Minimalism and its sub-genres play an important role in our visual world. Building on other art movements before it like the Bauhaus school, this 20th century movement is about simplicity and is the essence of “less is more.”
Minimalist art portrays the essentials. That makes it ideally suited for logos. And just like the advertising it so often adorns, it is everywhere.
Think of your favorite brands and products. Now think about their iconic logos. Shell Oil, the Golden Arches, the Playboy Bunny, Target, the Nike Swoosh, Microsoft Windows, VISA, Mastercard, IKEA, Cisco, Comfort Inn. All minimalist.
How about non-corporate logos that are minimalist? The World Wildlife Fund? Minimalist. The Red Cross logo? Minimalist. The Peace symbol? Minimalist.
Often the minimalist corporate logo, is accompanied by eye-catching lettering or a font that stands out from the ordinary. NASA font anyone? LEGO? Sometimes, just text IS the logo. IBM, FedEx, Kmart, Subway, PayPal. And many times the logo is really an icon.
Which leads to my next point. Icons are part of our daily lives now with the rise of smart phones. Due to the small space available, icons are ideally suited for minimalist designs. Most of the social media app icons are minimalist. Facebook logo? Minimalist. Pinterest? Minimalist. LinkedIn. Minimalist.
How about Emojis? Minimalist. How about all the icons, aka “pictograms” associated with transportation? Minimalist.
Pictograms are a special form of minimalism. They relay critical information via a powerful visual and are a universal language that doesn’t need a translator. Think of the recycling icon or an escalator icon with an up or down arrow. Minimalist visuals so powerful they bypass the language barrier altogether and allow the user to rapidly process important information!
Minimalism lends itself well to posters. The large fields of “white space” often found in minimalist designs can be populated with important event information like name, time, admission price, and location. Almost any message will work, and minimalist designs seldom threaten to crowd out the creator’s message.
A fun resurgence in minimalist art has been the explosion of artists using software like Adobe Illustrator to recreate their favorite movie posters. Try a google search for your favorite movie using the words “minimalist” and “poster,” and see for yourself. I’ve even seen one example of an artist recreating famous movie posters using just pictograms. Clever and funny!
Although I’m starting to see a backlash against the minimalist movement, (usually such criticism revolves around deconstruction being carried too far where everything becomes a joke or a puzzle the viewer has to solve), I would argue there will always be a place for minimalism. The “flat design” craze in apps and webpages since circa 2014 is just one example of this perfect fusion of practicality (flat design saves on coding and space) with eye pleasing graphics (widely regarded as clean, uncluttered and appealing).
I think of the minimalist movie poster phenomenon much like sarcasm; they are delightful intellectual snacks for your brain. I say, enjoy and savor the minimalism in your life!
All the artwork in this post was created in Microsoft Powerpoint using just the shapes tools. The font for the Austin Powers poster is called "Action Is" by braineaters.com. The "Duff" lettering below is hand drawn using the curve tool in Powerpoint. The Riddler is an original piece that just popped into my head. The others are faithful reproductions I've found across the web. As always, thanks for viewing!