is a British writer, critic, lecturer and curator, specialising in design, media, photography and visual culture. He is Visiting Professor in Design Criticism and Research Methods at the postgraduate Royal College of Art in London.
He was the founding editor of Eye
magazine in London, which he edited from 1990 to 1997, and he has contributed the “Critique” column to Eye
since 1999. He has written a regular column for Print
magazine since 2000. His articles, essays and reviews have appeared in I.D., Metropolis, Harvard Design Magazine, Adbusters, Blueprint, Icon, Frieze, Creative Review, Etapes, Domus, The Guardian, Financial Times
and many other publications. In 2003, he was a co-founder of Design Observer.
Poynor’s first book, with the artist Russell Mills, was More Dark Than Shark
(1986), a study of Brian Eno. Typography Now: The Next Wave
(1991), the first survey to document the new digital typography, became an international bestseller. Poynor’s books about design and the visual arts include Vaughan Oliver: Visceral Pleasures
(2001); No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism
(2003); Communicate: Independent British Graphic Design Since the Sixties
(2004); and Jan van Toorn: Critical Practice
(2008). He has published three collections of his essays and cultural criticism: Design Without Boundaries
(1998); Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World
(2001); and Designing Pornotopia
He has contributed essays and chapters to many publications, among them Commodification and Spectacle in Architecture
(2005); Looking Closer Five: Critical Writings on Graphic Design
(2006); Design and Art
(2007); Colors Notebook: Violence
(2008); Now is the Time: Art & Theory in the 21st Century
(2009); Design in Britain
(2009); Postmodernism: Style and Subversion, 1970-1990
(2011); Stedelijk Collection Reflections
(2012); The Transdisciplinary Studio
(2012); Notes from the Cosmic Typewriter: The Life and Work of Dom Sylvester Houédard
(2012); and Multiple Signatures
In 2004, he was curator of a major survey exhibition, “Communicate: Independent British Graphic Design since the Sixties”, at the Barbican Art Gallery, London. The show travelled to China and Switzerland. In 2009, he curated “Typographica” at the Kemistry Gallery, London. His most recent exhibition, “Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design”, the first international and historical survey of this subject, ran at the Moravian Gallery in Brno, Czech Republic, in the summer of 2010 and at the Kunsthal, Rotterdam, in fall 2011.
Poynor was a Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art (1994-1999) and a Research Fellow at the college (2006-2009). He has also taught at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. He is a frequent lecturer and has spoken about design and visual culture at public events, conferences and design schools throughout Europe, the United States, Australia, and China.
In 2007, he was a featured interviewee in the hit documentary Helvetica