04 March 2016

Critique double feature: Grunge vision

This week’s contributions come from Martin Rolfs. He’s kindly permitting me to show not one, but two posters. Click to enlarge!

This one was presented at the 2014 Vision Sciences Society meeting in St. Pete Beach, Florida.

There’s a few notable elements here. First, the authors have put picture of themselves. I’m not a huge fan of this approach, but these photos are relatively unobtrusive, good images, and they help with the overall “street wall” aesthetic.

I love that the first part of the poster is titled, “What’s this about?”, which gets to the point and fits the informal graphic style of the poster. From there, things flow well to the experiment, results, and conclusion. I was a little unsure when I was supposed to read “Determining the time course” in the lower left corner, though.

Here’s the second poster, presented at the European Conference on Visual Perception in Belgrade, 2014.

This one is, in my mind, a little less successful than the first.

The poster again starts strong with “What this is about”. But after that, the reading order is less clear. Perhaps because this poster is in portrait orientation rather than landscape, the material on this poster is too crowded together. For example, the Y axis label is almost touching the arrow emerging from “Evidence for signal”. The results and the all important bottom line are not as clearly highlighted and differentiated as in the previous poster.

The colour scheme also feels less successful; the bright yellows feel a little too garish for my taste. Likewise, I think the idea of using red and green in the title is to exemplify chromatic contrast, but when I look at the title, I just think of Christmas. The colours in the title might violate the Sommese rule: type it, or show it, but don’t do both.

Martin’s posters are fascinating because they have a strong graphic sensibility, which is rare enough in academia. But even more rare is something that embraces grunge typography. Some examples of the form, courtesy of a Google image search:

This is not a neat look. There is splatter and rough edges. Despite the rough look, it takes skill to bring it all together. I appreciate Martin’s skill in creating such a strong visual identity for his posters.

External links

The rise and fall of grunge typography

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