Designed to command: Stop, Think, Go, Do

[Tom Biederbeck] The graphical interventions in Stop, Think, Go, Do are present in our lives cradle to grave. The latest book by Steven Heller and Mirko Ilic presents behavioral graphics from around the world, including recent examples never published in the U.S. Steven Heller comments on their reason for doing the book, its global scope and what’s new in “telling us to do this and not do that.”

What was your motivation for doing the book?
The motivation is simple. I’ve always loved the stop sign. This book is an homage to that sign.

Design by Steff Geiesbuler

What was the process of assembling it?
Mirko spread the net. His connections in East and West Europe are key to the success of our books, in large part because we in the U.S. don’t see much of this material.

Design by Atelier van Wageningen

The medium is paper, but the motif of this poster for a poetry event is the human body. Design by Dragana Nikolic.

Left: Poster design by Jee-eun Lee. Right: Poster design by Mirko Ilic.

Did you learn anything about how behavioral graphics have changed over time?
There is an upsurge in direct communication. It is as though our info-drowning culture demands demanding words and images. Otherwise the message is lost. Graphic design is a VERB.

Design by Erik Brandt

Design by Erik Kessels

Posters for a play titled Revolution, designed by Nenad Trifunovic

Left: Design by Michel Bouvet. Right: Design by Louise Fili.

You use Shepherd Fairey’s “Obey” graphics as an example of an ironic instruction. Is this kind of “anti-command” something new?
Not really. There has long been a tradition of irony in satiric posters. But I suspect the messages of the past have been more direct because the media intensity was not as hot.

Repurposing signs of the highway: Innerstate by Jean-Benoit Lévy

Stop, Think, Go, Do: How Typography and Graphic Design Influence Behavior, by Steven Heller and Mirko Ilic, with book design by Landers Miller Design, is published by Rockport Publishers. Buy it at Amazon, Rockport Publishers or your local bookseller.

All images courtesy of Rockport Publishers © 2012

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