70 godawful examples of ‘mindblowing’ minimalist poster design

Actually only about 30 and then 3 of my own TRUE MASTERPIECES. Lots of angry rambling. Enjoy!

I like the internet, and I especially like StumbleUpon, which feeds me no shortage of combined brain-rotting and genuinely interesting pages, articles, galleries and videos. Oh, it’s all just called CONTENT nowadays isn’t it. That’s fine by me.

VIsual content is the easiest to digest, so a lot of what I stumble upon (I get it now!) is likely to be graphic: maybe some memes or comics, but also the kind of semi-journalistic ‘look at these amazing things’ type of photo ‘sets’. 10 most amazing houses built out of citrus fruit, 14 incredibly stupid tattoos, 29 t shirts of the “pop culture A reference meets pop culture B reference” formula. All in all, it’s a bit like flicking through an endless magazine: a fair enough way of killing time, and who am I to say if this is wrong? Here am I, adding to the landfill of blogs myself.

Anyway, one particular trend popped out at me: ‘Minimalist Design’ – particularly redesigns of things that already exist – film posters, characters…

Here are a few links to wet your whistle, before I go on.

(A variety, some very nice ones in here too – typically the redesigns are the ones that grate with me the most. The one for the Matrix… groan)

(The Indiana Jones one manages to make this rip roaring adventure classic seem dull as a bag of doorknobs)

There also appears to be plenty to suggest that minimalism is also the most important design ‘genre’ to get right: “Oh, it’s so pure and reductive, just boil it down to it’s most basic elements, all the rest is just needless crap.” Okay, I hate overused lens flare as much as the next man, but this is just as boring and just as predictable.

So here we go, 70 powerful examples of minimal movie poster design, click the link and you can play along at home:

Bear in mind the introduction text, with my emhpasis in bold. Consider pitching these designs to a hard headed movie executive (not that they are right all the time, of course):

“Today we have collected beautiful minimal movie poster designs for your inspiration. Because some of us have seen the following movies, we are awed by the poster designs. The illustrations provide a visual relation we had experienced while watching the movie. For other that have not seen the film, might have a different point of view or confusion by the minimalism. That’s not always a bad thing however, there are a few movies on this list that I have not seen. This does really confuse me, but encourages me to watch the movie and then see if the poster has any relation to it what so ever.

1. Reservoir Dogs. Have you seen the poster for Reservoir Dogs? It’s a classic, awesome, quite minimal and way more appealing than this.

2. Pulp Fiction. Brilliant, a film about hairstyles. You used a ‘gritty’ texture as well, how insightful.


4. Edward Scissorhands. Extra helping of fail for you, because the title itself is so immediately visual.

5. Forrest Gump. The bench is pretty central to the story of course.

6. Paranormal activity. Haven’t seen the film, maybe this works a little as a horror film- horror can swing the other way and give away too much so perhaps a little restraint is called for. On the other hand, the desensitized little buggers who go to see horror movies probably won’t be sold on it.

7. Robin Hood: A soaring medieval swords and guts epic. In beige. The bow and arrow also seems pretty lazy, just a bit wonky. If you’ve only got one ‘icon’ make sure it’s a good one.

8. The Deer Hunter. Referencing a key scene in the film, how clever. I don’t know what the weird pool of golden light is doing either.

9. Tron. I may be wrong, but I’m fairly sure the lightcycles weren’t pushbikes.

10. Dumb and Dumber. An interesting juxtaposition, a film about idiots designed to look be as civilized as a period romance novel. Nice linework on the hats, you get let off this time.

11. American Psycho. A mac and an axe. Awful lotta grey in here too. Now I am asleep.

12. Harry Potter. Okay, maybe… quite punchy, obviously goes in the direction of ‘This is the darkest one yet, even though we said that the last 8 times’. Don’t know about the orange though… I thought Ron was the ginger one.

13. Avatar. This is a bag of doorknobs. Fail on all accounts. Is that supposed to be the big life tree thing? You’d think blue would be the groaningly obvious colour to choose, not purple.

14. Bottle Rocket. Don’t know the film. A banana is involved at some point, I imagine.

15. Napoleon. I give this a pass, but the crown and thrown are a bit lazy if you ask me. I guess it was too hard to have those as minimal shapes and still have it possible to figure out what they are. Funny that!

16. The Colo(u)r of Money. You were so pleased when you figured out you had the right number of letters, weren’t you? Green like a pool table, green like money… the title is already doing a lot of the work for you on this one.

