Form follows Function

Neville Brody:

The layout for the Nike advertisement Brody did, reminds me of the works of El Lissitzky and other artists from the Bauhaus modernism period.


  • 1866 - 1944
  • Russian Painter and Art Theorist.
  • Credited with painting purely Abstract works.
  • Studied Law and Economics at the University of Moscow.
  • He only began studying art and painting at the age of 30 - life drawing, sketching and anatomy.
  • Studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in 1896.
  • He returned to Germany in 1921 and worked at the Bauhaus until the Nazi’s shut it down in 1933.
  • He taught a basic design class at the Bauhaus, as well as Analytical drawing and a course dedicated to ‘Colour’.
  • He was particularly interested in forms study, points and line forms - he wrote 2 books discussing the matter.

Dada: The Revolt of Art by Marc Dachy

Emerging in 1996 from the melting pot of abstract painting and avant-garde poetry, Dada was a crisis in art, a leap outside the ranks of the “isms”, a complete insurrection. Reinventing the mechanisms of creation and thought, a group of young artist fundamentally changed the world’s conception of art. The incandescence and integrity of this individualist revolt were to become the yardstick for all avent-garde art in the future.

What Was Dada?

Dada was a word, a rallying symbol, an intentionally derisory anti-label. As a provocative slogan it wrong-footed the critics, who habitually pinned pejorative labels on new tendencies, such as Cubism. The tone was set: the Dadaists were not aiming to win over the critics, but to mock them.

Marian Bantjes

  • 1963 - Present
  • Canadian designer, artist, illustrator, typographer and artist.
  • She worked as a book typesetter from 1984 - 1994.
  • She became well known as a professional talented Graphic Designer from 1993 - 2003, when she was partner and senior designer at Digitopolis. 
  • She left to become a Graphic Artist.
  • Works primarily with type and ornament.
  • She is known for her highly detailed vector art, obsessive hand work, patterning and ornamental style work.
  • In 2005, she was named one of the top 25 up and coming designers to watch.
  • Her clients include Pentagram, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bruce Mau Design, Print Magazine, Wallpaper, WIRED, The Guardian and The New York Times.

I chose Bantjes as her work doesn’t really have one specific style. In image four you can see that her sketches for that particular type are very traditional, something you would see in an old book. But when you look at the fifth image, it’s completely different in that it has sharp edges and extremely straight lines and angles.

The only thing I can pick out from her work is the similar layouts. She includes a lot of writing on occasions yet manages to keep a fairly large amount of white negative space. 

I chose to include the first image as it she is showing her process through a project she was working on at the time. This is structure is similar to what I will be doing with my title designs and layout thumbnails.

Barbara Kruger

  • 1945 - Present
  • She works primarily in black and white.
  • Her typefaces include ‘Future Bold Oblique’ and ‘Helvetica Ultra Condensed’.
  • Her works are very aggressive and are made to put her point across.
  • She attended Parson’s School of Design.
  • Her work is often seen better at billboard size.
  • She has made covers for world famous fashion magazine Elle.
  • She is a huge feminist, which again compliments her aggressive tones.
  • She doesn’t often take the image herself, they are almost entirely found images from the past.
  • She’s a conceptual artist.
  • She sometimes uses poetry within her works.
  • Her themes include:
  1. Religion
  2. Sex
  3. Racial Abuse
  4. Gender Equality
  5. Consumerism
  6. Greed
  7. Power

Barbara Kruger is probably a popular Postmodernist artist to many people, however I definitely had to include her in my research even though she hasn’t designer her own typeface.

Her works are primarily made from found images which is something that attracted me in the first place. I’m fascinated by history and their black and white imperfect images create an amazing theme throughout her work.

She uses a red border to create a bold impact around her images but then also uses it as a background to her type. This makes you look towards the writing rather than the image and I think this a really great technique she has used. 

The first image above was created for one of many feminist demonstrations and the last image is of one of her most recent exhibitions. I think that this is unlike any other exhibition I have ever seen, as her work is quite literally everywhere and you are taken aback by how much impact it has on you. 

The second image is an example of how her type isn’t always horizontal. She does use angles and varying sizes of text which show’s she isn’t afraid to mix it up a little too.

