This thesis focuses on various design problems facing graphic designers who design visual messages for urban transportation environments, specifically bus and subway systems. The urban transit environment poses a unique challenge for designers because it is multidimensional, and the audience is in constant motion. As David Bernstein describes the transit environment: "It's up, down, all around, in the sky, underground..." (Bernstein, 1997, p. 9). Added to this unique challenge of capturing the audience's fleeting attention span, designers also face problems of space limitations, poor lighting, chaotic placement of posters, and lack of a cohesive visual plan for a transit venue. Urban transit environments offer myriad kinds of information to its audience of pedestrians and mass transit riders. These include: informational (e.g., transit maps), instructional (e.g., signs telling passengers where and where not to stand), wayfinding (e.g., directions to the street, trains, taxis), regulatory (e.g., "no smoking" signs), and promotional advertising (e.g., commercial posters and billboards). This study focuses on promotional advertising issues in both indoor and outdoor transportation venues, the author does so for several reasons: these kinds of messages dominate the transportation environment, and are of particular interest to the author as a designer. Advertisements from colorful posters on subway walls and bus stops, to back-lit commercials, to large billboards and murals covering buses dominate the urban transit landscape and seem to be placed in no particular order and have no master plan. However, despite the chaos of promotional advertising, and possibly due in part to the chaos, it creates a sense of vibrancy and color in the urban landscape.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Advertising; Graphic arts; Commercial art; Transportation markings--Design
Department, Program, or Center
School of Design (CIAS)
Remington, R. Roger
Yildirim-Dessauer, Ozlem, "Graphic design in the urban transportation environment" (2001). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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