A Cut Above & Homage to Design Icons: New Poster 2023 Entries

This year’s poster competition provides some incredible work, including these entries:

First up is a playful take on the creative process. Ken-Tsai Lee, an associate professor at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Visual Director for Taiwan Designers’ Week, and regional representative of the New York Art Directors Club and New York Type Directors Club, specializes in bringing typography and image to life and creating thought-provoking works in the process. “What’s Inside the Pencil” (above, left) is a series of posters created for the Design and Art Direction Exhibition in Taiwan that show cross-sections of a pencil, revealing an interesting variety of things inside. One features deliciously rendered orange slices, another the fleshy pink of a grapefruit. The series also features images of an eggplant, kiwi, and watermelon rendered in the same illustrative style. Each poster is also unique in the shape and style of the pencil and its slices: vertically for the grapefruit, horizontally for the orange, and even shaved into a spiral for the watermelon. These lighthearted, engaging visuals are combined with Lee’s signature simple but tasteful typographic elements to form a design that is thoughtful and whimsical in equal turns.

Next is Michael Braley’s “Homage to Rosmarie Tissi” (above, right), which was designed for the Moscow Golden Bee Global Biennale 2022 and curated by Serge Serov. Best known for her work as the creator of the Sinaloa font, Swiss graphic design master Tissi created geometric, typographically enhanced poster designs for a variety of groups, including the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China. Braley’s poster encapsulates and expands upon Tissi’s signature style, using bold shapes and solid colors to commemorate her life and work. A stark, bright red T-shape is placed on a solid, dark blue background. On top of the T are blocks of equally vivid green, yellow, and light blue, all at angles. The design has a sense of focused balance despite its asymmetry, and the piece comes together with beautifully grounded simplicity, truly capturing the essence of the artist it references.

If you hate the current cold, here’s a piece that will warm you up. “Summer 2021” (above, left) was created by John Sposato as a self-initiated work in a long series of semi-annual seasonal greetings/promotion posters. These seasonal mailings have been a tradition and collaboration with a printing company and his studio for decades, and there’s even a mailing list that has come to expect these seasonal greetings every year instead of a conventional holiday card. A series of four images of the same park, gazebo, and statuary from exactly the same position make up the majority of the poster, with each image in a different season (and Summer being the most prominent). While at first glance, the images appear to be detailed illustrations, they’re actually real photographs! Complementing them are borders created with deckle-edged textured paper in a season-appropriate color, as well as letterforms and numbers in the same paper. The cherry on top is a quote from George Jones’ “Seasons of My Heart”, which will put you in a bright and sunny mood.

Lastly, we have another homage from Michael Braley, “Homage to Paul Rand” (above, right). One of the most influencial graphic designers of the 20th century, Rand is best known for his corporate logo designs for companies like IBM, UPS, ABC, Morningstar, Inc., and more. He was also one of the first American commercial artists to embrace and practice the Swiss Style of graphic design, whose hallmarks are asymmetric layouts, use of a grid, sans-serif typefaces, and flush left, ragged right text. Many of these attributes are on display in Braley’s poster. Against a backdrop of blue and black horizontal stripes, Paul Rand’s name is spelled out in white, zig zagging back and forth across the poster. This plays on the background stripes and make the piece fun to read and look at.

For more great entries in this year’s poster competition, or to submit your own designs, head to graphis.com.

Author: Graphis