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Professor Rick Poynor

  • I lecture across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes
  • I supervise BA and MA dissertations and PhD research students


Room B3, Typography & Graphic Communication

Building location

Whiteknights campus (Building 21, TOB2)

Areas of interest

My research interests in the field of graphic communication are broad and much of my writing as journalist, critic and historian has focused on the intersection of graphic design with adjacent areas of the arts and on design as a pervasive and transformative component of visual culture.

I have lectured on these subjects at conferences and public events around the world and have worked internationally as a curator of design exhibitions.

I am currently researching the history and development of the relationship between photography and graphic design, both in theory and practice, in the field of print.

I have a long-standing interest in self-initiated projects by graphic designers and notions of graphic authorship, in experimental modes of design practice, including critical and speculative design, and in visual communication as a means of activism.

My books relating to these concerns include: 

  • Typography now: the next wave (1991), the first international survey of the new experimental typography
  • Typographica (2001), a study of Herbert Spencer's influential mid-century design journal
  • No more rules: graphic design and postmodernism (2003), a critical survey of the development, since the 1970s, of postmodern practices in visual communication
  • Communicate: independent British graphic design since the sixties, the catalogue for an exhibition I curated in 2004 at the Barbican Art Gallery in London
  • Jan van Toorn: critical practice (2008), a monograph about the politically motivated Dutch graphic designer
  • Uncanny: surrealism and graphic design (2010), a catalogue for an exhibition at the Moravian Gallery in Brno.

From the position of both participant and observer, I have written extensively about the development, over the past three decades, of critical approaches to graphic communication delivered by both printed and online forms of publication. I was the founding editor of Eye magazine (in 1990) and the co-founder of the Design Observer website (in 2003), and have written an essay column for Print magazine in the US since 2000.

I have taught critical writing to MA students at the Royal College of Art and at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

My critical writings have been collected as:

  • Design without boundaries (1998)
  • Obey the giant: life in the image world (2001)
  • Designing pornotopia (2006).

Online archives of my writing:

Selected publications


Poynor, R. and Seago, A., (2017) Where is this Pop? In search of the British Pop poster. In: Massey, A. and Seago A. (eds.) Pop art and design. Bloomsbury Academic, London. (In Press)

Poynor, R. (2017) The birth of modern typography. In: Dominic Bradbury (ed.) Modernist design complete. Thames & Hudson, London. (In Press)


Poynor, R. (2016) Graphic anarchy in the UK. In: Oh so pretty: punk in print 1976-80. pp. 18-23. Phaidon, London. ISBN 978 0 7148 7275 9

Poynor, R. (2016) The prospects and limits of connection. In: Meltzer, B. and Von Oppeln, T. Rethinking the modular: adaptable systems in architecture and design. pp. 58-69. Thames & Hudson, London. ISBN 978 0 500 29235 8

Poynor, R (2016). Take my concept (about Boris Bućan). Eye 23 (92). pp. 28-37. ISSN 0960-779X

Poynor, R. (2016). Boris Bućan's early posters. In: Bonjeković Stojković, K. (ed.) Boris Bućan: breakfast at the printer's. pp. 14-25. Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb. ISBN 978 953 7615 94 9

Poynor, R. (2016). Clash of specialisms: the writer as photographer. In: Blamey, D. (ed.) Specialism. pp. 91-99. Open Editions, London. ISBN 978 0 949004 01 7


 Poynor, R. (2015) Postmodern typography: remaking the alphabet, dismantling the page. In: Hoeks, H. and Lentjes, E. (eds.) The triumph of typography: culture, communication, new media. pp. 122-32. ArtEZ Press, Arnhem. ISBN 978 90 8989 628 5

Poynor, R. (2015) The typographic voice. In: Williams, S. and Kubel. H. New perspectives in typography. pp. 70-72. Laurence King Publishing, London. ISBN 978 1 78067 306 6

Poynor, R. (2015) Foreword. In: The debate: the legendary contest of two graphic design giants (Wim Crouwel and Jan van Toorn). pp. 7-12. Monacelli Press, New York. ISBN 978 1 58093 412 1


 Poynor, R. (2014) Slips, shifts and dislocations. In: Poynor, R. (ed.) Sergei Sviatchenko: collages. pp. 6-12. Schlebrügge.Editor, Vienna. ISBN 987 3 902833 65 5

Poynor, R. (2014) Pay close attention (about Project Projects). Eye 23 (89). pp. 50-63. ISSN 0960-779X

Poynor, R. (2014) The retoucher's accidental art. Eye 22 (88). pp. 12-19. ISSN 0960-779X


Poynor, R. (2013) Introduction. In: Brittain, D. Eduardo Paolozzi at New Worlds: science fiction and art in the sixties. pp. 8-18. Savoy Books, Manchester. ISBN 978 0 86130 128 7

Poynor, R. and Rock. M. (2013) What is this thing called design criticism? Parts 1 (1995) and 2 (2011). In: Rock, M. (ed.) Multiple signatures: on designers, authors, readers and users. pp. 227-40. Rizzoli, New York. ISBN 978 08478 3973 5

Poynor, R. (2013) Screen prints (about RCA film posters). Eye 22 (85). pp. 28-35. ISSN 0960-779X


Poynor, R. (2012) Out of the studio: graphic design history and visual studies. In: De Bondt, S. and De Smet, C. (eds.) Graphic design: history in the writing (1983-2011). pp. 282-93. Occasional Papers, London. ISBN 978 0 9569623 0 0

Poynor, R. (2012) DSH's typestracts: horizons and spirit levels. In: Simpson, N. (ed.) Notes from the cosmic typewriter: the life and work of Dom Sylvester Houédard. pp. 32-41. Occasional Papers, London. ISBN 978 0 9569623 3 1

Poynor, R. (2012) Graphic images. In: Bell, J. (ed.) 39 steps to the genius of Hitchcock. pp. 119-21. British Film Institute, London. ISBN 978 1 84457 534 3

Poynor, R. (2012) Utopian image: politics and posters. In: Van Adrichem, J. and Martis, A. (eds.) Stedelijk Collection Reflections. pp. 429-40. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. ISBN 97 8946 208 002 7

Poynor, R. (2012) The useful art of graphic design. In: Reeve, O. (ed.) The perfect place to grow: 175 years of the Royal College of Art. pp. 104-15. Royal College of Art, London. ISBN 978 1 907342 51 6