Layers + Symmetry: Poster 2023 Winners

Depending on the design, posters can be as simple or complex as you can make them. In this week’s blog post, we take a look at four thought-provoking works layered in carefully-chosen colors, repetitive shapes, and sharp symmetry. 

German Graphis Master Gunter Rambow has made it no secret that he loves the opera; one of his most frequent clients is the Frankfurt Opera. Established all the way back in 1782, the company has hosted the premier of multiple different operas such as Inferno (based off of Dante’s Divine Comedy) and Caligula (based off the 1945 play by French author Albert Camus), and its theater is considered one of the best in the world. The best deserves the best, and Gunter gives his all for each poster he makes for them, such as this Silver-winning 2023 poster “Warten auf Heute (Waiting for Today)” (above, left).

The opera it’s promoting, directed by David Hermann, is a combination of four works by composers Arnold Schönberg and Frank Martin. Given the tagline “One man, one woman. Marriage, everyday life, life,” Waiting for Today examines questions about the passing of time and the development of two individuals and how marriage connects them. Given the overall appearance of the poster, one thinks any connections formed might not be the best. A blue grid, like a wire cage, covers the entire poster. Behind it, the yellow title looms at a slant, dissolving into shadow at the bottom. Though a simple design, there is a sense of menace to it that the viewer can only confirm if they see the show. Plenty of people did see it as the finished poster was shown on poster pillars all over Frankfurt.

Though he is an American Graphis Master now, Mirko Ilic started his career in his native Croatia, an Eastern European country that sits across from Italy on the Adriatic Sea. While not as prominent as other European cultures, Croatia call a talented array of artists its own, no more so than Miroslav Krleža, the country’s most celebrated writer. Born in 1893 in Croatia’s capital Zagreb, he first served as a soldier and fought in World War I. His writing career took off after the war ended thanks to leftist literary and political reviews, and he eventually founded what we now know today as the Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography with support from revolutionary and statesman Josip Broz Tito. He wrote numerous novels, short stories, poetry, and plays before dying in 1981.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Miroslav’s death, Mirko designed “10th Festival Miroslav Krleža” (above, left) for a Miroslav Krleža festival hosted by Teatar Poezije, or Theater of Poetry, a Croatian artistic organization that deals with the affirmation of poetic speech through various forms. Miroslav’s face is drawn in profile, wearing his well-known and distinguished hat. Drawing inspiration from one of the author’s most famous novels, The Flags, Mirko shapes Miroslav red, white, and blue lines (the colors of the Croatian flag). Stuck between the lines are all the incarnations the Croatian flag went through during his lifetime. It’s a patriotic piece, showing obvious pride and love in a crucial cultural figure.

Another Silver-winning piece, as well as another sort of personal project, is Owen Gildersleeve‘s “The Sun On The Sea” (above, left). Originally created in response to the prompt ‘Joy is?’ from the artist agency Grand Matter, this piece celebrates the start of a new year and the importance of appreciating “the little things.” To Owen himself, this includes making more time for family, personal work, and catching the sun as it sets on the sea.

The design was drawn in Adobe Illustrator, and each different layer of the design was then cut out of colored paper. The sheets of paper had varied stocks which added a range of textures. These pieces were then assembled on foamboard for depth, and the final piece was shot in Gildersleeve’s studio and retouched in Adobe Photoshop. Natural light created the soft shadows seen at the top of the texturized round orange sun. The black flat-topped shape below the sun represents the calm sea and its distant horizon, while the waves point toward the viewer. This scene, with its symmetry and warm color palette, creates a sense of calm and serenity inviting self-reflection. It serves as a sister to another piece by Gildersleeve titled “Many Moons“. 

Stepping away from Silver winners, we have a hypnotic Gold-winning two-part series by Mikhail Lychkovskiy, “Diorama” (above, right). These pieces also started as a self-initiated project but were eventually used by the German alternative band Diorama to promote their music. The band falls under several genres including electronic body music (EBM), electro-pop, future pop, and darkwave. The name of the band is used to describe their view of music as an artistic form of expression.

The maze-like design with repeating black and white fractals reflects this view, created to reflect the band’s sound with the “sound of the poster”. As an homage to a poster by Erich Brechbühl which was created to promote a concert, this piece also spells out “DIORAMA” in large Tetris-stacked block letters. The small more visible text in the upper-right-hand white space gives details about the band’s concert.

Check out other Poster 2023 winners here. To enter our Poster 2024 competition, click here.

Author: Graphis