A Look into a Pictogram Poster

There are plenty of ways to use simple designs for posters, especially when it comes to movie posters. We have seen a major resurgence in the whole minimalist design format in recent years, and in 2011 especially. But older posters had them a lot, such as in the 1980’s when it was common place to see simple designs on low-key solid color backgrounds. That stopped for awhile when it became more popular to create manipulated images with busy backgrounds and the actors on the front.

Now we are seeing a lot of pictogram posters. But what are they, exactly? A pictogram poster is more or less anything that uses simple figures in black ink to create a wider image. They are stark and bare, very much minimalist and most commonly seen on things like signs. Since you can use that style to make anything it is a great way to design a modern-looking poster without a lot of fuss.

Check out these examples:

1. Irreversible


This controversial film is considered one of Monica Belluci’s best. Most posters are very dramatic and don’t give much away. This remake shows a man about to bash another one’s head in with a fire extinguisher. Anyone who has seen this film knows why and how this comes to be, and it is one of the two most notorious scenes in the movie. Of course, the first well known film might have been a bit tasteless to recreate, in a pictogram or not.

2. Spider-Man


This one might be considered just a little bit on the cheeky side. It shows a man with spider legs and some feelers on his head. It gets the point across, though it isn’t quite as polished as some of the other pictogram posters that were made for the same exhibit.

3. Tron


Every time I see this one (and I have seen it a lot) I think of some cyclists on a bicycle ramp. Maybe that is because it is how they genuinely look and it is hard to express a futuristic world lived inside of a computer through pictograms, or maybe just because I am not a fan of the movie. But either way, the effect is still a cool throwback for fans who will get the subtleties.

4. Sunshine


I love the use of hazard pictograms on posters of any kind since I am a big fan of the zombie genre and have been since I was a child. I also liked the war-era propaganda posters of the 30’s and 40’s. So seeing anything done with that style for a movie poster is always exciting, and this one managed to pull it off in a very creative way. The hazard sign has a sun in the center, making it relevant to the title.

5. Psycho


Every shower scene ever seems to go back to Psycho in my mind. Norman Bates is one of one of the greatest horror villains of all time, and it is no surprise that this movie is frequently called the best ever made. The poster captures the essence of it in such simple terms that it is astonishing: man, woman, shower, knife. Even without the title it would recognizable immediately.  I even heard the slashing noise in my mind when I look at it.

6. Devil


This wasn’t the best movie to be made recently, and in fact it was pretty awful. Even the maker of this poster admits he didn’t bother seeing it. But the pictograms are perfect. It shows a group of people standing in a box to signify the elevator. The last one has horns. In the end, that is literally all the film is about: a group of people, one is the Devil. So it seems appropriate.

7. Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary's Baby

This is a great one that once again gets the best of an old horror movie with one simple image. The baby carriage has a devil’s tale sticking out of the end, which tells you all you need to know. There is a baby, the baby is evil. Anything else added would have ruined the effect, which is actually kind of chilling. The pictogram is just like the film, which pushed boundaries by insisting that something so innocent could be so unnatural.

8. Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver

There are so many things they could have done with this poster. So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that they had taken the actual cab from a front view and used it to create a head for the body beneath it. It was creative and interesting and unexpected, which makes it an instant favorite.

All of these above examples were made by Viktor Hertz, who is a brilliant artist. But there are plenty of other examples all over the web, you just have to take some time to look for them.

Written by Kate

Our guests blog on a wide variety of topics including inspiration and photography!

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