Recently, the 99designs Staff visited Organic Updates, a neighborhood art show by David Choong Lee. Our mission was to uncover the differences and similarities between art and graphic design.

While at the gallery, one thing that caught our eyes was the plethora of postcard designs promoting future art shows. We quickly realized design and art are not divorced from each other, but rather they support each other. This got us thinking: what else could we find around our city that includes art and design? Do other artists use these types of promotional materials to arouse interest in their exhibits?

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The answer was, yes! Not only were tons of artists using postcards and fliers to promote their shows, but there were some pretty cool and edgy designs.

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These two designs come from the David Choong Lee show. Notice that even art galleries have logos!

So we went on a hunt to find more of these sweet postcards from art galleries around our fair city — check out what we found!

Meridian Gallery

The Meridian Gallery was altogether quite different from 111 Minna. Minna marketed itself toward the trendy young people of San Francisco, and allowed itself additional income through the sale of beverages and pastries. The Meridian Gallery situated itself as a place for much different people, those with ‘higher’ tastes and a desire for organization, curation and crisp, clear lighting.

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The design of the promotional artwork was much like the space — crisp and clear with minimal distractions from the words. The design of the postcard folds which allows it to function more like a catalog than an invitation to a party, like the Minna postcard.

Meyerovich Gallery

The Meyerovich Gallery is located near Union Square, San Francisco’s high-end shopping district. It is easy to see how this location affects its postcard design. Instead of focusing just on the artist’s work, it shows the gallery itself promoted the work inside of its space.

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These galleries made extra effort to set their collections apart from the other spaces available only a few doors or flights of stairs away.

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The postcard designs strongly featured artist’s key artworks while accentuating their famous names.

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Hespe Gallery

At Hespe Gallery, we spoke to the woman who actually did the design for the promotional piece below. Her concerns while designing were correctly including the images provided from the (sometimes flaky) artists themselves, while making sure she understood the specifications of each show.

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For this one, which is a group exhibit of nudes posed a particular problem. The gallery simply could not be handing out girlie postcards as if we were in the nearby Red Light District of North Beach. No no no.

Instead, in order to reflect this classy show in its promotional artwork, the designer had to solve the problem of evoking the feeling of the nude, without actually showing the nude. We enjoy her compilation, as it is tasteful and also highlights the group nature of the exhibit.

Varnish Gallery

Our final stop on the tour was the Varnish Gallery, conveniently located mere blocks away from our offices. This gallery, more like 111 Minna, was catered to a viewing population of young professionals in the downtown business neighborhood of San Francisco.

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The design for the gallery’s business card indicates the casual and hip nature of the gallery.

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The artwork at the gallery had a punk theme. Although we don’t necessarily agree this image was the most stunning of the collection, you can see a number of similarly colored images from the exhibition, a designer’s choice that brings together the grander flow of the design. Additionally, the designer was commissioned to create a logo for this particular show, outside of the logo of the gallery itself as seen in the above business card.

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In this postcard design, you can see the style of art, and also the style of design — i.e. a less tidy design incorporated on a solid black background with white, bold fonts.

Next time you’re out in the streets of your city and town, be sure to check out any and all free art shows. They are always good for a dose of creative inspiration. And of course, don’t forget that design has its fingers in it all. Happy viewing!

Have any sweet postcard designs to share?