. This can be through spatial relationships (alignment, gestalt), rhythm (hierarchy, flow), and/or repetition (texture, color).
  • Color. Last, but certainly not least, color is a vital part of any design. Whether your design includes a wide spectrum of colors, or is created with pensive grayscale, color communicates the emotions present in a design. As you incorporate color into your poster, consider not just the hue, but the tone (light/dark) and intensity (saturation/desaturation).

Poster designers

Poster Design

There are many styles of posters to match the many reasons behind their creation. Some rely on heavily manipulated photography, while others employ abstract shapes and textures. Some have wild, flamboyant typography, while others have crisp and clean organization. The following designers are known for their iconic concert posters.

Mike Klay

Mike Klay creates stunning vector illustrations in his concert posters. By restricting the color palette for each poster, Klay is able to deliver a laser sharp focus on the message at hand. Far from stiff, Klay’s typography is structured yet expressive, and always inventive. Klay has designed posters for Billy Idol, The Crystal Method, Helmet, Symian Mobile Disco, and many more.

Rex Ray

Rex Ray is both a designer and artist, creating work for myriad purposes. His concert posters are much acclaimed for their exciting colors and multiple levels of stimulating detail. Ray has designed posters for music icons Iggy Pop, B-52s, and Jane’s Addiction, as well as more modern artists like Beck, Bjork, and Oasis.

Bonnie MacLean

Bonnie MacLean, like Rex Ray, is both a designer and artist. Her concert posters are synonymous with the 1960s aesthetic. The organic, flowing curves and elastic type, combined with capricious but memorable color palettes, are as invigorating today as they were decades ago. MacLean designed posters for Jefferson Airplane, the Byrds, The Doors, and Pink Floyd, among other noteworthy acts.


Dan Kuhlken and Nathan Goldman, the creative forces behind DKNG, have an envious client list that includes Warner Brothers, HBO, MTV, and Taco Bell. When they aren’t developing amazing work for these clients, they’re focusing on promotional material for Eric Clapton, The Black Keys, Dave Matthews Band, Cake, and many more. Their modern illustration style, clean typography, and silky smooth color palettes are relevant and gripping for today’s audiences.

Designing a logo

The Logo has various elements consisting of type, graphics, and a range of colors. Here are some tips for designing a logo.


Type is a powerful tool especially when it matches the feel of the company. Will thick and chunky be appropriate, or tall and thin? How about round and playful, or passionate and delicate? You aren’t limited to the fonts already installed on your computer, you can download fonts online or even create your own.


For the graphic element(s) of your logo, start by drawing forms or arranging shapes to get the results you want. Your knowledge of logos is helpful. Think about what makes a logo memorable and where you draw your inspiration from.


Lastly, think about color. Flat, bold, strong hues that will communicate your brand’s message in an instant. Is it fun or serious? Hot or cold? Fast or pensive? Some logos employ only one color, some have 2 or 3.