Swiss inspired Student Posters shine a new light on the IYL 2015

Over the past five years the University of the West of England (UWE) has been running a poster project for level 2 BA graphic design students.

Students are tasked to produce an A3 screenprinted, two-colour poster and each year we aim to tie the project in with a major national or international event. Previous years have seen posters produced for the 2012 Olympics, London Underground’s 150th anniversary and World War I commemorations. This year’s theme was The International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015) supported by the Institute of Physics.

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The design concept for this project is rooted in the traditions of the International Typographic Style, a design style developed in Switzerland in the 1950s. This ‘Swiss Style’ emphasizes clean, dynamic composition, with simple colour schemes and information hierarchy using sans serif typefaces, letterforms and shapes rooted in architectural structure.

Students studied the work of celebrated Swiss Style masters such as Armin Hofman, Joseph Muller-Brockmann and Max Bill. They were also encouraged to explore the IYL 2015 website to help them contextualize their own work and inspire thematic ideas beyond the obvious.

After research, students were supplied with a simple grid format to work with. They were also given a set of type sizes and typefaces to choose from. Artwork for the poster had to be created in a one-day workshop and prepped for screenprinting the following week. This emphasized the speed with which posters often had to be created during the ‘Golden Age’ of poster design in the 1920s and 30s.

The work created by our students saw a wide range and variety of approaches. Some students chose to use familiar and recognizable images of light ‘rays’, beams and waves while others have taken inspiration from starlight, cosmic anomalies and other scientific phenomena.

We’ve been really pleased with the students’ work, and it shows they thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of creating posters for this significant scientific anniversary.


10547640_10152626449216303_7780178663625842766_nGabriel Solomons is both a practicing graphic designer and senior lecturer at the Bristol School of Creative Arts. Alongside working with design clients, he has been responsible for developing a number of trade publications that cover areas of film, design, fandom and fashion, all of which aim to further our understanding of collaborative practice and explore the wider influence of creativity in society. Alongside lecturing, he is currently innovation manager and book series editor at Intellect, a UK based publisher specialising in the fields of creative practice and popular culture. His current projects include both editing and art directing the “World Film Locations” book series that explores the relationship between the city and cinema and “Fan Phenomena”, a book series that decodes icons of popular culture.

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