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Understanding Typography in Poster Design

Typographic Poster Design

Typography as art is an inspired concept. Typography, put simply, is the technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. However, experimenting with various possible text styles are what great designers do in the design industry. And typography is one great example where the power of imagination in experimenting is an advantage.

Using typography in poster design can greatly add to its artistic appeal.  Since posters are meant to be both eye catching and informative, using typography to meld words and images into riveting forms, is a guaranteed way to grab attention. In fact, a lot of designers today are playing with the art of typography in their creations. All over the creative space, it’s more popular than ever, having a retro-come-futuristic feel, depending on the fonts and style used.

NeueGraphic Poster DesignGood typography takes expertise: choosing the best type to complement the meaning of the content, balancing sizes and spacing for optimum readability, and not drawing attention to itself in the process. The art of the typeface, from the typographer who creates them down to the designer who meticulously meddles with settings to get them just right in their designs — from the size to the letter spacing to the line length — is a complicated one. So, it’s necessary to appreciate it as a complex and ingenious form of art.

Now designers and artists are increasingly taking typography a step further, blurring the lines between words and pictures. There are several different types of typographic art, the main three forms being: phrases, usually aphorisms, maxims or quotes, displayed in a typographic style intended to be visually appealing; single words highly decorated to amplify their meaning; and images created from words or phrases which have some direct relation to the subject of the image.

Typographic Poster ExampleIt’s no surprise that typography has gained such appeal. Images have provided a means of communication for thousands of years; from prehistoric cave paintings created before language, to the symbolism of renaissance art at a time when most ordinary people could not read; to the discreet signs hobos leave for each other to signify danger or assistance.

In the modern world, however, most of us expect to get our information in written form, from the web, books, newspapers and so on. Only a minority of people know how to read the works of renaissance painters now, but most of us in the western world can read the written explanations of those paintings. And yet, images still have a greater impact.

Imagery is an incredibly democratic form of communication; you don’t need to be a gifted wordsmith to communicate simple ideas and with the advent of digital cameras and software like Adobe Photoshop anyone can make use of a powerful image. Using words to make these images could be seen as a modern, digital counterpoint to symbolism in art, providing a literal meaning for images connected with ideas they do not figuratively represent.

When we want to make an impact, to get the message across, we always use images over words. Images transcend words, they are a universal language, and they carry with them an immediacy that is hard to ignore. The language barrier can interfere with typographic poster designs in some cases so this is something designers need to be aware of.

Typography Poster PrintTypography has always been part of designing. Hence, there are people who make use of it in a truly artistic way not just considering aesthetics but also making sure that an important message is being conveyed. No doubt, typography as an art is effective and is also appealing to the audience. That is why, through the years, it has been used by many designers in various ways and has found its place in poster design as well.

The creative manner of using type has inspired many designers to explore and discover ways in using type for their designs. Some people might not be able to appreciate it but as one looks deeper into their works; you will come to realize that typography is more than just type. In fact, typography, if creatively used can turn a poster into a true piece of art.


For further information on typesetting and its history see the Wikipedia reference.

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