17. The Thing. Quite nice actually, the bleak white snow and the red gore. Not bad, but maybe not gruesome enough for a film well known for it’s level of grue.

18. Return of the Jedi. Terrible.

19. Kill Bill vol 1. Slightly better, at least there is more contrast.

20. District 9. Just dull. I was thinking about watching the film again, and this has made me reconsider.

Okay, there’s loads of these bloody things to get through, let’s speed up a bit. I’m going to skip through…

Scarface – Again, isn’t the existing poster a minimalist classic anyway? And you chose to go with a cocaine/blood hourglass?

Jurassic Park – The most iconic part of the film about bloody huge Dinosaurs is…?

The Shining – Quite like this one actually. I think horror has a better chance of working like this in general.

The Big Lebowski – You couldn’t download any more free texture files if you tried. The existing Jeff Bridges surrounded by psychedelic magic eye pictures didn’t quite get the theme of the film for you, did it?

Ratatouille – Watched this several times and it still took me a while to figure out what the reference here was. This is a film that comes out against elitism in general, so you chose a pretentious, cold design to represent it.

Wall-E – I get it now! The underlying message was RECYCLING. Of course.

Star Wars (Ep 4) – Actually a film about a space clock. You see, he’s Red FIVE… Punch yourself in the head now.

Hitchhikers guide – Might get away with it due to the (widespread yet cultish) nature of the book … maybe but not ideal.

Monsters inc – If you’re going to do just one element, get it right! This eyeball is not as round as it should be in my opinion. It is too oval-ly!

Scream – Because the world famous mask didn’t work as an icon did it.

12 Angry Men – They look like 12 angry Duplo men.

Friday the 13th – Looks like an angry Kirby (So Meta Knight then)

Aaaaand we’re done. Now for the problems I have with most of these:

– This is my main one: It  assumes you know the product already, thus defeating the point of advertising, at least for new products. If you saw any of these posters in real life, you’d go “Wow, what a bold, unconventional design! However I am going to see this other film that clearly appears to have dinosaurs and space boobs in it, because the poster has successfully communicated that message to me.”

– It’s an obvious criticism, but some of them just appear amazingly lazy! I’m not saying you can’t sweat and suffer over a single line, and certainly there are enough designs out there now that are TOO ‘busy’ or complicated… it’s hard to find the words to describe this: if you’re only going to use a few elements, make sure they are interesting.

– They all just blur together into a boring, yet functional mess. Some things ARE designed to look the same: DVD box sets, various series of books, economy brand groceries – it makes sense occasionally in these contexts, but don’t you want to conjour up some romance or adventure?

– It’s just symbolic of some of the low points in culture nowadays, swimming in nostalgia, digging up corpses, retreading the same old formulas. Have we got anything of our own to say yet? Okay, I am being deliberately provocative and doomsday-ish here, but I think you get my point. Mashups, Covers, Reboots all have their place, but they still have a responsibility to add ‘something new’.

– Particularly galling is the way some people are trying (and succeeding) in cashing in on all this redesign guff. I’m not saying the original poster (or whatever) is the best, or that you don’t have the right to decorate your house as you see fit, but you HAVE to admit that you are standing on the backs of other peoples’ work. If someone hadn’t designed a ‘normal, boring but effective’ poster to sell the movie and make it a hit, you wouldn’t be able to put up your snazzy 20 minute redesign in a ‘edgy, contemporary but bloody useless for selling a film’ way.

– While it’s fair enough that we can all use the internet for our half-finished, quarter-baked projects, the downside is that because of the ‘bottomless pit effect’ the tendency seems to be to grab as much as possible together with little quality control. I’d still like to think that talent shines through everything, but it seems that the loudest, most obnoxious, most fanservicing and most prolific people ‘win’ quite a lot of the time.

For more on the issue of abstract vs realistic, I link to some excellent work by Scott McCloud.

The short version

The longer version

You want to go minimal? Just use words.

My three mindblowing attempts at minimal design

Are you ready to be amazed? Here we go, a vibrant musical wonderpiece of delight:

Now an epic baroque space saga filled with breathtaking visual imagery:

And finally, a groundbreaking anime, both gruesomely violent and awe-inspiringly beautiful:

Thank you, and good night. Limited edition screenprints start at £100, maybe I’ll do some t-shirts as well.

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