Design & Typography Critique: The Public Theater

This is a design & typography critique of the Public Theater’s “Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk” by Paula Scher I did at the University of Technology, Jamaica, during my degree in communications.

Related: The Three Best Jamaican Graphic Design Schools

The Pubic Theatre Typography and Design Crtique

Colours

Although non-verbal, colour is powerful and can express and transmit meanings and messages that elicit different people’s reactions. The three primary colours used in the design include yellow, black and red. Yellow, often seen as a cheerful, playful and optimistic colour, is used as the background of the image.

The theory behind yellow is that it is the most visible colour from a distance, and it communicates an energetic and joyful atmosphere. There is a section on the poster that says, “BRING IN DA NOISE, BRING IN DA FUNK! “And a man dancing, reassuring the viewer that it’s going to be entertainment. The black used for most of the copy creates a well-balanced contrast between light and dark, making it possible for people to read quickly.

Red is symbolic for strength, trust and power, but because of its powerful meanings, red is handled discreetly on the poster. Red is used as an accent to stand out from black and yellow and is used to highlight additional information and to draw attention to lines such as “MEMBERSHIP IS EASY!”

Imagery

The designer also seems to be employing the rule of thirds to make the tap-dancing man more visually appealing by moving him more towards the left instead of leaving him dead centre. The position also allows readers to imagine that the man is dancing as well. Using a black and white image also creates a distinct contrast between the man and the background, which is great for visibility.

Typography

Typography is “The study and ‘process’ of typefaces”. The designer used a large number of fonts to list all the shows available at the Public Theater. The main heading “The Public Theater” takes up a majority of the page as it is the logo of the Theater. The size of the logo also serves the role of building hierarchy so it stands out amongst the chaos of “dancing” text.

The copy, while looking like a massive jumble of random words are quite useful in highlighting the energy of The Public Theater. However, it runs the risk of confusing a passer-by.  The driver would not run the risk of stopping their car in the street just to decipher the poster nor would someone stay in the middle of the road to bend their necks in varying directions just to see what it is saying.

Summary

Sometimes less is more, and I think The Public Theater went overboard with the text.

However, Paula Scher did manage to match the fonts, pairing short and tall fonts, big and small, slim and fat. The font variation creates some form of hierarchy and contrast, which I believe brings across legibility of text. However, considering that it is a text-heavy design, it does not follow the basic principle which states that the reader should be able to look around without getting lost or distracted quickly. But sometimes it is better to forgo the rules that have been hammered into our heads as graphic designers and push the boundaries of graphic design by experimenting with type, colour and images to create something truly amazing!

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