Autumn 2006

Fragmented relationships

Type, Image, Message: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop

By Nancy Skolos and Tom Wedell
Rockport Publishers,

Type and image, like all partnerships, can suffer the occasional disagreements and differences. ‘When type meets image, there is automatically a dialogue between them, and each can pull the other in many different directions,’ write Nancy Skolos and Tom Wedell. Partners in life and in business, they affirm this in their intelligently written and premised workshop primer on how to design with type and image. Type, Image, Message is focused primarily on poster design, ‘because posters transcend and propel layout into a realm where type and image can combine seamlessly.’

The main chapters cover the ‘four critical relationships’: ‘Separation’ – where type and image operate independently; ‘Fusion’ – where type and image merge into one entity; ‘Fragmentation’ – where type and image displace one other (disturb or disrupt each other); and ‘Inversion’ – where ‘type and image trade places and the type takes on pictorial properties or the image takes on typographic qualities.’

Further sub-sections illuminate specific notions contained in each critical relationship, using meticulously chosen contemporary posters. So, for example, ‘Interactive Separation’ is aptly illustrated by Jonathan Barnbrook’s personal political posters, which encourage viewers to interact with the meaning of the message by filling in a ‘speech bubble’ positioned in the mouth of an internationally known politician.

Skolos and Wedell’s own signature style – often referred to as ‘Techno Cubist’ – developed when they merged design and photography vocabularies to produce experimental surreal images using collage (‘often a fertile starting point’), texturing and layering. Here they recruit one of their own exemplary projects, their 2005 Lyceum Competition poster, to explain the notion of ‘Fragmentation with Collage’, showing how they ‘build’ their poster, one step at a time. You can follow their process as they fragment the concept from different viewpoints, where multiple viewpoints are represented, if not literally, then conceptually.

Neither portfolio-style eye-candy, dry-toast scholarship, or how-to textbook, this book will find its own niche with design students and professionals. Despite its subtitle, it is definitely, thank goodness, too sophisticated for the DIY crowd.

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