Martin Woodtli — VideoEx Posters
VideoEx is an experimental music, film and video festival held annually in Switzerland. Designer Martin Woodtli (born 1971) has been designing posters for this festival since 2003, and as a master of computer aided design techniques he has created stunning, complex and visually unique posters for the Zurich festival.
Due to a highly obsessive personality, designer Woodtli puts a huge amount of detail into his posters. He spends so long on them and builds up each layer of his pieces with an incredible amount of detail, most of which you can barely see behind other objects. They are so detailed and stunning that they look like nothing that has ever been seen before. His impressive use of digital techniques mixed with using photocopiers and physical layers of glossy and see-through sheets creates this unique and inspiring display of shape and colour.
At the start of his career, Woodtli was an intern at the studio of Stefan Sagmeister, who said “his proficiency in various programs is such that he sketches with the keyboard as quickly and uninhibitedly as with pencil and paper.” This really helps to highlight the talent of Woodtli, who was also described as being able to think with a keyboard. His technological skills seem to shine through into his work as they are all very technology based. They look like computer screens gone wrong, as if some sort of system failure has occurred. This is impressive to recreate from scratch, yet Woodtli does it every time.
This is another VideoEx poster from 2003, again with the strong appearance of broken computers and technology. The concept of the festival that the posters are for are directly reflected in his work. The festival celebrates new technologies and ways to communicate, which can be seen in Woodtli’s aesthetic style. He based his posters on a number of things, mainly mixes of computer coding, video test patterns and faxes, limiting his colour palette to at least four colours in order to accurately represent a monitor. The technological influences can be seen where he has placed images of cassette tapes, CD players, tape spools, etc that blend into the image due to their opacity.
It’s very interesting the way Woodtli uses type in his posters. Instead of just placing a typeface over the front of the poster like you usually would, he designs the title as part of the background objects by shifting elements of the pattern to the side to give the impression of a letter being placed. This is quite a unique way of using type as it’s not often seen, but it links directly into his theme as it creates a more robotic and stationary aesthetic. It is more difficult to read but that adds to the intricacy of the design, which requires you to sit and stare at it in order to make sense of what’s going on. Each time you look at it you find a new sequence of colour or a new image or a new pattern that you previously hadn’t noticed.
The posters are very interesting to look at and are unlike any bit of design I have ever seen before. In the 2010 poster (pictured above) the design is created almost entirely out of hexagonal and circular shapes, placed in the outline of the VideoEx text. Again he has used the objects to create the title instead of placing down a typeface and it is as effective as ever.
Even Woodtli’s posters outside of the VideoEx series are unique and visually stunning. This was designed for the Langnauer Jazznights as part of the Open Space Workshop that Woodtli is a lecturer for. Although this time he uses type more clearly, it is still a very unique piece of design. It is messy (with objects placed everywhere in the background of the page) yet it somehow still looks ordered and neat due to it’s linear layout and limited colours. His use of the Helvetica typeface creates a familiar response in the viewer as it’s a very recognisable and widely used font. The clash of colour creates a bright contrast that pushes the poster to stand out despite it’s lack of detail (at least in comparison to his other works).
Martin Woodtli is a very widely recognisable and highly praised designer, both locally in Switzerland and Internationally in the design community. His unique, signature style and impressive digital skills make him a standout designer who’s pieces, comprised of an insane riot of colour and detail, capture perfectly the age of computer technology that we live in.