Grade Poster


This poster was part of a study on semiotics. I think the function of communication is an interesting and important topic for designers. The aim of this project was to explore the various levels of meaning surrounding a word and to create a poster that represented my findings. This poster was a way to frame my research; it exists as more of a study than a traditionally functional piece of design. To start I picked a word from a hat to use for the project.

The word I picked was 'Grade'


The term grade can be used in many contexts as both a verb or a noun. The first use that came to mind for me was the grading systems that rate the difficulty of rock climbs. The word grade also has specific meanings in the fields of education, engineering, mathematics, and healthcare among others. By looking into the different applications of the word I was able to synthesize my own definition:

The act of quantifying or qualifying an object in relation to its peers in order to make a usable ranking.


Looking at the examples of grading were helpful when I was coming up with a definition, but they did’t provide a very helpful visual language to use for the poster. I decided to reevaluate the problem and the approach that I had taken so far by instead looking at the core act of grading. What does the concept of grading look like? I decided that the best way to represent grading was to demonstrate it on a set of objects. I needed something that was unique enough to distinguish between, yet was neutral enough to not distract from the concept. While walking to class, I realized that the gravel I was standing on would be perfect.

Grade Poster
Grade Poster


At this point the process was pretty straight forward: Scoop up a random selection of rocks, order them based on size, arrange the rocks in a grid, and photograph them.

In order to best present and showcase the concept, I wanted the poster to feel structured and quiet. To accomplish this, I took a formal approach to the page shape, spacing, and type by strictly implementing a ratio to create all of my measurements. I decided to light the rocks in a way that would highlight their individual details and bring out their differences.

Grade Poster