18 thoughts on “Int’l Male Posters

  1. Yes, we used a very simple grid based on four orientation points and a square inscribed in the standard (for the U.S. music community) ledger-sized page. Type is set in whole sizes (from the traditional Fibonacci-stranded system) which is a discipline I picked up in Basel.

    The point was to spend as few studio resources on fudging with the layout as possible, so that we could spend as much time writing as we could — the copy drives each one of these.

    Much love for the juice. We’re big fans of your site, by the way.

  2. Good post Antonio, very nice work Adam. I’m interested in hearing more about this stranded system you mentioned. Where could I find out more?


  3. Adam, thanks for the kind words and thanks for commenting. It’s always great to get some info from the actual designers. As MP, I would love to get more info Fibonacci-stranded system. For type I always use the whole number scale in the Adobe apps: 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 18, 24, 30, 36, 48, 60, 72. Is that what you’re referring to?

  4. Yeah, I’m afraid I made it sound more exotic than it actually is. I had the honor of being able to attend Weingart’s summer program a couple years ago, and one of the most powerful lessons I took home was the importance of setting limits. In the program, we’d work with three set sizes of type; I was freaked out at how many solutions presented themselves to a given problem when I didn’t have the option of infinite variation.

    At any rate, when I got home, I decided to limit myself to selecting from the traditional palette of sizes (digital type feels different, of course, than foundry sizes, but the principle still works). I fudge from time to time, but have kept the religion more or less for the last four years. The proportions are still valid, and the limits help keep me from complacency. Now, if I could keep from inscribing a square on every goddamn thing I do, that would be real progress.

  5. Hahah! Personally I hate infinite options, I love limiting myself, especially when it comes to typefaces and type sizes. I have a font collection consisting of thousands of fonts and the thought of having to go through it to pick a face scares the shit out of me. That’s why I only use a handful of faces, not to mention that maybe 95% of the fonts in my collection just plain suck. Same goes for type sizes. I love using the scale because it makes like so much easier and it also provides and nice system that I can rely on. The only issue I have with it is when I have to set type at sizes larger than 72pt. I wonder if the scale continues past 72, I have to look into that.

  6. It does; I’ve seen 84, 96 and 127 point foundry type, so I allow myself those. The poster headlines are generally set in 84pt Basic Commercial (Linotype’s crib of Berthold AG Old Face).

  7. @ Ki Yoon. Lovely flash portfolio. Good to see another Flash enthusiast. 🙂 AS2 or AS3?


  8. First and foremost, thats one beautiful poster!
    But I have one question; What is the “Fibonacci-stranded system”? The term is new to me, although I know the Fibonacci system well…
    Is not the whole point of the system that the numbers share the proportions of the golden section? The Fibonacci-strand I know is 1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21-34-55-89 and so on (each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers) and the special thing about these numbers is that if you combine two of the numbers next to each other ( ex. 8-13) the proportions of these are close to the golden section (1:1.618)…
    So the number-strand mentioned in one of the earlier posts (6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 18, 24, 30, 36, 48, 60, 72) don’t have anything to do with the Fibonacci I know, or am I wrong? Please advise…

    By the way, I really appreciate AisleOne, keep up the good work!

  9. My understanding has been that the classical sizing of type bodies was loosely based on the golden section — by using the word “stranded” I was referring (again, loosely) to Corbusier’s Modulor, which uses two stranded golden section-based proportion series: the red and blue scales. The two series, listed as integers, gives a smoother-looking progression than the Fib sequence, although there are actually two Fib sequences leapfrogging each other.

    As you said, in the classical Fib sequence, each number is the sum of the two preceding it; it doesn’t have to start at 1; the ratio is what’s important. That happens also in the type scale (e.g., 8+10=18; 18+30=48 and so on; that they leapfrog around a bit (9+11=20, etc.) made me suspect that there might be two or more such scales superimposed upon each other.

    I suppose I should come up with another term to describe it, though, as the body sizes of various typefaces have little to do with one another. Perhaps a more realistic way to approach it would be to derive your scale from your desired text size, irrespective of whatever the computer said it was in points: say 11.8pt is your root; next size up would be 19pt, and so on. Make up your own scale, based upon any ratio: Root-2, minor sixth. To me the scale’s the thing — deciding based upon practicality which notes you’re going to use, which key the piece is going to be in.

