Pop Pictogram Posters

Pop music lyrics don’t always make sense on paper. Graphic designer Viktor Hertz thinks they translate better in graphic form. Can you find the Beatles’ magical mystery tour bus?

Pop Pictogram Posters

His poster series makes extensive use of pictograms to illustrate songs and lyrics of some of pop music’s most memorable acts.

Pop Pictogram Posters

Hertz crafted each and every pictogram--234 in all--for the project.

Pop Pictogram Posters

Normally, Hertz says, he makes minimal use of pictograms, but in this series, he decided to jam as many as he could in the poster format.

Pop Pictogram Posters

The abundance of symbols makes for a fun guessing game to identify each song. Spot Elvis’s blue suede shoes?

Pop Pictogram Posters

You’d have to be familiar with the Springsteen canon for any of these to make sense, though "Born in the U.S.A." should be pretty obvious.

Pop Pictogram Posters

Bob Dylan’s famously nonsensical lyrics make for the most interesting poster. You’ll have fun trying to find references to Mr. Tambourine Man and Ballad of a Thin Man’s Mr. Jones.

Pop Music's Biggest Moments, Illustrated In Pictograms

Can you identify all the songs in these posters?

John Lennon once said that Bob Dylan could "get away with murder" with his notoriously obtuse—and critically adored—lyrics. He was right. Who among us can tell us what "Ballad of a Thin Man" is really about?

But as it turns out, their evocative imagery starts to make a little more sense in graphic form. That’s what designer Viktor Hertz has done with his Pictogram Pop Posters, a series of minimalist prints that visualize songs and lyrics from some of pop’s most storied acts.

Hertz has made great use of pictograms before, but he outdid himself in this pop immersion: "I made as many as I could possibly come up with for each artist, and jammed them into one single poster." The abundance of symbols—234 in total, spread across eight posters—make it a game of deciphering them all. You’ll want to brush up on your Springsteen Americana oeuvre and Bowie cosmology first.

The series began with the Rolling Stones poster, which a friend had asked Hertz to design as a birthday present for his father. While figuring out his approach, Hertz came up with the idea of making "song pictograms," as he calls them. "I Can’t Get No Satisfaction" became a smiley face obscured by a "no" sign. "She’s So Cold" swaps the head of a female pictogram with a snowflake. The Stones poster led to Hertz’s takes on The Beatles, Elvis, Bob Dylan, and Iggy Pop.

"I spent many, many hours just thinking about the titles and looking at lots of pictograms," he tells Co.Design, "trying to distill all the visual impressions into clever combinations that could represent the songs."

I’m partial to the Beatles poster, which suspends a walrus, a weeping guitar, a field of strawberries, and most cleverly, Norwegian wood (on a long and winding strip of road). The gentleman with the tambourine, Mr. to you, is easiest to pick out of the Dylan spread, while Elvis’s blue suede shoes won’t be too hard to spot.

Hertz plans to expand the series, but till then, you’ll have plenty of fun deciphering this first batch of posters. Buy them here for $35.

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