Blood as ink

Pentagram partner Harry Pearce uses his own blood for a poster design that questions the self-destructiveness of the human species.

“It was essential for me to use my own blood,” says Harry Pearce about his most recent poster design. “Using ink would have lacked so much feeling and become a superficial idea.”

The Pentagram partner was invited by the Art Gallery in Maryland to create a poster for the exhibition Questioning the Bomb, opening in early September. The exhibition marks the 70th anniversary of the twin nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an event that is still considered to be one of the most shocking in history. 

Pearce’s poster, “It’s All Our Blood”, is a visual metaphor of a bomb exploding or a mushroom cloud. While Pearce was working on a different project, which involved experimenting with ink drops under water, he was inspired to see how this technique could be used in a similar way – with entirely different connotations. 

Using water and his own blood instead of ink, Pearce and renowned photographer Richard Forster set out to create the perfect image. “I have to take my hat off to Richard, who spent days experimenting with ink, water temperatures, drop heights and finally my blood to get this shot,” says Pearce.

“Using blood was essential, and as I am making a statement, it had to be mine,” explains Pearce. The poster’s title stems from the designer’s belief that what we do to others we are really doing to ourselves. “In the long run, this human species will be seen largely as self-destructive, and the bomb is an extreme example of this.”

Images by cinematographer Christian Carlsson.

Watch the Talk with Harry Pearce