Irwan Harnoko

All the way from Indonesia, we are happy to introduce a passionate Poster Master whose positive attitude and talent can be spotted a mile away!

Irwan Harnoko is a graduate of Design and Fine Arts from Trisakti University, where he also received his master’s degree. He has been working as a graphic designer since 1993 and a design professor since 1997. His works include branding, corporate identities, brochures and posters.

He has held exhibitions, design events and acted as a jury for numerous prestigious poster exhibitions, both in Indonesia and abroad. Irwan is the founder of the Worldwide Graphic Designers, a community connecting passionate designers from all around the world. He is also the founder of the Type Unite community.

Currently he works as a teacher at three universities in Jakarta – Indonesia (Bina Nusantara University, Tarumanagara University, Pelita Harapan University and Pradita Institute) specializing in Typography courses.

We asked Irwan our “Poster Poster Questions” and these are his answers:

1. What does the poster mean to you and why do you design posters?

As a designer, poster is a total expression. Designers can express themselves more fully. Because in fact designers often get projects that have a lot of interference from clients. Through this media designers can express themselves more fully. That’s why Ilike to make posters, because nothing confines me in expressing what’s on my mind in a work of mine without interference from others.

2. What would you say makes a good poster?

A good poster is a poster that has good energy, visible from the seriousness of the work, visible from the message to be delivered. Posters that have emotion, that is a good poster. Not only communicate, because posters that only communicate without emotion the results will be bland. Precisely because there are emotions, that’s the uniqueness of the poster. Typeface selection, color selection, shape selection, all combine and have emotions and are very touching for the viewers.

3. What do you think is the role of the poster on the world today?

The role of posters today, especially when we talk about poster exhibitions, one of the roles of posters is to convey a message to a particular campaign. So, with a fairly big exhibition, and also supported by social media, after the poster exhibition was held and viral, and the message will continue so that the impact will be good for the social message to be delivered. It doesn’t always have to be a social message, but there is also a movement to make something new. Experimental poster for example, the aim is to look for other possibilities that are not stuck with boring visual solutions, so the design doesn’t die and continues to grow with all the possibilities that occur so certain messages don’t always have to be answered with boring visuals.

4. What is your typical design process for making a poster?

This is one of my characteristics in making poster. I like to use a pencil after that with a marker. I usually do it on a piece of drawing paper. I draw first with a pencil and then blacken it with a marker. [shows example] I made it black with a marker, after that I use the camera to reproduce it. After that I move it to the computer so that it can continue in Photoshop to do the coloring. This is one of the things I do with markers. [shows example] This too, I use a marker, first using a pencil and then a marker. After that I move to Photoshop then I inverse. Black turns white and white turns black. That’s one of my ways to make posters. [shows examples] I did this the same way too. [shows example] One more time, first I do with a pencil, after that with a marker, reproduced with the camera, and move to Photoshop for coloring and retouching.

5. If you could chose a poster in history as your favorite, which one would it be and why?

The poster that I like in poster history is actually a lot to be sure, the posters that are often repeated were called by my late design teacher Yongky Safanayong, he used to when I was in college often say: “Irwan look! The Shigeo Fukuda posters”, “Irwan look! The April Greiman posters. Look! The Wolfgang Weingart posters”. It really affected me and wanted to know why the posters were said to be good. What makes me try to be amazed at the historic poster? Because I tried to understand what was admired by my lecturer, the late Yongky Safanayong, because I really respect him, I gradually tried to study the great works, finally I liked it. One of them is the works of Wolfgang Weingart. I am very impressed with Wolfgang Weingart because his works are extraordinary. Not according to the era, he can surpass the era, that is what I admire about Wolfgang Weingart.

6. What advice would you give to new designers who might want to become poster designers?

My message in making posters, use your energy. The energy is very important, because the energy will be transferred to your poster. That is my message. Use all the energy, from your mind, from your craftmanship, from your mind and energy to make posters, because that energy will move to the poster. I believe that the energy will move to the poster and the poster becomes energized and that energy will be transferred to the audience. So the energy doesn’t disappear, the energy will be transferred to the poster and the poster will spread its energy to the viewers. Make the poster truly, with your mind, with your energy, with your totality, then the poster will have tremendous energy.