    Of course, the object in question is a gig poster with a picture of Ricardo MontalbĂ n executed in under thirty minutes, so that kind of takes the legs out of that argument.

  10. So Adam,

    Is that the method you used to create this poster? What specific font ratios did you use in this example? Sorry if that’s a dumb question.


  11. Adam: Thanks for clearing that up for me. I must say I agree with you when it comes to using the classic Fibonacci strand for deciding type-size. I’ve tried it several times and although I like the contrast it gives, I usually end up modifying it the solve the different “tasks” at hand, especially since it has no number which seems appropriate size for running text (at least when it comes to the typefaces I usually preferr).
    Your tip on deciding text-size fist and then using the principle of Fibonacci (or other models) to make out the other sizes seems like a clever way to go about it.
    When it comes to Le Corbusiers modulor, I must admit that although I know of it, I don’t know it well enough to use it so I guess I’ll have to look into that.

    Antonio: thanks for the link to the scale-article.

  12. Okay, if the posts here has established one thing, it’s the fact that I’m unable to stop when I should. Being a stubborn individual born and grown at the coast of northern Norway, that is the price I pay…

    After eight years in the business of graphic design I guess I’ve only learned one thing (which oddly enough seems to be the lesson at the end of everything we humans get into): I know nothing! I’ve been reading all the books I can find which promises to reveal the secret of our trade, I’ve checked out all the so-called masters of our craft, I’ve spent way too many hours on the net trying to find the secret formula. The truth is that there is no such formula. At the end of the day, it is all up to you and your eyes…

    The article Antonio mentioned above is great, and I’m a little bit ashamed that I didn’t recognized the strand of typesizes he mentioned, as they are the classic sizes (yes, I’ve read my Robert Bringhurst, which I strongly recommend to anyone who loves typography). I agree with what I see as the message of the article; don’t trust your software to decide on important matters like the size of type you are using! At the same time no-one should think that the afore-mentioned article holds any keys to making great design. Mark Boulton writes great stuff and has immense knowledge of our field of work, but the article should be read with Adams comment in mind, “To me the scale’s the thing”. The classic type-sizes are a great tool to base your work on, but it is still up to you to find the sizes that work together and add that extra touch to your work which makes it great instead of okay. Combining 10 point and 11 point type solves nothing, although both sizes are part of the classics…
    There is no strand of numbers, no formula, no grid that can do this for you. Its all up to you and your eyes.

    Since I’m ranting and raving like a madman here, I want to stress two things:
    1. Thats one beautiful poster. Yes, you spent 30 minutes making it, but I’m sure you spent a few hours at the start of the project setting the rules that made you able to solve such a task in just 30 minutes. And after all, thats what we do as graphic designers, we work to find solutions to problems. I would gladly buy a print of your poster and hang it on my wall!

    2. I really appreciate AisleOne. It’s a great webpage/blog, and I visit it everyday. There is (almost) always new posts which teach me new aspects of my favourite subject. Keep up your excellent work!

    If there is something in this post that is misspelled or hard to understand, it’s because I’m (as I said) a stubborn bastard from northern-Norway. Sorry 🙂


  13. Ole-M, thank you for the kind words and for reading this blog. I very much appreciate it.

    I do agree with that you can’t just use the traditional scale and expect to create great design, but I do believe that type sizes should stay within that scale. A lot of designers set arbitrary type sizes like 13.43 and don’t even realize it. As long as it “looks right” it’s all fine to them. I see it all the time. There is a scale in place for a reason and designers to adhere to it.

  14. The system behind the Int’l Male posters calls for sizes of 84, 36, 20 and 12 points. We like to keep it to the first three, but we had a new drink to hustle on this one and needed an extra level of information. There is some variation from poster to poster: the “Here’s to Life” piece used a 144pt headline, for example.

    But we chose those proportions based on what we thought would hang together best, not according to a mathematcal formula or program. I love me some Gerstner, but still haven’t been able to get my pygmy West Coast intellect around much of “Designing Programmes”, though I wish to hell I could.

    Ole, thanks for your compliments. If you want to send your snail-mail coordinates to the info mailbox on our home page, I’ll send you a copy of the poster in the name of furthering international relations. It seems like the least I can do. Fair warning: these are quick and dirty digitals, and the cardinal rule of design publication applies: to wit, everything looks better smaller. Sometimes much better.

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