Rick Poynor

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Rick Poynor
BornUnited Kingdom
GenreJournalism, graphic design, art

Rick Poynor is an English writer on design, graphic design, typography, and visual culture.[1]


He began as a general visual arts journalist, working on Blueprint magazine in London. After founding Eye magazine,[2] 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.[3] In 2003, he co-founded Design Observer,[4] 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.[5]

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 (Typography Now Two followed five years later), 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. In 2020, Yale University Press published his book about the work of graphic designer David King.[6] In 2023, Occasional Papers published Why Graphic Culture Matters, a collection of 46 of his essays written over the past two decades.[7]

Poynor was a prominent interviewee in the 2007 documentary film Helvetica.

Published work[edit]

As author[edit]

  • Why Graphic Culture Matters, Rick Poynor, Occasional Papers, 2023. ISBN 978-1-9196277-1-7
  • 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, 1991. ISBN 978-1-873968-42-0.
  • The Graphic Edge, Booth-Clibborn, 1993. ISBN 978-0-89134-587-9.
  • Typography Now Two: Implosion (editor), Booth-Clibborn, 1996. ISBN 978-1-86154-023-2.
  • Design Without Boundaries: Visual Communication in Transition, Booth-Clibborn, 1998. ISBN 978-1-86154-006-5.
  • Looking Closer 3: Classic Writings on Graphic Design (co-editor with Michael Bierut, Jessica Helfand and Steven Heller), Allworth , 1999.
  • Vaughan Oliver: Visceral Pleasures, Booth-Clibborn, 2000. ISBN 978-1-86154-072-0.
  • Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World, 2nd edition, Birkhauser, 2007. ISBN 978-3-7643-8500-2.
  • Typographica, Princeton Architectural Press, 2001. ISBN 978-1-56898-298-4.
  • No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism, Laurence King, 2003. ISBN 978-1-85669-229-8.
  • Communicate: Independent British Graphic Design since the Sixties (editor), Laurence King, 2004.
  • Designing Pornotopia: Travels in Visual Culture, Laurence King, 2006. ISBN 978-1-85669-489-6.
  • David King: Designer, Activist, Visual Historian, Yale University Press, 2020. ISBN 9780300250107

As contributor[edit]

As editor of Monographics series[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Poynor, Rick (August 28, 2004). "Rick Poynor: Why design is at the core of 21st-century visual culture". The Guardian – via www.theguardian.com.
  2. ^ "Eye Magazine". www.eyemagazine.com. Archived from the original on November 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "Eye Magazine | Feature | First Things First Manifesto 2000". www.eyemagazine.com.
  4. ^ "Design Observer: Writings on Design + Visual Culture: Design Observer". www.designobserver.com.
  5. ^ "Britishcouncil.org". Archived from the original on January 16, 2009.
  6. ^ Poynor, Rick. "About this site". David King: Designer, Activist, Visual Historian. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  7. ^ "Why Graphic Culture Matters by Rick Poynor Occasional Papers". Occasional Papers. Retrieved 2023-10-18.

External links[edit]