Go ahead and dig through dense, deadly texts by people who pontificate on ligatures and color theory. But if you’re pressed for time and you want some more straightforward design advice, you may want to check out these typographic posters by Thierry Brunfaut of Brusells design studio Base.
Brunfaut gives himself a maximum of 300 seconds to crank out each poster, in a kind of graphic design equivalent of the timed sketch exercises popular in life drawing classes. The results are bold, no-frills typographic works that convey their design-related bits of wisdom in surprisingly powerful ways.
Where did he find inspiration for the project? “In my poor Belgian brain,” he says, laughing. This batch of 20 posters is the second series in the project, “Five-Minute Posters.” Brunfaut designed the first 20 typographic works back in November 2012. This time, he worked in a bespoke typeface, called Basetica, which his studio designed by fusing elements of the most popular sans-serif typefaces (Futura, Arial, Helvetica, Grotesk, and Century Gothic). “We wanted to get to some kind of neutrality, but of course you don’t find neutrality,” he says, as the typeface has a distinct character.
The phrases on Brunfaut’s posters are quick and punchy, but pack a lot of wisdom into a few words. Brunfaut jots down ideas that pop up in meetings and while he’s designing; these turn into his maxims. Most are self-explanatory: “Don’t design for brands. Design for people interacting with brands.” But others, such as “Design Beautifugly,” are playfully cryptic. As to how this portmanteau originated, Brunfaut says, “I really like the idea of letting the ugly get in between things that are supposed to be beautiful. A lot of times designers are obsessed with everything being beautiful, and that puts a constraint in your head. I push my teams to try things that you’re somehow not allowed to do, to let the ugly become beautiful.” Hence, “beautifugly.”
Others phrases reveal how, as a designer, Brunfaut champions incorporating text into visuals. “Write and you’ll be a better designer,” one reads. Another says, “Words are my favorite visuals.” “A lot of designers don’t allow themselves to write,” Brunfaut says. “They always say, ‘I don’t know how to write,’ I need a copywriter. But I think everybody can write, and writing gives you visual ideas.”