February 2010: Philippe Apeloig

The poster has become a sadly neglected medium in Britain, particularly where graphic designers are concerned. Envious glances are cast across the Channel where our European neighbours seem, despite the competing attrac­tions of digital media, to find continued value in this most powerful of graphic forms. Particularly in France, it seems, there remains the opportunity for graphic designers to base a large proportion of their practice on creating powerful posters for cultural institutions. Philippe Apeloig has made the most of this opportunity.

While still a student at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in the mid-80s, Apeloig interned at Total Design in Amsterdam, the studio established by Wim Crouwel among others. Later that decade, in 1988, he spent time working with April Greiman in Los Angeles. Both the grid-based typographic mastery that is Dutch design’s stock in trade and the expressive, playful and determinedly modern outlook of Greiman seem to have had their effect on the young Apeloig. Now established in his own Parisian studio, Apeloig’s work is a rare combination of technological innovation, wit and beauty.

Though his practice encom­passes book design, identities and even animation, it is in the poster where Apeloig’s unique brand of graphic expression finds its purest and most vivid form. Several of his posters appear in the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art while his campaign for the Théâtre du Châtelet was voted the overall winner at this year’s International Society of Typo­graphic Designers awards.

A former fine art student who was drawn to graphic design through his love of letters, Apeloig says that he “considers my posters as I would a painting”.

Posters, for him, provide a huge canvas and a great challenge. The poster, he says, “is an image to give to the street; nobody is waiting for it, nobody needs it”. Posters must fight for and win the attention of the passer-by. Apeloig’s usually come out on top.

Shown here are 16 of Apeloig’s favourite typographic posters.

Philippe Apeloig is a graphic designer who lives and works in his native Paris. He studied at the École Supérieure des Arts Appliqués Duperré and
at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. After intern­ships at both Total Design in Amsterdam and April Greiman in LA, he opened his own studio in Paris. His clients have included the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre, where he has been artistic director since 2003. In addition, he has been a professor at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York where he was also curator of the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography. He is a member of the AGI.


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