paul bowman works as a graphic designer, illustrator, and sometime editor in digital and print media.
hosting by cooperative electric embers
‘Right View Sutta’ diagram poster
The second of two designs undertaken for the WisdomMe series of printable poster-format aids to discovering concepts in Buddhism. (See the previous: 31 Planes of Existence poster.)
This quite different project in the series presents a less demanding typographical challenge than the other, but hangs equally on the problem of an effective approach to handling space.
The diagram provides for two ideas, conceptually related but functioning separately, to be joined in one layout. The primary part describes relationships concerned in the Buddhist concept of the Four Noble Truths (suffering or burden, dukka, is real; suffering comes about from origin or causes, samudaya; suffering has an end, niroda; and the Eightfold Path leads, magga, to that end). The secondary part is the kusala/akusala opposition outlined at far left.
In this project’s case, my initial draft submission was a design taken to the point of finish, for all intents. This is an unusual way to work, and risky, but I found it difficult to work out the scheme I wanted to propose without addressing many issues at a level of definition approaching finality. This had partly to do with what presented itself to me as the problem of balance and order in 2-dimensional space and partly to do with the way I saw that spatial problem, in turn, constraining options for color and light/dark (‘value’) relationships.
The client was satisfied with the proposal, happily.
My scheme proposed doing without the diagram’s repetition of labels. I aimed to make some of the connections the diagram expresses through repeated text by way of color relationships instead. The client liked this direction. Further thought led to a decision to retain repetition of the labels’ initials (D for ‘dukka,’ S for ‘samudaya,’ etc.) only. Additional Pali term equivalents not in the diagram were introduced at this stage as well, boosting typographical density just a bit.
The last round of revisions followed test printing on equipment of the kind WisdomMe members are likely to use. (A more thorough design process would incorporate tests at an earlier stage; for this project, that wasn’t an option.) Darkening the ground tends to push forward lighter-value elements the horizontal movement of the design depends on, a result in keeping with the poster’s schematic purpose.