Sukhada Apte


Culture affects design decisions and design in turn affects how culture evolves.

For centuries, societies have migrated around the globe, taking elements of their design and culture with them in the forms of art, musics, tools, and textiles and picking up new design forms as they moved. Most societies today are a mix of many cultures, and an analysis of their design history reflects the evolution of those cultures. We see influences of far away places in design that comes out of our own backyards. The United States of America is a rich cultural and design experience for a foreign student, who comes from India. An American student feels the same surprise of culture and design upon visiting India. Being immersed in such very different design cultures heightens their understanding of their own. The differences and similarities between these two cultures and their design styles are what inspired this thesis and the problems that it tackles.

This thesis is a comparative study of visual design in India and the USA and opens a discussion about possible influences on each by observing the differences and similarities between the two. A comparative design study was undertaken in this thesis of posters from the USA and India during the time period of 1940 - 2010. The posters were put into a matrix and analyzed for typography, illustration, color techniques and purpose. The visual dissection of the posters revealed possible connections and influences these two countries have had in each other.

The results of this analysis were made into an interactive timeline that can be accessed and followed by viewers. The usability of the timeline was testes and feedback and comments were elicited from people who viewed the timeline.

East to West is a step towards better understanding the mutual influences on forms of design and expression that grew from interactions of Indian and USA cultures and how these forms have made their place in graphic design history.

Interactive Timeline

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Posters, Indic--20th century; Posters, Indic--21st century; Posters, American--20th century; Posters, American--21st century; Comparative arts

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Visual Communication Design (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Design (CIAS)


Nancy Ciolek

Advisor/Committee Member

Lorrie Frear

Advisor/Committee Member

Therese Hannigan


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at NC1807.I4 A78 2014


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes