I’m a big fan of typography and how skilfully it can be used in film posters as a supporting element or even the main visual feature. As recent research such as that conducted by design agency Monotype in collaboration with applied neuroscience company Neurons shows – “different font styles can evoke varied emotional responses”.  Their report also shed light on the different influences that size, colour and spacing can have on how type is seen and more importantly, felt.

For me, this emphasises just how much consideration poster designers should give to font style and how great typography really can make or break a poster. 

All good typography interacts with the rest of the poster – making sure all elements work as a coherent design (if that’s what you’re going for!). However, after my recent analysis of this aspect of design, I wanted to share with you how posters take this interaction to a whole new level in a variety of distinctive ways.

Falling into Place

A very attention-grabbing technique, cleverly placed typography done well helps  the title of the film to linger in the viewer’s mind. In the poster for ‘Swallowed’, the typography is almost forcing its way down the character’s throat, making the image seem much more visceral. ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ is a less obvious example but the way almost all the available space is taken up by text creates a claustrophobic feeling that there is nowhere to hide in this twisty moral thriller.

Poster design by Champ & Pepper Inc.
Poster design by The Posterhouse

Taking Part

Some posters take their text and embed it in the picture elements of a poster. This can feel very immersive and can evoke a feeling of intrigue – for instance in the poster for ‘Fresh’ where the typography elements are simply part of one mysterious and subtly gory image. But this approach can also work when focusing more on film titles such as in ‘How to Blow Up a Pipeline’ which makes the bold choice of giving you little else to look at.

Poster design by Concept Arts
Poster design by GrandSon

Looking at the Big Picture

These are posters that interact with the image in a more narrative way than you might see conventionally. In ’10 Cloverfield Lane’, the L of ‘Lane’ becomes an underground tunnel and teases a key plot point. The typography for documentary ‘Personality Crisis: One Night Only’ is scrawled all over the train carriage walls and floors and – even if you’ve never heard of David Johansen or the New York Dolls – this break with convention, shows that you’re in for an anarchic ride. 

Poster design by BLT Communications, LLC

What Fourth Wall?

This style I found to be one of the rarer ones. In these posters, the character/s in the poster has, or at least seems to be aware of the film’s title and interacts with it. This is often used for a very self-aware character or film. However, it can be used to really varied effect – from giving an intimate glimpse into the life of Carey Mulligan’s protagonist in ‘Promising Young Woman’ or highlighting the fragmented nature of the narrative in ‘I’m Not There’.

Poster design by Art Machine
Poster design by Franki & Jonny

So that’s it. And sure, these aren’t techniques that are going to suit every film poster but looking at typography in this way has definitely helped me to see behind the words and look at how I can use font style, placement and colour in a deeper way. And in the future, hopefully that’s going to help me to make even more impactful and memorable work.

What do you think of these styles? Have any of them made you rethink your approach to typography? What are the best examples that I’ve missed? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

For poster and graphic design services for your latest TV or film project, drop me a line at adam@strelka.co.uk.