Ralph Schraivogel is considered one of the best poster-makers in the world today, and he shows why in this ingenious poster for a Paul Newman film festival in Switzerland. The design fits together like a layered visual puzzle, and the viewer is compelled to “read” every part – first, the image of a face, second the word ‘Paul’ in the center, third the word ‘New’ starting at the bottom, and last, ‘Man’ starting at the top.
Schraivogel cleverly gets double duty from the letters ‘N’ and ‘W’ by turning them upside down so that they become an ‘N’ and an ‘M’, thus keeping the design compact and unified. He employs color theory to make sure the viewer reads the ‘N’ before the ‘M’ – the yellow pops while the blue recedes. In a similar fashion, the eye naturally moves to the red ‘E’ before the ‘A’.
The tight interplay between word and image is augmented by the fact that Newman’s eyes are blue – which any fan would know is (very) true. And the location of the event in Filmpodium’s Studio 4 emanates from the cut of the ‘N’, which looks similar to a cartoon caption.
In the end, the poster is enigmatic and yet perfectly readable, playful yet cerebral, and as memorable as it is unique, molding the abstract language of graphic design to its purpose. In its multi-layered patterning and playfulness, Schraivogel’s work is reminiscent of Herbert Matter and Wolfgang Weingart, both titans of 20th Century graphic design. This silkcreened poster garnered the Gold Medal at the Ningbo International Poster Exhibition in China for Schraivogel, who is represented in the Museum of Modern Art and other important design collections. The artist is a former professor at the Zurich Design School and now designs full-time.