Tag Archives: Posters

Mapping it up. Embrace the inner cartographer of artists and graphic designers

I’ve yet to meet a designer who doesn’t harbour a fondness for maps, writes Alexander Ecob. Perhaps it’s the vaguely retentive appeal of putting everything in its rightful place, or the pedigree of one of the oldest forms of data visualisation. Whatever the reason, many artists and designers have something of the cartographer about them, and a handful of these put it to good use.

Top: Alan Kitching – Clerkenwell map. See Video Thrills – the letterpress star, Fine words for Kitching / Stothard on the Eye blog and The show must go on in Eye 74.


Above: Diorama Map by Sohei Nishino.

Shown recently at London’s Michael Hoppen Contemporary gallery, Sohei Nishino’s Diorama Maps are painstakingly created photomontages, made up of thousands of images taken and developed by the artist, then cut and spliced together to construct maps that are at once familiar and disorientating.

Above: London’s Kerning by NB: Studio

To really appreciate its scale and detail, the typographic obsession that is NB: Studio’s London’s Kerning needs to be seen up close. It is available for purchase on Blanka. See Calling Cards on the Eye blog for more from NB:


Above: Phrenological San Francisco (Sarah Stern, Ben Pease and Paz de la Calzada) from Infinite City by Rebecca Solnit.

Four years in the making, the work of a cooperative of artists, writers, historians, researchers and cartographers from the Bay Area, Infinite City takes the form of 22 inventive maps of San Francisco and its environs, each with an accompanying essay. The whimsical approach and surrealism of its correlations put this book more in the realm of Italo Calvino than the Collins World Atlas, and it is all the better for it.


Above: The Island by Stephen Walter.

London-born artist Stephen Walter’s The Island satirises the London-centric view of the English capital and its commuter towns as independent from the rest of the country. With maps of each of the city’s boroughs pencil-drawn in meticulous detail showing a wealth of local information, The Island was shown in the British Library’s ‘Magnificent Maps’ exhibition in 2010 (see review in Eye 76).


Above: spread from Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky.

Schalansky’s award-winning Atlas – conceived, written and designed by the German designer – is a triumph of charm and single-minded vision. Her delicate illustrations are juxtaposed with effusive vignettes that detail the islands’ known histories, bountiful and brutal alike. See review of Atlas of Remote Islands in Eye 78.


Above: Map of Florida by Paula Scher.

In the early 1990s, renowned graphic designer Paula Scher began painting small, opinionated maps – colorful depictions of continents and regions, covered from top to bottom by a scrawl of words. ‘They’re all wrong,’ Scher says. ‘I mean, nothing’s in the right spot. I put in what I feel like. It’s my comment on information in general. We receive a lot of information all the time and mostly it’s lies or slight mistruths.’

See Bigger is Better on the Eye blog and the Reputations interview with Scher in Eye 77.

See also: next week’s ‘Hand-drawn London’ exhibition at the Museum of London, 21 Apr–11 Sep 2011.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. The latest issue is Eye 79, a type special.

Out of space. Charting the pervasive visual language of science fiction

A forthcoming exhibition about science fiction at the British Library will be full of amazing images as well as stories. We spoke to Katya Rogatchevskaia, co-curator of the British Library’s exhibition, opening on 20 May 2011 and titled: ‘Out of This World: Science Fiction but not as you know it.’

Top: Frank R Paul, April 1928 ‘Eye’ cover for Amazing Stories, the world’s first science fiction magazine.

Below: Polish samizdat edition of Evgeny Zamyatin’s My (We), published in Warsaw, 1985.

Evgeny Zamiatin - My

EYE The exhibition looks at what distinguishes science fiction from related genres like fantasy and horror. Is there anything distinct about the visual language?

KR Science fiction is about imagination, speculations and vision. It’s a genre that both invites and defies accurate interpretation through illustration. The exhibition will explore the full spectrum of visualised science fiction, from science fiction that is theoretically possible and based on ‘real science’, designed to instruct as well as entertain – such as the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne – to the more imaginative and speculative science fiction of virtual worlds, where dreams can play as big a role as digital realities.

The visual language of science fiction is something that we readily understand and return to constantly. If you asked a selection of people to draw an extraterrestrial life form, it is highly likely that you would be presented with at least a few domed-headed, boggle-eyed beings. This representation of aliens is not based on any real science, but it has entered our visual culture and become iconic.

