The Power of Propaganda Art
It’s very easy to spend time looking at other great websites. That’s useful, but if that’s our sole source of inspiration then web design is going to become increasingly generic, however advanced our technical ability becomes. Web design is an art form. Like all artists, web designers should be seeking inspiration from as many different sources as possible. One of my favorite types of medium is propaganda art, and it’s also an art form that I think transfers very well to a web format.
Provoking an emotional response
Yes, it’s great to have a website that has solid layout, and presents information effectively. Good art should provoke an emotional response too, whatever that response is. Web design is a coming together of form and function, and much of what is written about the medium focuses too much on function. I don’t simply want to make it easy for a visitor on a website to find information or complete a transaction, I want them to want to take these options.
Propaganda is an art form that is deliberately designed to provoke an emotional response. Through the use of bold imagery, simple wording and (often) selective presentation of facts, good propaganda art makes people feel a certain way or want to do a certain thing. From its most commonly accepted use as a form of political messaging, propaganda art is used widely in product advertising, logo design and increasingly in web design. Understanding art that can provoke this kind of response, and being able to implement it successfully, can positively influence a designer’s ability to motivate site users to take desired courses of action.
Well suited to the web medium
Propaganda art makes a bold statement. It often uses simple imagery, strong colors and large block lettering. These graphic elements translate well to web design both from an artistic and a technical standpoint. Propaganda art is intended to convey a message clearly, simply, and provoke an action or response, usually the same aims as a website! A good example is the Level 2D Blog, which uses aspects of propaganda color and typography for the clean and attractive presentation of information.
Of course the Level 2D Blog uses elements of propaganda art within an overall design. This is the difference between replication and inspiration! Like any art form, there are many aspects of propaganda that can be integrated into web design. It is this integration that demonstrates the importance of using wider inspiration in order to give a greater artistic impact to web design.
Great art is great art
Web design is art, though it may not always be accepted as such. Propaganda art is just one of many forms of inspiration, and obviously may not always be appropriate to the task at hand. The many galleries of “great websites” and other online resources have their place, but it’s vital that as web designers we avoid becoming too self-referential about our work.
Image of Che Guevara and ‘Solidaridad’ taken from the book Revolucion!: Cuban Poster Art.
‘Unswervingly protect Pyongyang’ taken from the book North Korean Posters.
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