Bradbury Thompson Influence Project

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For my poster design, I chose to take influence from the designer, Bradbury Thompson. I chose him because I admired how he experimented with typography, color, and imagery as he layered material to create new, unique designs. I enjoy the simplicity of his design and the quirky way he combines a CMYK color scheme in many of his designs with distinct imagery that you may not first associate with one another. Thompson was a hugely influential graphic designer with a prolific career in book, magazine and stamp design.

Many of his designs feature a central image in multiples, which is why I decided to layer 4 images of a bike on top of one another. I found the image on a free image website and then began to edit the image in Photoshop. I first cut the bike from the image, fine-tuned everything with the eraser tool, and then turned it to greyscale, as most main imagery from Thompson is black. I also chose a photograph rather than an illustration of a bike because many of his works feature real photos, rather than drawings.

Many of Thompson’s works feature the use of CMYK colors. For my stripes, I utilized these colorings. Many of his designs play with the transparency of the different shades. I chose to minimally lighten the cyan, keep the magenta opaque, and significantly increase the transparency of the yellow so that the black dots used in my image would shine through and create a layered feel. I also used the stripes to play with Thompson’s use of geometric shapes in his designs. In some of his designs other than his well-known CMYK designs, Thompson utilizes halftones to add detail. I did this with the black halftone dots to add more complexity to my design. I had problems adding the halftones on Illustrator, so I ended up just adding a pattern to my shape, yet I am pleased with how it turned out.

Thompson was known for his own font he developed, called Alphabet 26. I could not find his font online for free, so I used a similar font called Mean 26 that was inspired by Thompson. His style simplified the letters, where uppercase and lowercase forms of each letter were the same and the case was expressed only through letter size.  I chose to use this same style as I felt it goes with many of his designed pieces which all use this same typography. However with the font I chose, the numbers were much larger than the text even when applied in the same size. I tinkered with this some and tried to make the size smaller so they would match, yet I decided to keep it this way as I felt it made the typography look more unique and less traditional. It also added more emphasis to the numbers which I thought made sense because the 500 is such an integral part of the race, and the dates are important to be emphasized so viewers know when the event is being held. I also chose to line my “Little 500” text up with the cyan stripe, as Thompson likes to play with the placement of his typography. I also intentionally lined up the bike tire to fall in between the two words, as I felt this tied things together more.

If I were to do anything differently or create this project again, I would choose a more illustrative designer, to work more with creating more difficult imagery on my work. I think it would be interesting to play with texture more, but most of Thompson’s work does not utilize texture. I believe that I was somewhat successful in taking influence from Thompson. I created a design with use of geometric shapes, a central image, CMYK color scheme, halftones, and typography similar to what he would use in his designs. I could have done better with the differences in opacity that he frequently used. I felt that in my final design the difference wasn’t distinct enough. I also could have worked to take a different approach and take more inspiration from his work unassociated with CMYK, or his vast stamp work. However I am happy with my design and look forward to furthering my Photoshop and Illustrator skills more.