The same motifs appear again and again in science fiction, often straying into mainstream fiction. Obviously there is some cross-over with fantasy and horror, and looking at science fiction in a vacuum would not be helpful, but we aim to show that science fiction has been incredibly inspirational in its own right – to popular culture, literature and art.

Below: Francis Godwin’s Domingo Gonsales trained a flock of ganzas to transport him in The Man in the Moone. From the first edition, 1638.

The Man in the Moone. From the first edition, 1638

Raymond Taylor’s composition, A Signal from Mars, 1901

Above: Raymond Taylor’s composition, A Signal from Mars, 1901.

EYE Can you comment upon the relationship between science fiction literature and illustration?

KR From the end of the nineteenth century, popular fiction became more and more linked to illustration, and illustrators and graphic artists started exploiting science fiction as a source of inspiration. Science fiction from this period plays an important role in the history of book cover design, with the automation of book production making illustrated covers a marketing tool – and we have some fantastic early examples of this phenomenon in the exhibition. We also have a number of artists’ books, which are some of my favourite items – for example, William Morris, Barlowe’s, guide to extraterrestrials, Barry Moser’s visualisation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1983), and especially – Lem Mróz.

Below: Bovril advertisement, ca.1890.

Bovril advertisement, c1890

Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland, 1980

Visitors will be able to see a 30ft long concertina book version of Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, published in 1980 by the Arion Press (above). Flatland is a satire on Victorian society, representing the class system through the metaphor of geometry, and this edition goes one step further, reimagining the book itself as a geometrical form. We are also showing the artist Luigi Serafini’s Codex Seraphinianus (1981), an encyclopedia of an imaginary world, written in an imaginary language; as well as Paul Scheerbart’s portfolio of illustrations, Gallery of the Beyond from 1907, which is a visualisation of aliens from ‘beyond the Orbit of Neptune’.

Cover of Gaspar’s Novelas (1887)

Above: Cover of Gaspar’s Novelas (1887) for ‘El Anacronópete’ depicting the earliest known portrayal of a time machine.

Below: The Martians from H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds; as depicted by Alvim-Correa in the Belgian edition, La Guerre des mondes (Brussels, 1906).

The Martians from H G Wells’s The War of the Worlds

The exhibition will also show various other approaches to illustrating. H. G. Wells’ famous The War of the Worlds is shown in three editions. Tripod aliens are exhibited side by side as visualised by three prominent book illustrators: Warwick Goble, Jacobus Speenhoff and Alvim Corrêa – in this way we can see how the same work was interpreted entirely differently, whilst still having a powerful impact.

EYE In what ways will visitors be able to engage with the visual language of science fiction during this exhibition?

KR Visitors will be able to see the whole spectrum of the visual language of science fiction. They will have a chance to compare different techniques, styles and forms of illustrations and enjoy the visual side of imaginary worlds. They can see original artwork by contemporary artists (David Hardy, Bryan Talbot, Les Edwards, James Richardson-Brown). They will be able to take part in our interactive exhibits, by designing their own alien to be part of the exhibition, and sending a postcard from a science fiction landscape. I hope also that the exhibition will inspire artists and designers to create new work, and perhaps make people think again about the ways in which science fiction speaks to our imaginations.

20 May > 25 Sep 2011
Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it
PACCAR Gallery
British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB UK

Below: Lucian of Samosata, True History, Dutch edition, 1647.

Lucian of Samosata, True History

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. For an extensive (if so far incomplete), text-only archive of articles (going back to Eye no. 1 in 1990) visit eyemagazine.com. For a visual sample of the latest issue, see Eye before you buy on Issuu.

Power of the ruling pen. David Gentleman’s graphic poster campaign for Stop the War

Placards have always been a powerful visual medium for demonstration and protest. A team from Goldsmiths, University of London, asked anti-cuts demonstrators at the recent London march to donate theirs for preservation in the Museum of London’s collections (see the group’s Facebook page for images and more information)

For Eye 78’s Reputations article, editor John L. Walters interviewed designer-illustrator David Gentleman. His graphic work for the ‘Stop the War’ campaign is possibly his most widely known work from recent years – and, as Gentleman told Eye in conversation, ‘it was also a surprise for people who associated me with rather staid spheres!’

