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Stop, Think, Go, Do by Mirko Ilic, Steven Heller

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Graphic design focuses our eyes and mind on what
is already instinctively hardwired.
INFORM
“Knowledge is power,” Sir Francis Bacon wrote in 1597.
So, to inform an audience through designed messages
is to impart knowledge, which enables self-condfidence
and strength that leads to power. What better way to
influence behavior than to inform. Right? Therefore, this
book begins with a chapter devoted to designing frames
for the presentation of valuable (and not so valuable)
information. This is the broadest of the book’s categories,
since by definition the graphic designer’s single most
important job is to inform.
By processing information the receiver has the ability
to stop, go, think, do—we hope.
Often, however, information is just so much noise, empty
and unnecessary. Or it is propaganda, manipulated and
untrue, but made to be important. Or it is a hawker’s pitch,
the goal of which is to stimulate commercial, political,
or social obedience. Knowledge may be power, but
information is not a priori powerful. And yet whether true
or false, meat or fluff, smart or dumb, when information is
presented in a designed context with the intent of drawing
attention, it is given authority that it either deserves or not.
The designers represented in this section use various
means to present complex information simply or com-
plexly. Some are aesthetically striking, like the poster
series for Ugly Mug Coffee (page 25), which uses discordant
and variegated wood types in a particularly pleasing
typographic composition to present wordy pitches on
the efficacy of drinking java. Some are typographically
dynamic, like the series of event posters for Nouveau
Relax (page 32), which superimposes over photographs
of everyday situations—fish market, subway station,
streetscape—signs announcing art and culture activities.
Environmental super graphics are also a favored way of
informing. The Eureka Tower car park garage (page 38)
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is a illusionary game, whereby key words—UP, DOWN,
IN, OUT —are rendered at mammoth sizes in primary
colors. But that’s not all; from certain angles they are
read perfectly, yet from others they are distorted to give
the illusion they are posted in air. Another form of envi-
ronmental graphic is not super but it is exceptional: for
POEZIN (page 21), a veritable poster is made out of
colored gaffing tape on a hurricane fence. This one-of-
a-kind “rendering” is photographed for the final piece,
but anyone seeing the original will doubtless be drawn
in by its unconventionality. The POEZIN campaign also
extends to painting information on human bodies and
clothes in such a way as to grab the eye and not let go.
Along the same lines, mixing body art and taping
messages to an environmental surface, the poster campaign
for “Something Raw” for Theateer Frascati in Holland
(page 17), is comprised of bodies and faces evocatively
plastered with the event information using adhesive
materials. The idea for presenting information on the
human body started with tatooing, evolved into the less
permanent sandwich board signs, and then in 1999
Stefan Sagmeister etched information for an AIGA
lecture into his body with a razor blade, the bloody scabs
became the lettering.
Information can be presented in a straightforward
manner, like the poster “Osam Sati Rada, DVA Sata
Pozorista” (page 31), though bold type and neutral graphic
elements. The posters for Take One movie rental service
(page 22), include a bold headline, like “You can have
sex in a theater, but can you cuddle?” against a bright
orange field. Or a more demonstrative typographic
treatment draws attention.
Informing is tricky insofar as it is important not to
overpower the information with conceptual cleverness
or typographic conceit. This is way the advertisements
for Nissan Shift (page 23) using custom street signs to
promote its “free” GPS and air-conditioning is so smart.
The signs, produced in the manner of European street
markers suggest the alternatives to a/c: Heat Road, Humid
Avenue, Sizzle Street, Sweaty Boulevard. In the most
sublime way, these keywords trigger discomfort in the
reader, forcing them to appreciate the value of free air-
conditioning. Sure, many other car companies offer the
same amenity, but this campaign gets under the skin.
Informing is the job of graphic design. Causing the
receiver to act or alter behavior based on that information
is the goal. But turning the information into truly useful
knowledge is icing on the cake.
stop, think, go, do
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