Trendy Tradition: Posters of The Liturgical Seasons

The minimalist poster trend is over. It was over in 2011, it was over a few days ago and it will be over in the future. Still, I went ahead and designed some for my friends.

These are not a riff on movies nor books nor recordings. I designed these so we could gather in the print shop and have some beers and listen to music and do some screen printing.

There are eight posters marking eight seasons. Some churches observe less, some observe more.

We also make these together enjoying and examining one of my favorite parts of going to church: the observance of the liturgical seasons of the church year.

I did not want to use the usual Christian symbols for these. I wanted to use a few simple shapes, some uncommon words and a few colors of the seasons.

“My expectations of design aesthetics traditionally applied to religious concepts is conflicting with my love of simple contemporary iconified messages.”

Somewhere, sometime, someone said that everything in nature tries to be a circle. The circle drives these designs; small circles and large circles; radii. A rectangle is also a fine shape, so we use a small, thin rectangle to help.

I’m not real big on telling people what things mean. You can draw your own conclusions. But what follows are a few notions that might be helpful.

The church year begins with Advent. Some churches observe Advent with the color purple; some with blue. Often an advent wreath and candles will mark the four weeks of preparation with a different color candle on the fourth Sunday.

This design makes use of four overlapping circles evocative of a flower unfolding. It may also bring to mind the vesica piscis.

Here we use four ink colors — two blues, purple and white — on steel blue paper.

Advent leads into the 12 days of Christmas; a much shorter season than many realize. The first day of Christmas is the celebration of The Feast of The Nativity.

This season is often indicated by the color white. Appealing to tradition, we went with a modified red and green palette here.

The small bit of red could be indicative of God coming into the world as a human. Perhaps also a slight foreshadowing of all the blood that figures later in the story.

Epiphany! Wow!

This season is often signified with white, so we went with a white on white design.

The small circle and thin rectangle combine to form the exclamation. We borrowed the orange from the Easter poster.

Being a little different than the others (black type instead of white) could signify the profound difference before and after the event.

Lent was the first design of the series. This is where the circle idea came up, first evoking the notion of a big black hole; a season of penitence and darkness.

This is the most simple, the most minimal of the series. During Lent we practice what life might be like without the things we love.

Most churches associate Lent with the color purple. In another context this color could be symbolic of royalty.

“Nicely organized as variations on a singular graphic element, already rich with inclusion, continuity and holism.”

After Lent, we move into Holy Week. While not a season per se, this is a very intense and significant few days in the liturgical year.

It’s a time of great darkness as we commemorate the arrest, torture and execution of an innocent man.

The paper is black and the only color evokes the soil. The shape might bring to mind a “Do Not Enter” sign, or it cold be symbolic of a stone that is rolled over the entrance of a tomb.

Probably the most literal of the designs, Easter depicts the rising sun of the morning after.

Though you can’t see them all, there is a suggestion of twelve rectangle shapes emanating from the sun circle.

(The number twelve, significant throughout scripture, figures into a couple of the other designs.)

The colors are bright and warm, far removed from the typically cool purples and pinks of Easter.

The birthday of The Church.

The large circle surrounded by twelve smaller circles; tongues of fire gathered around a seemingly empty space.

This is the season when the sanctuary comes alive with red and the twelve apostles are reported as drunk with the spirit.

(Technically there may have been only eleven, I can’t remember.)

The year concludes with the long season of Ordinary Time. The altar and priests are wearing green for months and months and months.

Being nothing particularly special — ordinary — this poster makes use of the colors of the earth and life.

The concentric circles make a big, obvious “O” that looks forward to the cool blue of Advent.

And the year is complete.

All images © 2015 Stephen Mockensturm. All rights reserved.