Michael C Place:

  • Founder of Build.
  • He first worked with Trevor Jackson in London.
  • He arrived at The Designers Republic in 1992 and worked there for 9 years.
  • He studied Graphic Design at Newcastle from 1988 - 1990 but it ultimately didn’t work for him as he primarily wanted to work on record sleeve design and doesn’t hide the fact that he left after two years.
  • in 2000 he took a break from design and went on a 10 month world trip and on his return began the foundations for Build.
  • He features in the Helvetica Feature Film (2007).

There’s a great interview with the man himself on the Computer Art’s website.

I chose to look at Michael C Place based on the fourth image above. I love his approach to typeface in that he doesn’t stick to the standard formations of the single letter. Although that image doesn’t advertise a font, the third image does. The word is made up of shapes and flowing lines and I really think that it works well. 

I found the third image on the Form Magazine website, in which Build had been hired to design their ‘poster’. I genuinely think that it is a beautiful simple piece, with lots of white negative space emphasising the opacity of the bright bold colours.

Post Modernism

Studio Dumbar:

  • An international agency with a Dutch heritage.
  • "Visual branding, online branding".
  • It involves a strong expertise on communication and branding.
  • Studio is lead by Liza Enebeis, Karmen Kekic and Tom Dorresteijn.
  • It was founded in The Hague, 1977 by Gert Bumbar.
  • Located in Rotterdam, Shanghai and Seoul. 
  • Their most recent work was advertisements for classical music group, The Amsterdam Sinfonietta (some of which are featured above).

I chose this group as I thought their work had a great personality too them and you could see that they clearly new their style and what direction they went in. 

Some of the featured posters for The Amsterdam Sinfonietta remind me of something quite modernist which is perhaps another reason I was attracted to their work.

Their backgrounds are generally quite hectic; still using standard shapes like the modernists but twisting them and manipulating them into something obscure and abstract. They have similar qualities to the 1960s. The second image resembles folded paper, and their logo also includes folded paper which I really love as it gives their work texture and gives the audience a sneak peak into the work they do. 

While the backgrounds are extremely bold and busy, their typography is very simple and fairly straight forward. This offers a calming affect to their dizzy backgrounds. 


  • 1887 - 1948
  • He worked closely in Surrealism, Constructivism, Dada and Sound.
  • He had a passion for Poetry.
  • Graphic Design is his main area of work.
  • However, he does include illustration and typography within his works.
  • He is most famous for his collages.
  • Merz Collage Barn - a barn he purchases from a family he started living with that became a huge piece of art. You can still see it today.
  • His semi-abstract work led to meetings with the Berlin Avante-Garde.
  • He has also worked in Sculpture.

I chose Schwitters as although he is definitely a Modernist artist, his work borderlines Postmodernism as it is unlike any other artist of his time. I think as he travelled a lot due to the Nazi’s invading his country, he wanted (and  had to) work with things he could find lying around.

Some of his work strongly represents the modernism period such as image four - the bold colours and block shapes again, were a main focal point in this period.

Joost Schmidt

  • 1893 - 1948
  • He was a master at the Bauhaus.
  • He has a Diploma in Painting.
  • Trained in wood-carving.
  • He was head of the Advertising, Typography, Printing and Photography department at the Bauhaus.
  • Schmidt was a Prisoner of War.
  • He became a draftsman and illustrator of maps
  • Had numerous design exhibitions in the USA.
  • He taught Lettering from 1925-1932, Sculpture Workshops from 1928-1930 and Life Drawing classes from 1929-1930.
  • He is most known for this advertisement poster for the Bauhaus exhibition in Weimar.
  • A Visionary Typographer.

I particularly love Schmidt’s work as they are very simplistic, using primarily straight lines and block shapes.

The way the type follows the famous shapes on his world renown Bauhaus advertisement, leads your eyes from the top of the page down to the adjacent words at the bottom.

All his work has a similar appearence, using blacks and warm oranges and reds on cream backgrounds. However, I chose the fourth image because I thought it looked quite different to his other work. It combines some clever photography and dark, subdued colours with minimal writing.