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Avant Garde Poster Contest

Posted by Scott

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There was a massive anti-war protest across the street this weekend, thousands of people everywhere.  All of the signs and posters reminded me of the Avant Garde "No More War" poster contest.  I dug around and found these two issues, #1 and #5. On the back cover of Avant Garde #01 (1967) they printed a call for entries for the contest and announced the judges, Herb Lubalin being among them (quite intimidating for the contestants I’d imagine).  The winners of the contest were announced in issue #5. I’ve posted my favorite example  above, an entry by Billy Apple (England) and Robert Coburn (US). Efficient and to the point, I think the key here is that it goes beyond merely engaging the viewer and calls for active, on-the-spot participation. The choice of language also plays a large role in the impact of the design; in 1967 this was still a very shocking word to see in print for most people.
Although this was 40 years ago, the message is as poignant today as it was then: we once again find ourselves mired in an unpopular foreign war with dubious motives and no clear end in sight.  I have to wonder if imagery like this was more effective in it’s time.  People today have seen so many things and become so jaded to visual input that it’s very difficult to jar them awake with something like this anymore. I think the 60′s were one of the first times it became almost mainstream for people to question the government, so ideas like these were still new and somewhat disquieting for many. 

Otl Aicher – Munich ’72

Posted by Scott

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Another image by German Designer Otl Aicher who was responsible for the branding of the ’72 Munich Games.  All of this stuff is amazing.  I am not a huge fan of the Dachsund mascot, but this is about as good a treatment you could give to such a concept. 
Simply do a Flickr Search for "Otl Aicher" and your head will explode.  Incredible stuff, some really nice shots of the London Aicher exhibition. I just can’t get over how contemporary these colors and forms are.  None of it feels dated, could have been from a pitch for 2012, if the people who oversee those sorts of things still had any taste that is.  Seems like all the stuff now days is targeted at the lowest common denominator. All of the recent stuff I have seen for 2012 is throw-away, middle of the road with compromise written all over it. Aicher’s campaign is thought provoking and timeless, obviously a good argument against the design by committee ethics I have to imagine produced this sort of output.

1972 NY Transit Map

Posted by Scott

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A 1972 map of the New York Subway system. Going to be using this a lot in a couple weeks so thought I would post it up. This is of course based on English graphic designer Harry Beck’s original topographic map of the London Underground (as Paul Mison pointed out in the comments, this is a later version of the map, not Beck’s original). This style of map was revolutionary at the time (1933) since it eschewed the geographically correct maps of the age for topographic representations of systems.

A schematic diagram rather than a map, it represents not geography but relations. It considerably distorts the actual relative positions of stations, but accurately represents their sequential and connective relations with each other along the lines and their placement within fare zones.
- From Wikipedia “Tube Map” Article

This must have been a very big logical departure for a lot of people and a lot of credit is due to Beck for having the intuition to draw the map in this new way. Of course all this is beside the fact that it’s just plain beautiful to look at and a great work of graphic art in it’s own right. To this day, Beck’s map still influences the way networked systems are represented, the above image being a great example. I don’t think many designers can claim such a revolutionary concept as their own.