Over There (in the UK)

February 26, 2003 at 7 PM

Aesthetic Apparatus

Maybe I just never noticed before, but it seems like there's been a real renaissance in poster art and design over the last few years. Vomit, pastel and neon -- to name just some of the inspirations of previous decades -- have gently evaporated to reveal a movement towards a pre-digital style with origins in Art Nouveau. Hand-drawn illustrations are prominent. The type recalls hot metal and the letterpress both in the choice of fonts and the purposefully imperfect layout. Colours seem to spill messily over their intended edges.

The style is perhaps just another facet of a recent post-modern movement in design which looks farther and farther back in the past for inspiration. Art deco and its brand of modernism have never seemed more popular in commercial graphics and even with the public at large.

One font I use on this site, Mrs. Eaves, is so ubiquitous now on book jackets, that I have considered removing it for fear of seeming passé. Yet I find its playful impression of old letterpress type irresistable and I love the quaint feel it lends to the page.

At times I wonder if the style is mere nostalgia, but there is no doubting its triumph as a revival. Moreover, the best designers (and I don't claim to be one) use it as but one component of their work, not as the entire basis.

Nowhere is the revival more successfully married with a contemporary sensibility than in posters, where, spared from the tyranny of small paper and eye-maiming monitors, designers are often given more freedom to play. Shuffle on over to Aesthetic Apparatus to appreciate the fine work of one design shop that excels at such work. They specialize in posters for live music, but even their logo and package design is enough to get me salivating.

Particular favourites: bringing back brown, a swirl-free logo, and effective use of cream. And did I mention they have a nice web site?

(Link snagged from Rebecky, a rather talented designer on her own right who, I noticed, also can't resist Mrs. Eaves.)


Wow. Aesthetic Apparatus has great stuff. Got a Rollins poster for the wife.

By the way, Mrs. Eaves is cool, don’t discard it just because of its ubiquity.

Beerzie Boy | Feb. 27, 2003 — 11 AM

how could i resist using mrs. eaves with that -cky ligature built right into the expert set?

the low-fi design aesthetic you’re talking about probably has a lot to do with the actual renaissance in old-fashioned production techniques. letterpress is suddenly huge, and all those posters are screen-printed. i guess it’s a reaction to the dtp revolution and 10 years of all those crappy photoshop filters used to poor effect.

not on this site though; it looks great.

rebecca | Mar. 3, 2003 — 1 AM

Previously: My People Just Want to Be Left Alone

Subsequently: Desktops for the Masses

February 2003
the Archives

In Earshot

I only really read it for Canucks coverage, but even still it’s nice that The Vancouver Sun finally redesigned its hideously awful website to look like it was designed this century.

On pizza box art

Web 2.Origami

Welcome to Obama, Japan

The Toronto Star shows where and how the seats changed in the 2008 election

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In Frame

Photo of Madrid Modern Photo of Wasp Photo of Hairy and Stripy Cactus Photo of Stripy