Refections: 10 Qualities of Design

In today’s digital world, the opportunity to design a print poster for the purpose of promoting an event is rare. When the Fashion Institute of Technology approached me to design a poster for their newly formed Visiting Artist Program, I immediately said yes.



Their brief was very succinct: create a poster announcing a designer’s lecture, while adhering to strict budgetary constraints. One poster quickly multiplied to two. A dozen years later they accumulated to a collection of twenty-four. Looking back and reflecting on the work, I have identified ten qualities that make the posters enduring.

I work by subtraction. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of a subject in order to develop a strong idea.

1. Clarity of Message

It is my responsibility to ensure that the message conveyed is clear and meaningful. Type size, style and color are used to highlight the most important information

2. Dramatic Proportion and Scale

My work pushes the limit of scale and legibility to create engaging and monumental forms. This attracts attention and inspires interest from my audience.

3. Geometry and Mathematical Proportion

The elements and compositions in my work are built from geometry and use mathematical proportions to achieve balance and beauty.

4. Emphasis on Typography

I develop custom letterforms to create compositions based upon the lecturer’s initials. This brings originality and uniqueness to each poster.

5. Grid-based Composition

Every poster starts with the development of a grid system. I use the grid and an underlying structure to support the typography and bring order to the composition.

6. Reduction of Elements

I work by subtraction. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of a subject in order to develop a strong idea and know what can be taken away without diminishing the message.

7. Differences within Consistency

I challenge myself to create different and changing forms for each poster while still maintaining a consistent visual vocabulary throughout the series. This ensures a memorable identity for the lecture program as a whole.

8. Elements of Surprise

When appropriate, I like to incorporate a playful or surprising element into the design. These elements give viewers and unexpected and delightful experience.

9. Pursuit of Excellence

From the overall composition to the tiniest typographic detail, I strive to achieve the highest level of excellence. This includes working with quality printers and paper manufacturers.

10. Iterate, Refine, and Repeat

Good design takes time to develop. It’s a process that requires study and reflection. I challenge you to slow down and take the time to create the best design possible.

*Rocco Piscatello’s Reflection was originally published in Poster works for FIT: Publication. 

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