Poster Designs by Michael Osborne

San Francisco–based Michael Osborne Design has been creating some of the most memorable design around since 1981. Their award-winning work ranges from packaging to corporate identity and retail design for clients like Target, Williams-Sonoma and the U.S. Postal Service. So it’s no surprise that their poster design for Crane & Co. was recognized in the HOW Poster Design Awards in 2009.

2009 winning poster; poster design awards; poster designs; Michael Osborne Design

Creative Team: Michael Osborne, Cody Dingle; Printer: One Heart Press (letterpress), Moquin Press (offset litho); Paper: Crane LETTRA; Client: Crane & Co.

Now, five years after Michael Osborne Design’s big win, we talk with president & creative director Michael Osborne to find out what the firm’s been up to since.

Osborne was the recipient of the prestigious AIGA Fellow Award in the summer of 2006, and his work is included in the permanent collections of the San Francisco MOMA, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.

Need we say it? Prepare yourself for seriously arresting poster design, as well as some thoughts and tips from Osborne.

How has your design business grown since 2009?
Long answer made as short as I can: Yes, and no—in that order. I started Michael Osborne Design in 1981, and for the first 15 years or so we experienced organic growth from just me up to six or seven people.

Since then it has fluctuated up and down but never past 15 people—which is a few too many for me. Work flow and the economy pretty much control growth rates … as well as a little thing called luck. In 2011 we got an enormous job and had to ramp up to 14 or 15 people to handle it. After 33 years in San Francisco, almost two months ago I downsized to three people and moved to Palo Alto, CA. There are many reasons, which are not necessarily the economy or work flow.

“Posters are meant to communicate quickly,
mostly at distances further than we are used to.
Straightforward simplicity, compelling images,
and easy-to-read messages.”
—Michael Osborne

Michael Osborne Design; poster designs

Has your perspective on poster design changed since you entered the competition?
My only perspective on poster design is that I’ve designed many and want to do tons more! Truth is, they just don’t come around that often—which I think is why or partly why so many designers do self-promotion posters.

Who are some of your favorite designers these days—particularly poster designers?
Poster design—David Goines, Michael Schwab, Primo Angeli, McRay Magleby, Milton Glaser, Luba Lukova, and I can guarantee you they would all love to design more posters. Also, anything WPA period, anything French subway, Polish Circ posters, and almost anything Japanese.

“Some of the best posters I’ve seen
are the work of students or young designers,
and anytime they have the opportunity to
win an award or get their name out there,
they should jump on it.
—Michael Osborne

Michael Osborne Design; poster designs

Is there any one poster project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge, and can you elaborate on why?
Let’s see … could be the poster{s} I did a few years ago for the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival [above]. The event features the work of arts of every sort, from jewelry makers, to painters, wood cravers, photographers, sculptors, on and on, and the challenge was to come up with something that communicated loud and clear, simply, and in a style appropriate for the event and the represented artists. Whew.

Or it could be the series I did based on the Viet Nam Memorial wall in D.C [see below and at bottom of page]. They were personal statements produced using rubbings I did on the wall, then were letterpress printed. I’m a Viet Nam vet, and this was more than any therapist could have done for me at the time.

Michael Osborne Design; poster designs

What’s your favorite poster you’ve designed to date?
Yikes…it’s a hundred-way tie!

Any words of wisdom for designers looking to create award-winning poster designs?
Posters are meant to communicate quickly, mostly at distances further than we are used to. Straightforward simplicity, compelling images, and easy-to-read messages. I hate driving on the freeway and seeing a cool billboard and not being able to read the copy–even if it’s a short headline. Message not received.

Do you have any thoughts on why entering the Poster Design Awards (or any competition, for that matter) is a good idea for designers?
Honestly, some of the best posters I’ve seen are the work of students or young designers, and anytime they have the opportunity to win an award or get their name out there they should jump on it. Usually when we get poster assignments, I either hog it and do it myself, or let everyone in the office work on it and see what happens.

Additional poster design from Michael Osborne Design:

Michael Osborne Design; poster designs Viet-Nam-5 Viet-Nam-6 Viet-Nam-4 Presidential-Loser,-Lewis-Cass New-typeface-by-Matthew-Carter


 

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HOW’s e-commerce store, MyDesignShop.com, is looking for high-quality posters to sell in the store. If you’re planning to enter HOW’s Poster Design Awards and have posters that you would like to sell in MyDesignShop.com, please check the box on the entry form that indicates your interest, and someone from the store will be in touch with you to discuss the details.

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