Top: Placards and posters from various marches. The lower one was flyposted to announce the first march in Feb 2003. ‘It would have been the final placard,’ says Gentleman, ‘but for technical reasons the printer would have had to leave a white border round it, so it was changed to black type on white and made in upright format in case it rained – the horizontal one would have flopped about.’

Below: The ‘Bliar’ anagram was Gentleman’s idea. ‘It took me a while to dare to use it,’ he says, ‘because Blair was still prime minister at the time, and I thought: “is this really a good career move?”’


The job came about through his book A Special Relationship, made around 25 years ago. His wife Sue Gentleman remembers the controversy that work caused: ‘The Evening Standard or someone published a headline “No longer a gentleman”!’ As Gentleman explains, the Iraq war reawakened his political drive:

‘I’d inherited my Dad’s automatic leftiness but I’ve never committed like the people I’ve met in Stop the War, whose lives seem wholly dedicated to the cause. At the back of A Special Relationship there are people carrying “NO” placards. When it began to look as if the war in Iraq was imminent, I made a simple “NO” and stuck it over press photos of people on a march, so that it looked very legible.’

‘I sent it to CND a week before the march saying would you like to use this? Not surprisingly, I never heard anything back! After another march, six months later, I saw Tony Benn and asked him who should I send such an idea to, and he told me about the Stop the War Coalition. They got the designs printed fantastically quickly. They used East End Offset, which had been Private Eye’s printer. Phil Whaite, an excellent freelance typographer / designer, helped me with the computer side.’

Below: Posters and banners for Stop the War Coalition, 2003-present. ‘The blood splat was made with red watercolour dripped from a ruling pen held at shoulder height on to good, hand-made watercolour paper,’ says Gentleman.



See full text of Reputations interview with David Gentleman in Eye 78.

See also ‘Fixed compass’, about Gentleman’s identity for British Steel on the Eye blog.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop. For a taste of no. 78, see Eye before you buy on Issuu. Eye 79, Spring 2011, is out now.

Back in the USSR. Remarkable film posters from Lithuania’s Soviet years

Under Soviet rule, Lithuanian film poster designers had to get their work past the cultural apparatchiks that controlled the ‘Publishing House of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania’, writes John Ridpath. Nonetheless, they produced a body of work that is artistically stunning, visually inventive and laced with cautiously coded counter-propaganda.

From Friday 8 April, London’s Rich Mix will be hosting the first-ever UK exhibition of Lithuanian film posters. The examples on show are from the collection of photographer Marta Ovod, who spoke to me about the posters, their makers and Lithuania.

Top: Games Adults Play (Suaugusių žmonių žaidimai), dir. Ilya Rud-Gerovsky, 1967. Designed by Stasys Kireilis, 1967.

JR What drew you to Lithuanian cinema posters?

MO I was born and grew up in Lithuania as a child and have actively enjoyed its unique culture. When asked to write a dissertation for my MA, I decided to choose something related to Lithuania as I felt that there is little known about its arts in the west. Very soon I was delving into Lithuanian cinema, in which posters played a big part. To me the themes and simplicity hark back to the way my childhood looked, innocent and colourful.

Lithuanian Film Posters-012469

Above: An Eternal Light (Amžinoji šviesa), dir. Algimantas Puipa, 1987. Designed by Raimundas Sližys, 1988.

Below: Daydreams of Centenarians (Šimtamečių godos, documentary), dir. Robertas Verba, 1969. Designed by Stasys Kireilis, 1969.

Lithuanian Film Posters-012478

JR Can you share any thoughts about the conditions, inspirations and aspirations of the poster designers?

There is a very informative short film that was made to accompany ‘Declassified’ project, it is currently being translated and subtitled for English speaking audiences (Lithuanian version here). In the film the three graphic artists speak about working under Soviet occupation. They had to go through strict censorship and each poster carries this information as a footnote (which made them easier to catalogue!)

Many of the artists were painters as well as graphic designers, and they saw the film poster as an art form which expressed poetry and the soul of the nation. Many of these ‘canvases’ contain a few hidden symbols that subtly signal a desire for freedom and change, especially in the 1980s. The censors forbade the use of the Lithuanian flag, but it found itself into posters by way of its three strong suggestive colours: yellow, green and red, splattered in a non linear composition.

