Sunday, May 8, 2011

Postmodernism in Graphic Communication

The word "Postmodernism" is special indeed. Every Art movement that has the word "Post" in front of the actual name of the movement suggests that it is either  a replacement or this movement came after that one. Postmodernism was introduced in the end of the 20th century, when Modernism was dying slowly (Eskilson, 2007, 336).

Actually "Post" here means that it is against what Modernism stood for (Eskilson, 2007, 336). Postmodernism does what Modernism does, only it does not care if there were any mistakes, it honors itself for being this way. Unlike Modernism which feels sorry if the message does not reach the viewer they way it wants it, or if there is no message in the work (Woods, 1999, 8). Postmodernism does not follow one style of Art (Foster et al, 2004, 596). Post modern Graphic Design has special features including but not limited to: Using different typefaces randomly to distract the viewer, very messy pages, mistakes that are intentional and blurred photographs (Eskilson, 2007, 336;355). 

Postmodernism has no restrictions, this gave the designers the freedom for different approaches (Eskilson, 2007, 355), which can be described as if you are giving people your inner experience, emotions, rather than facts, this will result in people not understanding what you are trying to say, or understand it in a wrong way (Frascina and Harris, 1992,98). Therefore it is totally against the restrictions of Modernism, where there is a true message behind the design, and this message should be delivered in the right way so that everyone can understand it (Frascina and Harris, 1992, 98). Now it is clear why many designers have rejected the Postmodern idea of design, especially the modernists as they followed a different route in order for their message to be clear (Poynor, 2003, 26). 

New styles like Postmodernism are unique and at the same time refreshing because of the features that are mixed randomly to create a free design that is not restricted by anything unlike the International style (Eskilson, 2007, 344). Sometimes when you remove the rules and express yourself, the result might be surprising and you could create your own style. This is what Postmodernism is about, although it is kind of a random process, but when you combine different elements together you have the chance to explore more and get creative with the design. It is about making people wonder about the design, what does he/she mean through this design? why did he/she use this instead of that?. This is the factor that makes your design special and in some cases unforgettable.


  • Eskilson, J.S. (2007). Graphic Design: A New History. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

  • Frascina, F., Harris, J. (1992). Art in modern culture: an anthology of critical texts. London: Phaidon Press Limited.
  • Foster, H. et al. (2004). Art since 1900, modernism, antimodernism, postmodernism. New York: Thames & Hudson.

  • Poynor, R. (2003). No more rules: Graphic design and postmodernism. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

  • Woods, T. (1999). Beginning postmodernism. Manchester: Manchester University Press.