Minimalist posters: "lack of nuance disguised as insight"


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Well no, I don’t see it, not even after explanation. But for some reason other people’s poster concepts don’t piss me off. I wonder why that is. I can certainly find enough things in the world to be angry at, after all. Could it be that this is something no one else actually cares about but Brownlee, and possibly not even him?

Everything should be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.

  • Albert Einstein

Well yes, precisely what I was thinking. Not everyone is a star wars fan.

I saw it initially as an optical illusion actually, though that might be that I’m a little tired this morning.

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Even if you don’t get a highly reduced graphic it on first glance-- even if it only makes sense after an explanation–it can still be useful in, say, an icon in a GUI. Of course if it makes sense even on first glance it’s even more useful and intuitive in a GUI.


Now that’s what i call an insightful minimalist post.

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I tend to agree with the author, but I would say that this is really only an issue for me with posters. Minimalist designs are often welcome with something that gives it a bit of context, like a logo.

I saw a series once that was literally just a solid color fill, maybe even on boingboing, lol.

I’ve wondered why minimalism is so popular nowadays. The cynic in me wants to say that people that are more well to do want the simulacrum of simplicity without the austerity often associated with the less fortunate. Perhaps it’s a rebuttal of the dense chaos, urban or otherwise, that seems to drive modern life.

Then again, maybe I’m being unfair. When I was a teenager and was first introduced to minimalist art, I had a pretty negative reaction. It just seemed like a sham. A lot of the art didn’t seem to have much intrinsic appeal - you had to be in on the conversation to be able to appreciate it. That being said, aesthetics didn’t really play into it much for me, I just rejected the art out of principle. I didn’t think it was right for anyone to gain fortune off of things that took such little effort on their part, and seemed to say so little (I’m looking at you Klein…).

As an adult, I’ve tried to have a more nuanced view, but I can’t say these feelings have ever left me.

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That was exactly what I saw.

The thing is, if the rounded the top ends and slightly blurred them, and perhaps even allowed a little transparency, this would have been more obvious yet still minimalistic.

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I have lots of cares about this, I’m sure, but mainly this isn’t a poster for Return of the Jedi because the color of the second lightsaber is wrong. Actually, they both suck: the “red” is basically pink.



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Man, I miss Brownlee. Even if I don’t agree with his opinion (not so in this case), I always find it to be an entertaining read.

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Light red ≠ pink. Sorry, that sounded terse. I don’t mean it as a criticism, just a clarification. Pink has blue in it, light red does not. None of which negates your claimed observation, of course— a display’s color profile can easily be calibrated such that Darth’s lightsaber appears pink.

If everything was removed from that photo except Darth’s lightsaber, I would definitely call it pink.

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Dogbert’s Brown Circle of Quality!

Not so terse, but completely inaccurate, color theory-wise. True pink has no blue in it whatsoever.

Pure Red + pure white = pink.
Red + small amount of blue + some white = colors simliar to pink but variously called names like fuscia/raspberry/orchid/magenta/mauve etc.


The way a floppy disk icon means “save” in a GUI despite many younger users never having used a floppy to save anything?


I wish I could agree with you— my instinct is to find common ground —but there doesn’t seem to be a single wavelength that yields pink as most people envision it. Emphasis on that latter clause, though: the main source of discord in these types of discussions is semantics. Show someone a swatch of pure red (700 nm), tinted with white compared to some shade of blue and they’ll see that color as ‘pink’. Compare that same swatch to violet-red (700 nm + 400 nm) tinted with white and they’ll identify the latter color as either ‘pink’ or "more pink’. That said, my insistence three sentences ago that ‘pink’ cannot be defined by a single wavelength is an empirical contention, whereas the color comparison is phenomenological. Given that ’ color’ is a conscious experience, I’d give the latter perspective more weight.

[Edit: This writer agrees that the empirical perspective is irrelevant, and what’s more, he seems to agree with both of us in the sense that the perception of ‘pink’ is contextual and therefore, under certain conditions, tinted pure red is perceived as ‘pink’. And since color is a cognitive phenomenon, that’s sufficient to insist that it is pink.]

Actually, it’s:

“It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.”

“Simplify everything iff possible”

It looks like the different minimalist posters are trying to achieve different things. Is a movie poster supposed to represent everything about the movie, or even adequately summarise it? According to the creator, the movie posters “require some knowledge of movie genre, and [are] a riddle game for movie enthusiasts.” It’s not really about insight at all, it’s about making a recognisable reference to a movie with strict limitations on design. Philographics actually include the explanation, and are copying the mid-century aesthetic while providing a helpful mnemonic/graphical representation of philosophical ideas. Film architecture extracts a certain part of the aesthetic which contributes to the movie, but is often ignored. The Bible verses one is just trying to make the Bible and Christianity look relevant. I’m not so impressed by the economic concepts either - it doesn’t seem to add any insight and John Brownlee’s comment is fair here.

A similar style that seems a lot more common is kinetic typology. There are a number of good examples, but it can get pretty repetitive after a while: