Alexey Brodovitch was Russian, born in1898 and died in 1971 He was
- An artist
- A photographer
- A graphic designer
- A teacher
- And an art director.
This is a brief history about Alexey Brodovitch creative career, 1924 Brodovitch won a poster competition for Bal Banal, with his innovative design this was the start of his career as a graphic designer. He became noticed for this poster by other designers and artists, and it was not long after that he became the art director for ‘Athelia’ studio in Paris. In 1930 Brodovitch was offered to create an advertising department for Philadelphia College of Art which he accepted and moved to the United States. When Brodovitch became a teacher he bought a new way of teaching, he given students real design assignments to do and challenged them. His students then became very successful. Then in 1938 Brodovitch was an art director in Harper’s Bazaar and stayed there for more than ten years. Since I’m inspired by his editorial work e.g. his designs, layouts and spreads, this will be discussed a lot in my essay.
Alexey Brodovitch style in Harper’s Bazaar magazine spreads consists on three elements, which are commonly shown throughout the years, which are text, photography and white space. White space because it creates breathing space and readers can focus on the information more.He was the first to integrate image and text as well as using colour to create striking contrast. Carmel Snow described his work as ’a fresh, new conception of layout technique that struck me like a revelation: pages that bled beautifully cropped photographs. Typography and design that was bold and arresting.’
Brodovitch was also inspired by Surrealism. Which was mostly centred in Paris, Surrealism style uses visual imagery from the subconscious mind to create art without the intention of logical comprehensibility.There are many layouts that shows this style in his work, for example this layout (below) where the pages are made to look like the women are coming out of the page also when he experiments with light and shadows to create an illusion of the model appearing skinnier than she actually is.
When designing for the magazine his composition for the spreads where elegant, innovative and fresh. I found this quote from Frances MacFadden who was the editor of Harper’s Bazaar at the time describing the amount of detail Alexey Brodovitch invested in the magazine. “It was a pleasure to watch him work. He was so swift and sure. In emergencies, like the time the Clipper bearing the report of the Paris Collections was held up in Bermuda, his speed was dazzling. A quick splash or two on the cutting board, a minute's juggling of the Photostats, a slather of art gum, and the sixteen pages were complete. His layouts, of course, were the despair of copywriters whose cherished tone poems on girdles or minks had to be sacrificed to his sacred white space. Just before we went to press, all the layouts were laid out in sequence on Carmel Snow's floor, and there, under his eye, re-arranged until the rhythm of the magazine suited him.”
What I liked about his designs are for example when he would create versions of small movie stills or spreads in which women were supposed to see themselves rather than the model. For example, he would have used a model's silhouette rather than her whole form, or keeps her face in shadow, so that any reader could place themselves in those fashions. Brodovitch worked hard to avoid repeating the same visual ideas. And his passion was to be unique and different from everybody else.
When designing editorial work I like to keep my layout simple and easy for my audience to follow. I do this by using white space a lot or keeping my work structured with a strong grid. On the other hand as well as getting inspired by Brodovitch work, I also get inspiration from Minimalism. A good example of this is in my composition project where I had to design a double-page spread about my article France banning the burqa. I started off by drawing sketches of the layout of how I wanted my spreadsheet to look. So it would be easier to design it in Adobe InDesign, this technique is what Brodovitch done too when designing his spreads. This helped because it allowed me to think of where the grids and how I wanted the layout to be positioned. For the image, I looked into photography. I used a model wearing the traditional Islamic clothing, making sure that the woman’s face wasn’t showing. Because I wanted the audience to picture themselves in the image and try to feel how they would react to the situation that they see in the photograph. It was difficult at the start to create an emotion without showing facial expressions however I found a way of expressing this at the end.
Written by Kawsar Ahmed
Images from Google
Book: Alexey Brodovitch by Gabriel Bauret