Are you part of the 1%?

April 1st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

I discovered this New York Times Op-Art graphic through one of Erik Spiekermann’s tweets. It’s been going around the Twitter and Blog circles the past week or so. The topic is an interesting one – the one percenters did become a popular group last year. This graphic explains some of the other one percenters. The piece was written by Peter Funt (host of Candid Camera) and illustrated by Martin Venezky.

NY Times Op-Art

I’ve always been a fan of illustrations made of type. This particular design is very eccentric and a bit chaotic at first glance, although I was able to follow the piece from start to finish. The illustration has just a few subtle clues to guide you through the piece, but it’s a basic top, down, left, right formula—a basic eye flow in the western world. There are quite a few typefaces being used here—serif, sans-serif, script, condensed, wide, bold, italic, you name it, all the different characters are here. The artist uses a nice effect of emphases for some of the words and figures, calling attention to them. A sense of scale and weight is found throughout. What I found really cool about the piece is that when I read it aloud to my husband, I knew when to emphasize certain terms or phrases. I felt like I was giving a speech. It definitely has a rhythm to it. I think the use of black text on a white background was for the best. I think it would work well reversed, but don’t think introducing color would have been a good choice as there is so much going on. There is quite a bit of visual texture created already from the type itself and you can see the variations from white to grey to black throughout the piece.

I found a short interview with Martin Venezky on the Felt and Wire website. It is always interesting to get a behind the scenes story of how a piece came to be. Martin admits there are about 50 different typefaces being used and that most of the type was scanned in from old alphabets and set individually leading to some time consuming type-setting work a la old school.

Flipping through Martin’s website at (filled with cats) and through his portfolio on the Behance network is interesting. His style is quite eccentric, bold and chaotic. But it’s also readable. I love that he has a true sense of play. He will frequently print things out, then cut them apart, then put them back together in a new way. It’s all just one big experiment in analog and digital mediums. I love the combination of flat objects and images that seem 3D and leaping off the page or floating in space. His designs just feel alive.

Even though my own design work tends to be very organized, clean, and simple, I have a great appreciation for designers who aren’t afraid to push their designs and ideas to the limit.


New York Times Op-Art 1%

Martin Venezky

Martin Venezky on Behance

Felt and Wire Interview with Martin Venezky