Since launching in 2014 Graphic Design Festival Scotland has received more than 38,000 poster submissions from over 100+ countries fo its International Poster Competition from established agencies and budding designers alike from all corners of the earth.

This year’s International Poster Competition winners are inspiring as their designs “alter perceptions or ways of thinking, offer creative solutions to problems, contribute to current affairs, open dialogues for debate, provoke discussions and make innovative use of media or medium” notes GDFS

The 2019 competition received 8,567 submissions from 86 countries with Lamm & Kirch, Mark Bohle & Nam Huynh and Formes Vives! winning big. 

You can visit the International Poster Exhibition at an all-new space dedicated to graphic design aka Olympia Gallery – where the exhibition opened on November 22nd, 2019.

The following are the top three winning posters with the jury’s comments as noted on GDFS

Ruhr Ding: Territorien and Tony Cokes – Mixing Plant by Lamm & Kirch, 3rd place

“The bold factual typography combined with soft, fading colors and blended imagery melts together a unique fusion of industrial communication and creative expression”

The posters were commissioned by Urbane Kuenst Ruhr, an institution for contemporary art, to promote two exhibitions. One titled Territories which explores territorial definitions and the territorial aspects of establishing an identity. The other, an exhibition of artist Tony Cokes’ work which “reflects on capitalism, subjective perceptions, knowledge transfer and (visual) stimuli”. The posters are designed within a wider identity as part of Lamm & Kirch’s on-going work with the institution.

Aiming to reflect the “unstable” identity of the institution which operates in the “decentralised” post-industrial area of Ruhr in West Germany, Lamm & Kirch utilise “a tool kit” of “variable components”; photography, abstract imagery, artist material, formless shapes, graphic symbols and a custom variable font built with Dinamo Typefaces. The elements come together in seemingly haphazard compositions; images layer over each other, lines and shapes intersect and information appears sporadically dotted around in perceptively chaotic compositions.

Bigger and Better: Graphic Design Festival Scotland 2018 in 230 posters!

The bold factual typography combined with soft, fading colors and blended imagery melts together a unique fusion of industrial communication and creative expression.

“The posters are successful on many levels; effective as stand-alone pieces of work, perform seamlessly as part of a wider identity, visually exciting at first glance with various levels of interest up to small details within the typography, an exciting variety of visual elements, all of the elements connect and disconnect with one another in an interesting way, the posters strongly reflect the concept and approach of the institution, exceptionally high quality of finish, typography is solid and the aesthetic is original” notes the jury of this year’s competition. 

The Big Bang by Mark Bohle and Nam Huynh, 2nd place 

The poster was commissioned by community-focused student space ODAS to promote a doors-open day which offered the opportunity to visit the private studios of various creatives.

Through the poster, creative spaces were compared to children’s bedrooms, places “of imagination and pure freedom”. Continuing the idea of child-like imagination, inspiration was drawn from a Joan Miro illustration for the central motif – a star. The area around the star is embellished with a scattering of pop-culture icons, characters, and symbols – comparable to children plastering stickers all over belongings as a way of personalizing or customizing.

“Posters do not always have to be direct or immediate. A successful poster may not be straight forward and could be open to interpretation”

Custom 3D typography is paired with a geometric sans at the bottom of the poster to communicate the title and event information.

“The poster is instantly memorable; strange, playful and engaging. The concept comparing the children’s bedrooms to creative studios is original and communicated in a fascinating way. The “stickers”, Joan Miro inspired 3D-rendered toothpaste, thick blobby custom lettering and light grotesk geometric typeface at the bottom are an unforgettable combination of elements and assembled together in a tactile, unexpected way. The poster is highly contemporary but well-grounded and formed. Very enjoyable to look at” comments the jury members of the winning project. 

Extra Ball and Golden Ball by Formes Vives!, 1st place

The posters were commissioned by art/craft/DIY design publisher Ultra for public display next to their offices in Brittany, France, and Formes Vives were offered complete creative control.

Formes Vives aimed to “support” the Gilet Jaune, a populist, political movement for economic justice started in France during 2018, and “talk about police repression”. An illustrated pinball machine is combined with typographic cues relating to the “Gilet Jaune” in a tactile frenzy of colors, lines, and forms. Some of the scrawled cues on the posters include “gasoline”, “fire”, “capital gains”, “tax-free”, “power” and “play”. The posters do not explicitly comment but perhaps compare the actions between the Gilet Jaune and the police on the streets of Paris to a game of fatal pinball.

The posters were created using hand-drawn illustrations, layered digital collage and printed digitally before being displayed publicly in Brittany.

“Posters which engage with current affairs or on-going global topics are important, particularly within graphic design where designers have such a strong position to communicate ideas and educate those around them. The posters are totally original, visually engaging, spark curiosity and contribute to on-going political discussion” notes this year’s jury members which included The Rodina from the Czech Republic, Spassky Fischer from France and Warriors Studio from the United Kingdom.

Koos Breen knows how to design a typographic poster for the win

“Formes Vives approach feels human, organic and personal which implies a level of authenticity and expressive emotion which strengthens the message and the connection between the poster and the subject. Posters do not always have to be direct or immediate. A successful poster may not be straight forward and could be open to interpretation. This may be atypical of how we expect “good” design to behave but hopefully, through the competition we can open up new ways of thinking and demonstrate that immediacy and directness are not always an indicator of quality.”

“The posters hit the sweet spot in many ways: they contribute to on-going political discussions, are visually striking, the use of colors and forms in the composition is strong, the tactility of the work is quite unique. The approach of Formes Vives is inimitable with real emotion and craft. The posters demonstrate that the artistic aspect and the craft of poster design are alive and well.”

All 252 posters selected are featured inside the International Poster Book edition. The limited publication of 1,000 copies available hits all the right notes so do make sure to grab your own copy here.

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