The Power of Poster Design

Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey

This week, one of my assignments is to write about design history.  I was especially interested in 1920s Russian Suprematism and Constructivism. Although both art movements were after WWI and started in Russian, but I thought the artists/designers at that time were facing the similar changes as we have it now in USA.

Our country has slip into two majors political views:capitalism and socialism.  Someone said, history repeats itself.  Have you see some of the posters design lately? Certainly, the design style has been reapplied to this modern time, and the designer of this poster gave us a new layer of meaning behind it.

If you are new to  the Russian art movements, let me give you a short introduction.


Looking back through the history of design, the 1920s (Industrial Society era) was a very interesting time in Russian history, as well as in design history. The1920s was the period of time that Russian artists divided into two ideological art movements: Suprematism and Constructivism.

Suprematism focuses on geometric forms and believes that the role of the artist should be to throw out the old order and conservative art. This movement was led by Kasimir Malevich. The suprematists devoted their effort to support the Red Army and the Bolsheviks, and produced massive propaganda posters.

Constructivism believes that the role of the artist is to serve the needs of society. Constructivists called on artists to stop producing useless things and advocated using art for practical applications. They devoted themselves to industrial design and visual communication. The movement, which was led by Vladimir Tatlin, later became one of the most influential ideologues for modern design.

The biggest patron for both art movements is Russian Government.


One of the most influential designers in this time period was a Russian Jew, EL Lissitzky. He was a multi-talented artist, typographer, architect, and designer. He was one of the most important figures of the Russian avant garde. His famous designs included 1925 advertisement designs for Pelikan Industries; the 1926 exhibition room for the International Kunstausstellung art show in Dresden, and displays for the official Soviet pavilions at the international exhibitions; the 1927 All-Union Polygraphic Exhibit in Moscow; the 1928 Press Show, a pavilion design revolving around the theme of a film show in USSR.

Lissitzky often used drafting instrument construction and paste up to achieve his designs. One of the most influential graphic designs was the book The Isms of Art 1914-1924.  In that book, he created the visual program for organizing information into a grid system, balancing white space, using halftones and large bold sans serif. He also explored the potential of montage and photomontage for complex communications messages.

The style in this period often used bold color, bold and large sans serif font, diagonal axis, asymmetrical balance, and photomontage. More poster usage examples can be found at Bolchevisks.






Some said, Shepard Fairey, the designer for the Obama Poster, challenges the traditional patriotic symbolism of the flag which has become and image of economic and military power that underlies this freedom we have. And both Fairey and Obama wanted to send a different message—a message of hope.

If you understand the history in that period, what do you think about the Obama’s Poster?  While I was writing my little essay, it got me interested in the little symbol on the poster—”Obama’s icon”—the rising sun.

Obama Symbol

Obama Symbol

Some said, it looks like a Pepsi logo, what do you think? One thing is certain, this icon has been broadly used, and it is the first time in US history that we have created a brand for the US president, Barack Obama.

Check this youtube video.  Whether you agreed or not, but you have to agree that we can’t ignore the power of design.

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Creative ads

Penline billboard- strong tape

Looking online for creative ads, and I ran into Penline, a Malaysian stationary company, I am not familiar with their products and brand, but Penline sure gave me a very strong impression about who they are and what they do best—Penline produces strong tape.

Penline delivered a strong message without using word.  Penline successfully delivered a clear message via the universal language: image and picture to convey the idea of “strong tape.”

The commercial titled STRONG TAPE was done by EURO RSCG PARTNERSHIP advertising agency for PENLINE ART SUPPLIES company in Malaysia. It was released in the March 2007. Business sector is Ambient: Special Build.

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Paper Made From Rock

Paper made from Rock

What are the bag options these day for us at the store? Plastic, paper, and cloth.  Now, you can have another option: Rock.  Yes.  This is crazy!  As a Taiwanese, when I read this article, I just can’t wait to share this with everyone.  They called it “The treeless paper.” It was manufactured in Taiwan and sold under the TerraSkin brand, is three parts recycled calcium carbonate—the same mineral in marble and limestone—and one part polyethylene binder. Production requires no water or bleach and only half the energy needed to make traditional paper. The material is durable; tote bags can be used over and over. It is also recyclable. And TerraSkin breaks down into a talcum-like powder if exposed to sunlight and humidity long enough.

The entire article is posted at business week.

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Hands Painting Advertising(Part II)

I also found some other ads campaigns that were taken the same approach as the AT & T ads campaign, such as Kimberly-Clark Professional and Secretaria Estadual Da Saúde. By comparing the details of the hands paintings, I do believe these two ads campaigns were done by other artists.

Kimberly-Clark Professional Ads campaign—Do you know what you wash your hands with

Secretaria Estadual Da Saúde ads Campaign—Your hands can be dangerous. Wash hands with soap with water to ensure that bacteria will not follow you

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Hands painting in Advertising (Part I)

Just had a cervical disk surgery few days ago; doctor’s order: don’t drive or ride a car for a month.  I got so much time with my laptop, and here is what I found about the Italian artist. Guido Daniele.  Guido Daniele is a body painting artist.  But his hands animal painting brought his fame.

I also found some other ads campaigns that were taken the same approach, such as Kimberly-Clark Professional and . By comparing the details of the hands paintings, I do believe the last two ads campaigns were done by other artists.

AT & T Ads Campaign—AT&T’s roaming capabilities

WWF Ads Campaign– Give a hand to wildlife

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Another Joomla

After I have finished my first Joomla CMS site redesign project for HauteSpot Networks, I was asked by a new start up company to develop a Web site for them in a week.  The start-up company has very little budget and very tide time line. They wanted to have a site that can expend and quickly be modified by authorized authors.  This is another project that is perfect for Joomla.

I recommended my client, MicroPower Technologies to consider using template so we can quickly deploy the content.  In order to reduce the cost and speed up the development, we used a commercial template; my client work on dumping the content to each section, and I reformatted it again so the look and feel are consistent.

The site was completed in a week.  For detail about this project please visit my portfolio.

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Sand Artist/Animator

I found this amazing.

Kseniya Simonova is a 24 years old Ukranian artist. She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and “sand painting” skills to interpret Germany’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII. She won Ukraine’s Got Talent 2009.  I don’ understand Ukrainian, but I was touched by her performance.
What do you think?

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Mona Lisa Made from 3,604 Coffee Cups

My dad sent me a link about Mona Lisa coffee cups today. Back in July 2009,  at the Aroma Festival at The Rocks in Sydney, Australia (an annual coffee festival), organizers used 3,604 cups of coffee — four shades using different amounts of coffee and milk — to make a replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Here’s a stop-motion video showing the production:

Pretty cool!

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