Ralph Schraivogel is a celebrated contemporary Swiss poster designer, whose work often plays with curving pattern, image, and type to create ambiguous spatial effects. The poster presented here, Paul Newman, Filmpodium Zurich, evolves from a quite different design aesthetic and tradition. This compelling poster has been compared to the inventive, puzzle like, modernist posters of Paul Rand, especially Rand's Dada poster (1951) which invites reading in both a vertical and horizontal orientation.
The Newman poster similarly has to be understood simultaneously in multiple directions. Schraivogel's clever and sophisticated design approach is reflected in the way he plays on the double reading of the actor's last name by laying out the typography so that the letters N and W form the first syllable of the actor's last name, while the M and N form the second syllable of his name, thereby creating a tight and unified composition. Schraivogel allows Newman's photographed facial features to bleed through the typography at key intersections, directing the viewer's gaze to actor's mouth and his eyes. He completes the visual play by incorporating the word Paul to form the actor's nose. Finally, Schraivogel employs color to pull the viewer first to the N and then to the M in which appear the actor's immediately identifiable blue eyes.