Thinking Peace 2014

Think Peace 2014 poster by Pravin Sevak

The New Year’s greeting comes from Professor Pravin Sevak, Graphic Design Professor in the Art Department of Vincennes University. I borrowed the design with his permission to wish my readers a Happy New Year from Art Space Vincennes.

The New Year is quickly aging! I could have also called this blog Intelligent Design, because of Sevak’s beautifully constructed image. It is so for many reasons. Let me explain; though some of this is obvious, some of this is wonderfully subtle.

The typical phrase ”Happy New Year” is eliminated, but we know it is a New Year ‘s greeting because it wishes us a “PEACEFUL TWO THOUSAND AND FOURTEEN – SEVAK”. While this greeting is in all capital letters, the size of the type is de-emphasized with smaller letters. 2014 is written in letters, not numerals, luring us to spend more time reading the message. The designer’s surname follows, partially to own authorship for the design, but also to create a personal message to the viewer.

The New Year’s greeting might be enough for some, but the main composition above dominates and creates a puzzle and a play on words that communicates something serious. The composition is comprised of a large outline of a square with letters inside of it and one letter outside of it to the left. All these elements are a darker reddish violet and they contrast with the lighter yellow-green background. On a standard color wheel, we find that these are opposite each other. This pairing of colors has a special name: a complementary color scheme. That same name pertains to any set of complementary pairs. They tend to be vibrant and serious. One might recall Christmas colors red/green or Easter colors yellow/violet, chosen, basically for the importance of their Christian meanings. Most would agree that the yellow green is spring-like, while the reddish violet speaks of passion, almost like Easter. Their respective lightness and darkness offer strong contrast to ensure legibility.

The stark simplicity of the design offers no distraction, yet there is playfulness in the letters through their shapes and angles, their boldness and how they fit all boxed up into the square–all but one, a curious lower case “i” on the lower left. The ones in the box spell THNK in upper case letters. Through gestalt psychology, we know the mind will create connections that don’t physically exist. We literally tend to see THNK as THINK. We might consider the lower case “i” to be the missing i in THNK, but for some reason it is lower case! It would not fit inside the box anyway. We might also consider it the beginning of a sentence, “ I THINK.” After all, its placement on the left, is like at the beginning of a sentence. Again, the beginning of a sentence should be capitalized and the reference to self, “I” is also capitalized. The message becomes a riddle. We look again. The double function of the lower case i leads us to reconsider its location, outside the box, a third function for the “i”. Finally, we consider the box itself; the reader reads, ”I think outside the box.” Sevak has taken us to multiple levels of understanding the composition from all points of view, but there is one more. The message, “I think out side the box”, in the context of the smaller words at the bottom, would mean “I think outside the box to create peace in 2014.”—a possible New Year’s resolution for each of us, at home, at work, our city, our state and federal governments, our nation and the world.

Vincennes is lucky to have a designer as gifted as Pravin Sevak. He has won many international awards for his projects, because I am sure he designs not only with his eyes and brain, but also with his heart. He has donated his designs to several charities in town. He represents the best of his native country, India, and the best of the United States his adopted country to which he contributes much.

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