Paul Rand

Simon Page Poster Designs for IYA 2009

Simon Page is a self-taught graphic designer from the UK with an emphasis on typographic art, illustration and geometric design. Earlier this year he produced a series of posters for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA) campaign.

The posters like most of his work is brilliant in it’s simplicity and use of geometric form. The style reminds me of  that mid 60’s to mid 70’s period where international style had distilled itself down to basic elements and was being widely used in text book cover design. Seriously, these posters remind me so much of science book covers from Jr. Highschool. Page’s color pallet is refined and exquisite. There is an excellent sense of balance, and layout that is carried across every poster.He uses subtle textures in the backgrounds that gives an almost nostalgic sense of age and use. The typography treatments are understated, yet help to pull the entire composition together in each poster. These posters are really, really nice.

According to Page he is influenced by a number of contemporary designers like, Alex Trochut, Joshua Davis, and James White. I would go on to say I think he has been influenced if even unintentionally, by designers like Joseph Müller-Brockmann,  Emil Ruder, Paul Rand, and Armin Hofmann.

The full series of International Year of Astronomy 2009 posters are available for purchase via: Graphic design by Simon Page.

Design Friday. Everyone is Going Retro

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Recently while scanning the pages of  The New Yorker Fast Company or The Economist I’ve noticed a new series of advertisements for IBM’s “Conversations for a Smarter Planet” campaign. It’s a series of ads that tries to position IBM at the forefront of technological thinking, ironically by using some very retro design styling.

With the use of Swiss type styling, extensive white space and Paul Rand or Charlie Harper, inspired flat graphic illustrations, these ads look more like IBM circa 1964. The design thinking behind these is perhaps trying to evoke  a memory of when IBM was thought of as a more progressive company than they are now. The fact is that the target audience they are selling these ideas to was probably born in the 1970’s, and has no relation to the referenced design style here.


The idea of a “Conversations for a smarter planet” green campaign is well intentioned, the execution is clean and the over all design well done. There is a great use of color and the icons themselves look fantastic. From a design perspective I love them. From a brand advertising perspective I’m not so sure they work. Ad images are meant to be relevant and engaging, they need to grab your attention and pull you in. They help set up the editorial, and hopefully cause you to take additional action like visiting a website, buying a product, bonding with a brand. These images, although eye-catching,seem to lack relevance and will probably be lost on the target audience. The question for IBM is will your viewers take the time to figure out the meaning of an abstract icon, and will they relate it to what you are trying to sell? Looking at these images, I wonder if most readers will venture further and read the copy heavy ads. The highly stylized visual IBM is gets in the way of the communication rather than leading to it.


Now lets compare the IBM campaign to Shell’s recent “Energy Future” Print campaign. Shell uses the same flat graphic stylistic look as IBM, but Shell hits the mark. The illustrations are bold and colorful. They offer a touch of humor that helps pull you in and invites you to read rest of the ad copy, and more over they are easy to understand. These ads succeed in communicating the complexity of Shell’s innovations and help build the Shell brand via straightforward communication and an honest feel.


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Design Friday Follow Up

I posted work by Cristiana Courceiro just a bit ago, and I decided that I should do a follow up with a post about Bradbury Thompson.I probably should have done a side by side comparison of her work with not only Thompson’s but Jospeh Muller Brockmann, Herb Lubalin, and a slew of other well know designers whose work from the second half of the 20th century has had such an impact on designers today.

I’m posting Thompson’s work because:

A, he influenced so many designers at the time. Herb Lubalin, Paul Rand Etc.

B, he is from Kansas. Born in Topeka. Attended Washburn University. and;

C, because he continues to influence people today with his unique style and signature use of photography and color in his collage work.

In his own quiet way, he expanded the boundaries of the printed page and influenced the design of a generation of art directors. For fifteen years he was the Sr. Art Director for Mademoiselle Magazine beginning in 1945. Bradbury Thompson’s mark is impeccable taste applied with great elegance—an elegance of simplicity, wit, and vast learning—and an intimate knowledge of the process of printing, always with style, with informed taste. He is probably best known for the work he did for paper giant Westvaco