Final poster concept



The Chaumont Festival team wanted to refresh the student competition, embracing the diverse media that feature in graphic design output: publications, printed objects, video, interactive productions, etc. In light of this, the judges wanted to invite the students to think about an essential component of graphic design: writing.

Writing can put words to what images cannot explicitly say or convey. But this statement overlooks the role that the designer’s choices can play in reading practices. The same text, in different media and with specific page or screen layouts, will be read and appropriated differently. As a result, there will be not one but multiple readings; not one reader, but readers. Formatting text and choosing a medium therefore amount to devising reading scenarios. And this is what the jury hopes to read, discover and test!

Entrants are free to choose their text, although it is best to avoid casually choosing a text – as if for some laying-out exercise. The text can be in English or French. Whether it is written for the occasion or borrowed, its title and source should be mentioned.


For this brief I chose to focus on the generalizations made about different nationalities – in this case the French and the English and reminding the viewer that whilst we may be different as nationalities as human beings we are all the same.

The poster text is based loosely on the painting The Treachery of Images by Rene Magritte. A realistic looking pipe below which Magritte has written ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ – ‘This is not a pipe’. This appears to be a contradiction, however, it is of course not an actual pipe but a painting of one.Magritte’s work was intended to challenge the observers preconditioned perceptions of reality and this, along with the French language used for the text has informed my poster design.

My text reads: ‘Je ne suis pas un frog’ or ‘I am not a frog’ in French and ‘I am not a rosbif’ in English. The insults are written in the language that would be used by the respective nationality.Both ‘rosbif’ (roast beef in English) and ‘frog’ are mildly offensive, almost accepted insults from the French to the English and vice versa. Both have long histories, so long in the case of ‘frog’ that it’s original meaning has been lost. Likewise, do many of us really know why the French like to call us rosbifs?

The texts are intended to challenge the viewer into considering the generalisations. I am English, and therefore to some Frenchmen I am a ‘rosbif’ and so, like Magriites pipe I am and am not a rosbif. This is the same for the French text; of course the Frenchman is not a frog, but some may consider him so.

The typefaces I have chosen for each line of text also enforce the idea of generalisation. The French text is written in Papier sans typeface, a script font chosen to represent an idea of ‘Frenchness’. The colour of this text is the blue of the French national flag.The English text is written using Gill Sans font and I have used this as it is known to represent ‘Britishness’ because of it’s use by well known institutions like the BBC and Penguin books. Its colour is the red from the St. Georges Cross.

Between the texts is a Venn diagram made up of two semi-transparent circles, or ‘elements’ (English and French) that intersect to create a white segment. The diagram and its intersection represents our difference (nationality) and our similarity – we are all human.

The whole piece is on a pale blue background, chosen to represent the English Channel that separates us as nations.

The two pieces of text are arranged so that the poster can be rotated 180 degrees to put either the French or English text at the top. The circles of the Venn diagram of course, will always remain in the correct position.

Ideally, I would have liked the French text and Venn circle to be printed one side of the poster and the English the other but this proved to be inaccurate in terms of alignment.