Mark Gowing: Inside The Oblong
Poster design in the space between creativity and purpose
Mark Gowing: Inside the Oblong collects twenty years of posters by the esteemed designer and is a portrait of his uncompromising process for commercial clients and his own personal practice. Over 288 pages the book explores the rhythms, proportion and dynamics of the oblong space that is the poster. The work is divided into five broad categories: Commercial, Exhibition, Film, Music and Practice. The posters display an approach to type, image and pattern that is immediately recognisable as Gowing’s.
As Finn writes, “Gowing deeply understands the rules of design, yet regularly breaks them without restraint. He frequently uses the poster format in the same way one might use an artist’s canvas: as a means to express ideas, to experiment, to challenge, and to discover new things in the process.”
Always with an audience in mind, the works featured include posters for the Sydney Opera House, Venice Art Biennale, Australian War Memorial, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Preservation Music and Hopscotch Films, as well as a selection of personal works, including the Warsaw Poster Biennale Gold Medal-winning Oil Kills Peace. As Walters explains, “Gowing gets to the heart of each subject. The posters map his understanding of nuanced, multi-dimensional content (art shows, talks, performances, architecture, films) on to what graphic design can do within the four corners of a flat surface, the ‘oblong’ of the title”.
The first 60 pages of the book feature photographs documenting process, display and various exhibitions Gowing’s posters have appeared in, printed bronze ink on black paper. The texts are set in a custom typeface designed by Gowing using a rigorous grid, resulting in a sharp and unusual feel.
The book features an essay by John L. Walters, editor of Eye magazine, in which he discusses Gowing’s belief that the process of good poster design can uncover new visual languages.
Published and designed by Formist Editions, 2021
Softcover, 288 pages, full color, 6.75 × 9.5 inches