The latest edition of SVA subway posters designed by MFA Illustration as Visual Essay faculty member Mirko Ilić are currently brightening up 400 New York City platforms underground. Impossible to miss, the fluorescent and eye-twisting series of multicolor posters boldly (and accurately) declare the College as a place “Where Art Happens.”
“Subway stations are full of some of the best advertising posters, and one is competing with them for passengers’ attention,” Ilić told SVA Close Up. “I wanted to create something that was going to succeed in that environment, and because of that it needed to be visually strong—a kind of punch in the eye.”
In addition to being visually arresting, Ilic’s latest posters also create optical illusions. This isn’t first time he’s playfully challenged viewer’s visual perceptions. In 2009, he won a gold Graphis Award for his SVA subway poster “To Help See Possibilities.” “[With that poster], from afar you see slightly fuzzy letters, but when you come close you see small objects from which the letters are created,” said Ilic. “With the new series of posters, from very far you see the SVA letters, but when you come closer you mostly see the ‘moving’ lines and not much of the letters.”
One thing Ilić wants everyone to see clearly is how influential SVA’s subway posters have been over the past 60-plus years. In 2013 he helped launch “Underground Images,” a touring exhibition of SVA’s subway posters from 1947 to present, which is still going strong. “The show is in quite a big demand, and it seems like people all around the world are really enjoying them, especially judging by numbers of visitors in different venues,” said Ilic. “Its’ giving them a little peek into the history of the last 60 years of graphic design in New York, since most of them don’t have the chance to travel here or ride the MTA.”
“Underground Images” is curated by SVA Executive Vice President Anthony P. Rhodes, who has served as creative director of the posters since 2007. Past stops for the exhibition have included Beijing, Istanbul and Moscow, to name a few. Upcoming stops this year include Ecuador, Korea, New Orleans, Portugal and Bolivia.