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One Color Wonders

The University and College Designers Association (UCDA) recognized that great print design work isn’t always “four colors plus some” by adding a new category to its latest annual design competition: “Best use of color in a printed publication-two colors or less.”

This is exciting news for me (a designer for academia) because I have the blessing/curse of often working on projects with strapped budgets. Less money to play with for BIG print jobs usually means occassionally having the exciting challenge of working around sacrifices in the number of inks possible to use or in choice of paper.

Because of these budget conscious circumstances, I am always excited to find inspiring design pieces — on the Web or in my mailbox or books and magazines — that are interesting, fun, and/or splashy without being your average full-color bonanzas.

So show me your snappy stuff (or the stuff of others) that you totally dig that might have been a bit restricted in budget!

If you need a place to host an image, send me a quick email at [email protected] with your file attached and I’ll toss ‘em online in my server space over my lunch hour.

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PUBLISHED ON Jul.24.2003 BY joy olivia
joy olivia’s comment is:

This is a postcard I created last spring for an annual dinner held by the University of Chicago for some of its donors.

I used two PMS colors for the design, which was printed on a nice, smooth cream cover stock. It was enclosed in an A7 envelope with a smaller (matching) reply card and envelope.

On Jul.24.2003 at 09:44 AM
joy olivia’s comment is:

I have always loved these album covers for their simplicity:

On Jul.24.2003 at 10:00 AM
joy olivia’s comment is:

I'm a sucker for great book covers, and Speak Up's very own Rebecca Giménez has a knack for creating real winners with limited color that have inspired me whenever I have hunted online for inspiration for interesting ways to do more with less.

Some of my favorites from those she has posted online at her Web site include the following:

For even more great ideas, be sure to bookmark and check out her portfolio of work at http://www.rebecky.com/design.

On Jul.24.2003 at 10:09 AM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Great topic, Joy!

Some one color trivia: Up until only a few years ago, People Magazine was only in one color--except the ads and the cover. The entire editorial content of the mag was in black and white. Kinda puts the memories of those old Farrah photos in a whole new light.

Didn't mean to bring the intellect of this discussion down...just thought you might enjoy the trivia.

On Jul.24.2003 at 10:29 AM
joy olivia’s comment is:

Thanks Debbie.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company's latest production "Homebody/Kabul" has a great look, thanks in part to the illustration and typography:

On Jul.24.2003 at 11:08 AM
Dan’s comment is:

When I was in college I worked in the office that produced posters for campus events. We had a really bad offset press and had to make the most of it. I love using two complementary colors and creating a third:

On Jul.24.2003 at 11:48 AM
Amanda’s comment is:

I do so much two color work its ridiculous - but I enjoy it! I think the limitations sometimes can make the design stronger - I have posted a few posters I have done in two color in the past year:

On Jul.24.2003 at 11:51 AM
Paul’s comment is:

Here's a two-color CD cover I did for a local band.

On Jul.24.2003 at 12:10 PM
Patrick’s comment is:

Nice posters, Amanda.

Here is a set of 2-c promo materials I did for a chamber music fest about a year ago.

On Jul.24.2003 at 12:23 PM
rebecca’s comment is:

Thanks for the compliment Joy! And great topic too.

I'm constantly amazed by the designers on gigposters.com because they work so well within the limitations of screen printing (or xerox machines for pete's sake!). The first time I designed a poster for screen printing, I had no idea there was no trapping. No trapping!!! And the guys who printed my poster use these shiny plastisol inks that can't overprint. No overprinting!!! I was completely at a loss. It ended up turning out ok but was quite a learning experience.

Lately I've been admiring the work of a local, Dale Flattum, who makes the coolest xeroxed handbills south of the Mason-Dixon.

On Jul.24.2003 at 03:34 PM
Sam’s comment is:

Oh yeah, great work, everyone!

This from Reid Miles, one of the masters of 2 colors.

These are both from here, which is in a Scandinavian language I don't recognize but has lots more great stuff.

On Jul.24.2003 at 04:03 PM
eric’s comment is:

joy, great thread.

to follow are a couple of images from Carouschka's "Tickets" book...


so informative and beautiful.

On Jul.24.2003 at 09:03 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

Has anyone seen this book? It may interest some of you.

(or xerox machines for pete's sake!)

I find photocopies to be beautiful. While doing research for a paper in college on a micro fiche machine, I printed a few "captures" out just because they were so aesthetically pleasing.

I had no idea there was no trapping.

There is trapping in screenprinting. Lots of it.

I find desgin/art like this from Mexico to be a great example of two color work. Perhaps it mainly has to do with the color choices and combination? Like Dan's example - it just stands out.

On Jul.25.2003 at 09:54 AM
Todd’s comment is:

Wow. Outstanding examples. I was always really attracted to the 2-color and budget printing articles in HOW and Step-by-Step Graphics that I used to read when I just got out of college. The simplicity and contraints really focuses the message and makes the final result so much more impactful.

Personally, I have a really difficult time working with more than a couple colors and usually prefer just plain old black-and-white. Even the photographers I really like lean towards monochromatic colors schemes... Burtynsky and Gursky, for example.

On Jul.25.2003 at 03:02 PM
Peter’s comment is:

Sam wrote:

"...a Scandinavian language I don't recognize..."

It's Swedish :)

On Jul.25.2003 at 03:20 PM
Helen’s comment is:

Thanks for the great topic, Joy. I also work within a university, as the sole designer for a postgraduate student association at the University of Melbourne in Australia. I'm always working with small budgets, so one or two colours are normally all I have to work with.

This image (which hopefully Joy will link for me, thank you!) is the cover of a postgraduate journal I designed last year. It's just one PMS and black.

Thanks Rebecca for the reminder about gigposters.com. For more gig stuff -- which I'm sure everyone here's already familiar with , but just in case -- Aesthetic Apparatus does some fantastic two-colour work as well. Always inspiring.

On Jul.28.2003 at 02:35 AM
joy olivia’s comment is:

Here's Helen's cover:

On Jul.28.2003 at 07:53 AM
joy olivia’s comment is:

Unable to afford a nice, slick 4-color piece like other Universities tend to have budgets to produce, we opted for a one-color (with diecuts) cover and three color inside for the past two year's Reunion/Alumni Weekend registration guide.

The cover was printed on a bright yellow stock with a mustardy pms. What appears to be red and black ink is really just the first inside page (which was printed on an inexpensive white text weight stock) showing through the diecuts on the bright yellow cover.

I used a lot of halftones and heavy ink coverage throughout the inside pages since we were unable to run any full-color pictures or clip art. The piece was text heavy, but the spot colors -- I thought -- helped to make the piece more playful.

Registration (and attendance) jumped markably the year this piece was sent out which meant I was allowed to do something similar this year. And, luckily, the numbers jumped higher again. I credit the positive changes in the programming and the marketing, which previously hadn't been as "fun."

On Jul.28.2003 at 08:01 AM
pedro vit’s comment is:

Hi. Here's a two-color poster I did for the yearly book fair for the University of Mexico at the palacio de miner´┐Ża

(Thanks to Joy Olivia for hosting my image in her website and for not waiting to do it till her lunch time)

On Jul.28.2003 at 08:44 AM
nato’s comment is:

A little misinformation for a house music club night. Created as a reaction to 'war' propaganda and general uneasiness (which persists to this day....)

Printed one color in a camo green pms for full symbolic effect.

On Sep.11.2003 at 11:24 PM
joy olivia’s comment is:

Love the collage feel, especially the inclusion of the Mr. New Yorker guy at the top of the first "1"

On Sep.12.2003 at 12:26 PM