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Rocco Piscatello: Poster Works for FIT

Ariel Smullen
Piscatello Design Centre

We all love a good poster. But, what makes the design for a poster effective? 

Rocco Piscatello is the principle of New York based Piscatello Design Centre. His poster work for a lecture series at the Fashion Institute of Technology are a type lover’s dream. Inspired by the Swiss posters from the 1950-60s, Piscatello explores typography, geometry and scale in a way that is pure and elegant.

Posters for Milton Glaser + Ivan Chermayeff
Fall 2014 + Spring 2007
Posters for Paula Scher + Julia Hoffmann
Fall 2009 + Fall 2012

“His posters are incredibly concise, to the point, reaching the essence of a strong message without concession.” —Massimo Vignelli

Piscatello designed his first poster for the Visiting Artist Program for FIT in 2003. Since then, he has created 24 posters, each design approached in the same manor.

“Piscatello’s poster design is often based on the initial letter of the lecturer’s last name. He explored the letter’s form, counter form and structure, as well as the composition of strokes which form it. He transforms the letter into an iconic image expressing some of the characteristic qualities of the lecturer’s work and making it the central element of the poster.” —Willi Kunz.  

“Rocco is a typographer and what he does is quite extraordinary. —Ivan Chermayeff. 

Poster for Takaaki Matsumoto
Spring 2009
Poster for Jessica Hische
Spring 2012

To reflect on the 24 posters he created over his time working with FIT, Rocco published Poster works for FIT: Publication. The book contains a forward written by Massimo Vignelli and essays by R. Roger Remington and Willi Kunz.

Dust Cover of the book
The dust cover was book cloth and mounted on Strathmore Wove Midnight Black and foil stamped
Text pages
The text pages were printed on Mohawk Superfine Eggshell Ultrawhite 100 text
Text pages
The text pages were printed on Mohawk Superfine Eggshell Ultrawhite 100 text

The book contains a book cloth dust jacket mounted on Strathmore Wove Midnight Black and foil stamped. The cover was foil stamped on Strathmore Wove Midnight Black. The text pages were printed on Mohawk Superfine Eggshell Ultrawhite.

Within the book, Piscatello also identifies ten enduring qualities of a powerful design as he reflects on his poster designs:

Reflection by Rocco Piscatello

In today’s digital world, the opportunity to design a print poster for the purpose of promoting an event is rare. When the Fashion Institute of Technology approached me to design a poster for their newly formed Visiting Artist Program, I immediately said yes. Their brief was very succinct: create a poster announcing a designer’s lecture, while adhering to strict budgetary constraints.

One poster quickly multiplied to two. A dozen years later they accumulated to a collection of twenty-four. The posters are all represented here in reverse chronological order.

Looking back and reflecting on the work included in this book, I have identified ten qualities that make the posters enduring.

  1. Clarity of Message- It is my responsibility to ensure that the message conveyed is clear and meaningful. Type size, style and color are used to highlight the most important information.
  2. Dramatic Proportion and Scale- My work pushes the limit of scale and legibility to create engaging and monumental forms. This attracts attention and inspires interest from my audience.
  3. Geometry and Mathematical Proportion- The elements and compositions in my work are built from geometry and use mathematical proportions to achieve balance and beauty.
  4. Emphasis on Typography- I develop custom letterforms to create compositions based upon the lecturer’s initials. This brings originality and uniqueness to each poster.
  5. Grid-based Composition- Every poster starts with the development of a grid system. I use the grid and an underlying structure to support the typography and bring order to the composition.
  6. Reduction of Elements- I work by subtraction. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of a subject in order to develop a strong idea and know what can be taken away without diminishing the message.
  7. Differences within Consistency- I challenge myself to create different and changing forms for each poster while still maintaining a consistent visual vocabulary throughout the series. This ensures a memorable identity for the lecture program as a whole.
  8. Elements of Surprise- When appropriate, I like to incorporate a playful or surprising element into the design. These elements give viewers and unexpected and delightful experience.
  9. Pursuit of Excellence- From the overall composition to the tiniest typographic detail, I strive to achieve the highest level of excellence. This includes working with quality printers and paper manufacturers.
  10. Iterate, Refine, and Repeat- Good design takes time to develop. It’s a process that requires study and reflection. I challenge you to slow down and take the time to create the best design possible.

Rocco Piscatello’s Reflection was originally published in Poster works for FIT: Publication. No part may be used or reproduced in any manner without the written permission from the author, except in the context of reviews.

Poster for David Carson
Fall 2010

Client: Piscatello Design Centre
Design: Piscatello Design Centre
Printer: Brodock Press
Bindery: Bassil Bookbinding

  • Dust Jacket: Book cloth mounted on Strathmore Wove, Midnight Black 70 text
  • Cover: Strathmore Wove, Midnight Black 110 double thick cover
  • Text Pages: Mohawk Superfine Eggshell Ultrawhite 100 text

Production: Foil Stamped front cover, 2 hits of black + PMS, Aqueous Lay Flat Coating, Smyth Sewn

Production Notes

Print Process
Foil Stamping
Materials + Techniques
Aqueous Coatings
Smyth Sewn
Offset Printing Capabilities
4 Color
Piscatello Design Centre

Materials Used

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