Design Toast
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Design Toast

Poster Recipes: Flaming passion of Northern Design by Kari Piippo

This post is part of our Poster Recipe Series, dedicated to getting an inside look into the techniques and design practices used by some of the world’s most remarkable artists in creating their posters.

Celebrated graphic artist Kari Piippo is one of the most prominent members of the Finnish school of design. His works are vivid and intense, yet, at the same time entrancingly poetic. This type of potent sincerity is found all throughout his art and Kari’s posters are no exception. Surgically precise message, expressive imagery and unmistakable metaphors make Piippo’s poster designs truly original, memorable and unique.

~ Kari Piippo


visual thinking
simple tools

Method (told by Kari Piippo)

PATH: I start the design by writing words and phrases that are relevant to the topic. My mind is open — at this point, I’m not trying to visualize how the poster should look.

Coming up with an idea is the first and the most important thing. Composition, colors and typography — they all come second. I want to combine originality with art and message. Leaving not too much, not too little.

COLORS: My first theatre posters were the size A3. I was able to use only 1 or 2 colors. That way the printing did not cost as much. This period taught me a lot. This was when I came up with my minimalistic approach. Here is my philosophy on color: First, I try to express my ideas in black. Later on I emphasize my message with colors and enhance its symbolic and esthetic impact.

CHALLENGE: In a sea of images only a few will be noticed and only the best remembered.

The role of social /cultural poster: A poster is a good way to warn and educate audiences. However, poster is simply a type of a response to an issue, a simplified message made into an effective visual form. It is not a solution to the problem. The best posters challenge people to act. They claim, question and create cultural values. They are sharp observations on society’s changes and reflections of its future hopes.

SUMMARY: There is no single truth in graphic design. Design world is like a garden where all kinds of plants have room to grow up.

Interviewed, translated, and curated by Olga Severina.

Olga is an exhibition curator and graphic designer residing in Los Angeles, California. Having a passion for the graphic arts, Olga Severina founded PosterTerritory initiative that became a launching platform for contemporary art shows and poster exhibitions in the US and abroad. Under its umbrella, she curates graphic art campaigns that tackle a variety of social issues and feature artworks by some of the biggest names in the international design community.



Design Toast observes timely and intricate issues, examines design history, and uplifts the new generation of designers–with a focus on the local community of Los Angeles.

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