Archive for January, 2010

Plakatstil was an early poster style of art that began in the early 1900s and originated out of Germany. First started by Lucian Bernard in 1906. “Plakatstil” means “poster style” in German. The traits of this style of art are usually bold, straight font with very simple design. Shapes and objects are simplified while the subject of the poster remains detailed. Plakatstil incorporated color combinations not seen in other art forms such as Art Nouveau. Plakatstil shied away from the complexity of Art Nouveau and helped emphasize a more modern outlook on poster art. Famous Plakatstil artists include Berliner Lucian Bernhard and artist Ludwig Hohlwein.

Plakatstil, German “Poster Style” begun in 1905 by Lucien Bernhard in Berlin and in Munich by Ludwig Hohlwein. For a poster competition sponsored by Preister matches Bernhard took the novel approach of drawing two large matches and writing the brand name above them in clean, bold letters. The stark simplicity of the design won him the competition. Bernhard’s minimalized naturalism and emphasis on flat colors and shapes made his work the next step towards creating an abstract – and modern – visual language.


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Heraldry  is the general name of the  professions carried on by the officer of arms, dating back to Middle Ages. As a symbol system, its origins can be traced back to predynastic Egypt which made use of the symbol serekh to signify a variety of meanings from labels to military alliances.  It is now a complex historical study regarding the art of devising, granting and blazoning arms as  on questions of ruling, ranking and protocol.  Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman word herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, “army commander”.  The word, in its most general sense, encompasses all matters relating to the duties and responsibilities of officers of arms. From a visual communication perspective; however,  heraldry is the practice of designing, displaying, describing, and recording coats of arms and badges. The origins of heraldry address an identification problem: the need for distinguishing participants in combat when their faces were hidden by iron and steel helmets.

The rules and terminology of heraldry differ from country to country and different national styles had developed by the end of the Middle Ages, but there are some aspects that carry over internationally. Over all heraldry make use of a complex and not-always-consistent rules of signification, webs of symbols to enhance this design system with meanings in reference to ranks and hierarchies, social networks, property rights, etc.   Though heraldry is nearly 900 years old, it is still very much in use. Many cities and towns in Europe and around the world still make use of arms.

Heraldry is an endless subject for exploration with increasingly complex rules, different national styles, debates on genealogy and dynamic systems of signs and symbols. For those who want to dig deeper on the subject:

A  20 page “Manifesto of Complete Arms of the Russian Empire” (1800) & various examples of heraldic design:

*click to enlarge

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