In the future, when the history of the Internet is taught alongside social studies and algebra in middle school, there will be a brief, marginal mention of minimalist posters and how they, for a moment, encapsulated a bit of the late-aughts web. Curious students may do a little research of their own, going on to discover just how much of a hold the design trend once exerted over the popular imagination (or, at least, that of micro-bloggers). They may even come across Michal Krasnopolski’s set of minimalist classic movie posters.
Speculation aside, Krasnopolski’s posters are the latest to crop up in the meme’s short but copious history. The typical minimalist poster combines movie iconography and a pared-down midcentury aesthetic, something we’ve seen again and again and again. But don’t roll your eyes just yet. Krasnopolski’s designs are not just more of the same.
After spending months developing a series of movie posters that was going nowhere, Krasnopolski decided to start afresh. “I was about to abandon the project,” he tells Co. Design. “Then I just drew these two lines, one red, the other green, and had a ready Return of the Jedi poster.” From this scheme, he constructed a two-by-two gridded template that he used to make a batch of 22 new poster designs. The result: The most minimal minimalist posters you’ve ever seen.
The designs rigorously adhere to the same mold: a circle overlaid by two diagonals, all inscribed in a square. The structure seems stringent, but, as Krasnopolski found out, it could actually yield “plenty of possibilities.” His poster for the original Star Wars, for example, consists of a grey circle diametrically bisected by a single line and set on a black background. (Hint: it’s the Death Star.) A diagonal red line, partially dissolved at the bottom end, signifies the Man of Steel’s fiery takeoff into the sky in Superman. A dial of red tick marks, each more faded than the last, references the submarine radar screen from The Hunt for Red October.
Don’t expect every theme to be, well, abundantly clear. Krasnopolski cautions: The posters “require some knowledge of movie genres and are a riddle game for movie enthusiasts.” Still, film buffs might have a hard time deciphering the imagery behind Full Metal Jacket, which, Krasnopolski admits, is “a stretch.”
Krasnopolski is undecided about continuing the series. “I could do more, but some of the ideas are beginning to mirror each other,” he reasons. One of Krasnopolski’s friends, attempting to prove the inflexible nature of the template, bet Krasnopolski that the system would be incapable of producing a legible poster for 101 Dalmatians. Krasnopolski won the bet.