Rick Poynor is a British writer on design, graphic design, typography, and visual culture. He began as a general visual arts journalist, working on Blueprint magazine in London. After founding Eye magazine,  which he edited from 1990 to 1997, he focused increasingly on visual communication. He is writer-at-large and columnist of Eye, and a contributing editor and columnist of Print (magazine).
In 1999, Poynor was a co-ordinator of the First Things First 2000 manifesto initiated by Adbusters.  In 2003, he co-founded Design Observer,  a weblog for design writing and discussion, with William Drenttel, Jessica Helfand, and Michael Bierut. He wrote for the site until 2005. He was a visiting professor at the Royal College of Art, London from 1994 to 1999 and returned to the RCA in 2006 as a research fellow. He also taught at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. In 2004, Poynor curated the exhibition, Communicate: Independent British Graphic Design since the Sixties, at the Barbican Art Gallery in London. The exhibition subsequently travelled to four venues in China and to Zurich.
Poynor's writing encompasses both cultural criticism and design history, and his books break down into three categories. He wrote several monographs about significant British figures in the arts and design: Brian Eno (musician), Nigel Coates (architect), Vaughan Oliver (graphic designer), and Herbert Spencer (graphic designer). Other books document and analyse general movements in graphic design and typography. Among these are Typography Now, the first international survey of the digital typography of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and No More Rules, a critical study of graphic design and postmodernism. Poynor also published three essay collections, Design Without Boundaries, Obey the Giant, and Designing Pornotopia, which explore the cultural implications of visual communication, including advertising, photography, branding, graphic design, and retail design.
Poynor was a prominent interviewee in the 2007 documentary film Helvetica.
Published work 
- More Dark Than Shark (with Brian Eno and Russell Mills), Faber & Faber, 1986.
- Nigel Coates: The City in Motion, Fourth Estate, 1989.
- Typography Now: The Next Wave (co-editor with Edward Booth-Clibborn), Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1991. (ISBN 978-1873968420)
- The Graphic Edge, Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1993. (ISBN 978-0891345879)
- Typography Now Two: Implosion (editor), Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1996. (ISBN 978-1861540232)
- Design Without Boundaries: Visual Communication in Transition, Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1998. (ISBN 978-1861540065)
- Looking Closer 3: Classic Writings on Graphic Design (co-editor with Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand and Steven Heller), Allworth Press, 1999.
- Vaughan Oliver: Visceral Pleasures, Booth-Clibborn Editions, 2000. (ISBN 978-1861540720)
- Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World, 2nd edition, Birkhauser, 2007. (ISBN 978-3764385002)
- Typographica, Princeton Architectural Press, 2001. (ISBN 978-1568982984)
- No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism, Laurence King Publishing, 2003. (ISBN 978-1856692298)
- Communicate: Independent British Graphic Design since the Sixties (editor), Laurence King Publishing, 2004.
- Designing Pornotopia: Travels in Visual Culture, Laurence King Publishing, 2006. (ISBN 978-1856694896)
- Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, Steven Heller and D.K. Holland (editors), Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphic Design, Allworth Press, 1994. (ISBN 978-1880559153)
- Jeremy Myerson (editor), Beware Wet Paint: Designs by Alan Fletcher, Phaidon Press, 1996.
- Marvin Scott Jarrett and Dean Kuipers (editors), Ray Gun: Out of Control, Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1997. (ISBN 978-86154040X)
- Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, Steven Heller and D.K. Holland (editors), Looking Closer 2: Critical Writings on Graphic Design, Allworth Press, 1997. (ISBN 978-1880559560)
- Peter Hall and Michael Bierut (editors), Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist, Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1998. (ISBN 978-1861540922)
- Steven Heller (editor), The Education of a Graphic Designer, Allworth Press, 1998. (ISBN 978-1880559994)
- Stephen Coates and Alex Stetter (editors), Impossible Worlds: The Architecture of Perfection, August/Birkhauser, 2000. (ISBN 978-3764363177)
- Michael Bierut, William Drenttel and Steven Heller (editors), Looking Closer Four: Critical Writings on Graphic Design, Allworth Press, 2002. (ISBN 978-1581152353)
- Emily King (editor), Designed by Peter Saville, Frieze, 2003. (ISBN 978-0952741428)
- Susan Yelavich (editor), Profile: Pentagram Design, Phaidon Press, 2004. (ISBN 978-0714843773)
- William S. Saunders (editor), Commodification and Spectacle in Architecture, University of Minnesota Press, 2005.
- Alex Coles (editor), Design and Art, Whitechapel/MIT Press, 2007. (ISBN 978-0262532891)
- Michael Bierut, William Drenttel and Steven Heller (editors), Looking Closer Five: Critical Writings on Graphic Design, Allworth Press, 2007. (ISBN 978-1581154719)
As editor of Monographics series:
- Andrea Codrington, Kyle Cooper, Laurence King Publishing, 2003. (ISBN 978-1856693295)
- Veronique Vienne, Chip Kidd, Laurence King Publishing, 2003.
- Alston W. Purvis, H.N. Werkman, Laurence King Publishing, 2004. (ISBN 978-1856693899)
- Daniel Raeburn, Chris Ware, Laurence King Publishing, 2004. (ISBN 978-1856693974)