Lithuanian Film Posters-012539

Above: Our Small Sins (Mažos mūsų nuodėmės), dir. Henrikas Šablevičius, 1979. Designed by Miroslavas Znamerovskis, 1980.

Below: Game Without Trumps (Lošimas be kozirių), dir. Algimantas Kundelis, 1981. Designed by Vidas Drėgva, 1984.

Lithuanian Film Posters-012553

Lithuanian Film Posters-012515

Above: The first semi-nude poster to pass the censors. Ovod comments: ‘When it came to receive a censorship stamp, eyebrows were raised and it was suggested that some elements should be added to make it less shocking. In came in the smoke, and blades of grass. The poster rarely saw the street: such was its value, it ended up being used for bribes, with many ending up in the offices of various officials in Moscow.’

JR There aren’t any post-1990 independence posters amongst the images I’ve seen. Do you have (or have you seen) any posters from this period? Does a similar visual language continue after this point?

MO I own very few post 1990 posters, but have seen some around. Many of the artists that worked under the Soviet occupation continued to do so after 1990, and have often continued with a similar style ethos. They do feel that the time spent over a poster has shrunk and so has its quality, but the short film ends on a positive note: it is never a chore to create a poster but always a celebration. The designers say that creating a poster is like eating a dessert, always a delight!

Lithuanian Film Posters-012566

Above: Feelings (Jausmai), dir. Algirdas Dausa and Almantas Grikevičius, 1968. Designed by Vytautas Valius, 1968.

Below: That Damned Humility (Tas prakeiktas nuolankumas) dir. Algirdas Dausa, 1970. Designed by Miroslavas Znamerovskis, 1971.

Lithuanian Film Posters-012414

8 > 30 April 2011
Lithuanian Film Posters (part of ‘Declassified’)
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

More about Marta Ovod on her website.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. For a visual sample, see Eye before you buy on Issuu.

Fresh garbage. ‘Matter out of place’ and filthy reality at the Wellcome’s new show

The Wellcome Collection’s new show is all about ‘Dirt: The filthy reality of everyday life’, writes Rosie Walters. The science, the sociology, the history and the horror of waste forms the basis of this free London exhibition. It is not based on the science of dirt, but on the context in which it is found, and our attitudes towards it over the years.

The Wellcome has a history of putting on exhibitions that blur the lines where science, communication and art all meet, and making it accessible not just to scientists, but to anyone who’s interested.

L0068416 Last barge of garbage to Fresh Kills

Above: Last barge of garbage to Fresh Kills, 2001. Courtesy of the City of New York

Loosely split into six different sections, the exhibition guides you from the microscopes of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (below) and immaculate houses in seventeenth-century Delft, to the squalid reality of life in the slums of New Delhi and the growing crisis of waste disposal in New York’s Staten Island (above).

Ant eggs and maggots etc.

Above: Ant eggs and maggots etc., by Anthony van Leeuwenhoek, 1807. Courtesy Wellcome Library, London.

Each section explores social and political attitudes to the many different types of dirt. From human to industrial, it seeks to examine anthropologist Mary Douglas’ view that dirt is just ‘matter out of place’.

A young Venetian woman, aged 23

Above: A young Venetian woman, aged 23, depicted before and after contracting cholera. Coloured stipple engraving. Courtesy: Wellcome Collection.

Despite being a topic that does not naturally associate itself with beauty, the exhibition is incredibly visually striking: there is a clear progression from section to section and a good mix of media. Videos, specially commissioned artwork, photos and explanatory panels are nicely balanced, giving visitors enough information to appreciate the exhibits without them getting overloaded by facts and figures.

Raw Material Washing Hands

Above: Raw Material Washing Hands, 1996, by Bruce Nauman, Video installation. Courtesy ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008.

The strongest area by far is the one focusing on the Deutsche Hygiene Museum, which covers everything from 1960s animations showing the viewer how important washing fruit is (‘be like Snow White and wash your fruit before you eat it!’) to the disquieting ‘racial hygiene’ Nazi posters, and an illustration in Der Stürmer [The Attacker] from 1943 showing the Star of David and the Soviet hammer and sickle as ‘germs’ and ‘microbes’ in the view of a microscope. It also shows promotional posters for, and images from the first international Hygiene exhibition in Dresden in 1911, including Franz von Stuck’s giant eye poster (top).

