Object Permanence.

Christopher Doyle
2 min readJul 23, 2023
Hamlet for Bell Shakespeare. Photography by Pierre Toussaint.

The following text was taken from our 2023 studio publication, Nothing I Know Belongs To Me, published by Formist.

Posters embody everything I love about design. The limitations, the scale, the tension, the harmony (or dissonance), the permanence. And most of all the stillness. A poster is a freeze frame. A moment when the elements stop moving or changing in scale, and become fixed for good. I love that a poster has to finish.

In the second studio I worked in, Saatchi Design, we made sure posters were a part of every project. It didn’t matter what the project was, or what we had been briefed to deliver. We always made posters, and as many as possible. Variation and play were always encouraged. I remember my Creative Director Julian saying, ‘One’s a poster, three’s a campaign’. Sometimes we would run them out of the plan printer for proofing. I loved the scale and impact. A larger-than-life assembly of a project’s elements. Sometimes simple and minimal, other times visually complex and layered. As designers, it felt as close as we could get to making art on a canvas.

Not long after I started I worked on the campaign identity for The Sydney Writers’ Festival. It was a brief that everyone in the studio was encouraged to work on. There was no hierarchy when it came to ideas. Whoever solved it, ran with it. As a young, inexperienced designer I found that pressure as terrifying as I did thrilling. In 2003, the concept I had worked on made its way across the approval line. The main output was a series of bus shelter posters that ran the length of George Street in Sydney. I would take a bus to work that drove the length of that street, and every few hundred metres I would see one of the posters, larger than life, announcing the festival to the city. It was a new kind of joy and pride I had not previously experienced. It wasn’t about looking at the work we’d made,
but about seeing what we’d made, at work.

Posters are still a priority in our studio today. Like record covers, they have remained fixed in their format and their allure. They are the testing ground for every project. We agonise over margin depth, type alignments, and image crops. We debate the journey of the eye. Posters are canvases that allow us to start, finish, and then start over. To stretch and pull the elements and explore their relationships to each other, until we feel it’s time to stop.