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Artwork of the Week

Artwork of the Week: Winter 1982 Calendar of Events

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McRay Magleby, 'Winter 1982 Calendar of Events,' 1982, lithograph, 36 1/4 x 12 1/8 inches. Brigham Young Museum of Art, gift of BYU Publication and Graphics, 2016.

McRay Magleby (1941-), known by most as Mac, is considered one of the most influential American poster artists of the 20th century. Mac is perhaps most well-known for the nearly 1,000 silk-screened posters he created for BYU’s deadlines and events. In addition to the posters and publications created for BYU, Mac engaged in competitions and commissions for public and private works and was named “Designer of the Decade” by CASE in 1986.

This 1982 calendar of events for BYU’s Winter Semester is both informative and exemplary of poster art from the early 1980s. Visually, the poster has bold colors, crisp lines, and youthful enthusiasm for winter activities. Contrary to advertising best practices of the time, however, Mac shrunk the poster information into a thin banner along the left side of the poster.

Before the development of digital media in the late 20th century, posters and flyers were the most effective way to disseminate information to large audiences. Figuring out how to catch a viewer’s attention became an important skill for a graphic designer to develop. Mac came up with a successful strategy that minimized text and maximized the image. He called it “50-5-5.” The numbers represent the distance from the work of art at which the viewer will notice different things:

50 feet: The image is attractive and generates curiosity.

5 feet: The text is readable.

5 inches: Extra details for people who like to get close to the posters.

No doubt this poster would have attracted a student’s attention and then delivered the catalog of wintertime events.

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