A smile in the mind – Witty thinking in Graphic Design, is a great read that I definitely recommend, especially as I now understand that wittiness in graphics will have the same underlying technique even if the medium changes. This means that there is a ‘familiar’ and a ‘play’ whereby the audience recognise apart of the design but at the same time are surprised and or amused. If you get the balance of the two right then it will be successful and will gain the attention of the audience which is exactly what a designer wants to do as well as leave a lasting impression. Here I will show you a few examples I have found showcasing wit in design.

To do this I will deconstruct the witty design work by answering these questions:

  • A. Meaning, Message, What type of humour
  • B. Target Audience
  • C. Platform & Media
  • D. Source (Harvard Reference)
Notes of a dirty old man Melzer | Used in Germany in 1979 for Mendell & Oberer

A. An unusual choice of photography for a book sleeve/cover but that’s the point, it instantly grabs the attention of an the audience. The design fits perfectly to represent the book. The comedy aspect hits when it’s in context as it’s an image of an old mans behind.

B. 16+ sexually active males

C. Book sleeve / cover

D. Beryl Mcalhone & David Stuart (1996). A smile in the Mind. London: Phaidon Press Ltd. 42.

Get them off your dog | Used in Indonesia in 2010 for Frontline Flea & Tick Spray

A. A huge guerrilla advert that clearly and cleverly showcases what their product will achieve. Not only is it striking to the audience but it gets the individuals involved which almost makes it an interactive piece as well. It’s comedic in the sense that it is twisted imagery that represents something that it is not.

B. Dog/Pet owners

C. Guerrilla marketing

D. Beryl Mcalhone & David Stuart (1996). A smile in the Mind. London: Phaidon Press Ltd. 42.

Be good in bed | Used in UK in 1992 for Terrence Higgins Trust

A. Uses both verbal and visual wit/comedy by removing the obvious halo which symbolises someone being angelic or good with a rubber condom. By doing this it also helps emphasise their typographic point as well as their result being safe sex.

B. 16+ sexually active males

C. Awareness poster

D. Beryl Mcalhone & David Stuart (1996). A smile in the Mind. London: Phaidon Press Ltd. 42.

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