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Surrealism had a far-reaching influence on the fields of culture, art, and society. So what’s so special about surrealism in graphic design? Let’s find out through the following article with Malu


1. What is Surrealism?

Surrealism  is an artistic tendency derived from Symbolism and psychoanalysis, placing irrationality above reason. Accordingly, the designs create overwhelming  extraordinary illustrations  , liberate people from all social shackles, express introspection and natural thinking. The works of the surrealist artist record all the ever-changing mental states of the subconscious, regardless of reality or fantasy. As a pop culture movement, surrealism has had an impact on areas beyond design, such as literature, music, and film.


Surrealists love to challenge their audience with scenes that make no sense and prompt the viewer to ponder the artwork with a mixture of curiosity and, at times, shock. Artwork created in a surrealistic pattern is at once vivid and mundane, interesting and out of place, familiar and alien, the product of the liberation of the unconscious mind expressed in what is called automatic drawing.

2. Characteristics of Surrealism

The beauty of this style is that you will have so many different interpretations and perspectives when enjoying them. Sometimes you see it as a fantasy scene in some crazy dream, or sometimes you are silent before the naked reality.

Here are the characteristics of surrealist works:

  • Shocking factor
  • Asymmetry or disproportion
  • Unreal state
  • Colourful
  • Metaphorism
  • Freeing from common sense and logic, encouraging imagination
  • Phi logic
  • White space or negative space
  • Abstract, descriptive and psychological elements galore
  • The removal of common sense from ordinary, everyday objects


3. Some composition techniques in surrealism

Decalcomania  – a decorative method for transferring prints and carvings onto ceramics or 3D objects

Photomontage  – create a composition by overlapping, cropping or rearranging two or more separate images into one

Aerography  – is a method in which 3D objects are used to make spray paint molds

Involuntary sculpture  – A random sculpting technique, the work is created by pouring a molten metal into cold water to form a random shape

Heatage  – Method in which the exposed negative image is heated from below, creating an emulsion and the subsequent image to develop randomly

Cubomania  – A method of creating a collage in which the image is divided into squares and they are randomly rearranged


Éclaboussure  – Use watercolors, oil paints, turpentine or splashed water.

Grattage  – The painting process in which wet paint is scraped off a painting

Parsemage  – A method by which dust from pastels or charcoal is distributed over the surface of the water, then skimmed across cardboard or paper just below the surface of the water.

Triptography  – A way of taking pictures in which a roll of film is used three times for a triple exposure, so that no single image has a distinct subject

Étrécissements  – Also known as visual art reproduction, whereby pieces of a cut-out image are used to create a new image

Bulletism  – This is a technique where ink is shot onto a piece of white paper, then artists can create images based on what they see.

Collage  – The process by which artwork is created using cutting, tearing and gluing different objects in one place.

Soufflage  – A method of creating images based on blowing into liquid paint to create shapes

Note the consistency of this movement’s philosophy: not only are the designs unique, but the approach to creating these designs is markedly different from any style you’ve encountered before.

4. Application in graphic design

Web design



Logo design



Tranh illustration



Album cover

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Book cover

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In the end,

Hopefully the above article has helped you better understand the effects of surrealism in graphic design.