V0013642 King's Cross, London: the Great Dust-Hea

Above: King’s Cross, London: the Great Dust-Heap, next to Battle Bridge and the Smallpox Hospital. Watercolour painting by E. H. Dixon, 1837. Courtesy Wellcome Library, London.

‘Dirt’ may not be the ideal choice for the more squeamish – the scratch-and-sniff cards accompanied by anti-bacterial hand wash and giant ‘anthropometric modules’ (bricks) made of human faeces were a little nauseating. But it certainly is a fascinating insight into mankind’s morbid relationship with waste.

Rosie Walters is a UCL student and science editor of Pi.

Dirt: The filthy reality of everyday life
24 March > 31 August 2011
Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK
+44 (0)20 7611 2222
Admission free.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal. Available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. Eye 79, a type special, will be out any moment.

Bravo, Charlie. Playing with phonetic typography at the Kemistry gallery

Hot on the heels of their intriguing exhibition of Saul Bass posters, the Kemistry gallery (a fitting venue for phonetics) plays host to the ICAO Phonetic Spelling Alphabet as interpreted by Eat Sleep Work / Play, Inventory Studio (one of the practices behind ‘The Art of Conversation’) & Julia, writes Alexander Ecob.

The ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization] alphabet, originally developed in the 1930s to aid communication under poor signal conditions, is here represented with playful typographical forms larking about on A2 posters.


First shown as part of Tokyo’s UK?OK!!, the project plays on the international theme of the alphabet’s intent – though all of the studios featured are London based.

A wider range of participating designers might have made the work richer, but as they stand, the pieces give off a great sense of fun. Also on display will be a specially commissioned installation featuring a short story that makes use of every single letter from this alphabet. Sets and individual prints will be available to purchase.


Roger That!
24 March > 16 April
Kemistry Gallery
43 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch
London EC2A 3PD

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. For an extensive (if so far incomplete), text-only archive of articles (going back to Eye no. 1 in 1990) visit eyemagazine.com. For a visual sample, see Eye before you buy on Issuu.

Posters on sticks. A vast river of banner-bearing humanity with something to say

Here is a postscript to Eye’s poster debate, writes Sally Jeffery (see ‘Help! Poster initiatives mean well …

This time: posters on sticks.


The vast river of humanity that flowed through central London on 26 March was resplendent with a waving forest of placards and banners, swept along by up to half a million people. They had come from all over Britain to register anger or fear or despair at the coalition government’s scheduled spending cuts – and they did it with posters.


At the heart of the march were the massed cohorts of the public service trade unions, but it felt as if nearly everyone else was there, too, all mixed up together. The actions of anti-capitalists a few streets away became the day’s other story. However, the occasional masked trooper who pushed through the crowds of marchers seemed to be carrying a faint – and unexpected – whiff of elitism instead of a banner.

Some of the marchers’ placards and banners were pro jobs (usefully put up online beforehand as free-to-use pdfs), some home-made, some were old and iconic union banners. No designer’s name in sight though – just a sort of democracy of poster production, proclaiming a common cause. Perhaps posters don’t change events. But then again, it’s possible Britain would have a different government now, if people hadn’t marched with banners in 2003, and been ignored.





Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal. Available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. Eye 79, a type special, will be out very soon.

Alvaro Herrera – Pintor de Puertas

Moving from window bars to doors, I happened upon Alvaro Herrera’s project Pintor de Puertas while Googling some art galleries in Bogota.

Alvaro Herrera – Pintor de Puertas

I actually kind of groaned when I first saw this image as it reminded me of those cheesy posters of “The Doors of [insert City Name].” Then I read about Herrera’s process and it struck me as interesting. He went around to different houses in a poor neighborhood, offered his services as a door painter in exchange for being able to photograph it and use it for this project. The design of the door was a collaboration between the artist and the inhabitants.

When I take a picture of someone, I don’t think I’m taking something from them, necessarily, but I do feel a little bit of guilt about appropriating their image for my own desires. I’m very aware that I’m dependent upon the kindness of strangers [or friends, or family] for the work that I do. Herrera’s project strikes me as a fitting exchange between photographer/painter and subject.