— AlexiaKay

Principles of Design Communication

Image Choice

This print ad created by South African advertising agency Bittersuite and SANCOOB, a non-profit organization that aims to protect threatened seabirds, has been designed to alert the public about the rapid decline of the African Penguin population.


The ad has been inspired by the artwork of Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher who’s work explores nature and features mathematical structure, reflection, symmetry, perspective, geometry and explorations of infinity.


Escher’s “Metamorphose”, woodcuts 1939-40, 1967-68


One of the things that really drew me to choose this ad for this project is the mind-bending optical illusion that the artist has created, which is generated from its compelling symmetrical structure. On the very top of the ad one can see the penguins in their full physical form and the grid is symmetrical and everything seems to be “in harmony.” However, as the penguins come closer to each other their shapes and forms slowly start distorting and dissolving. It seems like they are no longer portrayed as penguins but as “objects”, conveying the message that humans have failed to care about them. It is interesting to see that as the penguins start “falling”, the grid stops having the same symmetry and structure. It seems like the designer wanted to intentionally communicate the lack of structure and the lack of shape and form compared to the beginning. Towards the bottom of the poster the penguins start gaining their features again but there is only one left in its full original form, strongly conveying the message that there is only a very few penguins left and we need to protect them before it’s too late.


Horizontal lines have equal spacing in the beginning and then the spacing changes and becomes inconsistent when the penguins start “falling.”





Experimenting with different types of grids. Diamond shapes are formed.


Experimenting with vertical lines. “Cutting” the grid in the edge of the penguins to find again the difference in symmetry and the contrast between the first half and the second half of the image.


The artist plays on positive vs. negative space with the use of black and white color which echoes the look of the penguin and challenges the viewer to see the transition of the penguins from alive to dead.












I did some experimentation with black and white white. It is interesting to see how the colors slowly transition from white to black. This made me think of the symbolism of light vs dark, life vs death, that makes the message of the ad even more powerful.


Sanccob is using Source Sans Pro fonts in all of their communication. This way they are consistent and successfully convey their brand identity. The size of the text is small because the designer gives more emphasis on the image and the visual and then supports the visual with the slogan: “See the reality before it’s too late.”


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