Illustrator Type Week: Concrete Poetry

Objective: Use the Type Tools, Effects Menu, Appearance panel and Graphic Styles panel in Illustrator to produce a Visual Poem using expressive text and the Principles of Design.

Student Friendly Objective: I can use Illustrator to produce a concrete poem with expressive type.

Web Link:
Adobe Illustrator CS5 Tutorial 37 | Appearances & Graphic Styles:

Topics Discussed:

  • Typography
  • Appearance Panel
  • Graphic Styles Panel
  • Effect Menu
  • Warp Dialog
  • Post-Modernism
  • Expressive Text


Watch the “Adobe Illustrator CS5 Tutorial 37 | Appearances & Graphic Styles” tutorial video. Review the tutorial if necessary to refresh your memory on how to use the Appearance Panel, and how to save object appearances as Graphic Styles.

We have been using Illustrator’s unique tools to produce Expressive Text over the last couple of days. Today we are going to put what we have learned to good use by using Expressive Text to produce a concrete poem.

Visual Poetry and Concrete Poetry

  1. Concrete poetry is a type of poetry where the way the words look, and the arrangement of the words is more important in expressing the meaning of the poem than the words themselves. It is sometimes referred to as visual poetry, a term which has developed into its own unique style.
  2. Open your Text Week document in Illustrator and go to the fourth (lower right) artboard.
  3. Take a look at the following examples explaining Visual and Concrete Poetry:
    1. How to Make a Visual Poem – Getty Museum
    2. Visual Poetry Festival on
    3. Let Your Kids Fail – Kinetic Poem by Aimless Disquiet on YouTube
    4. concrete poetry – Google Image Search
  4. Think about the visual poetry examples:
    1. What features do visual poems have in common?
    2. What makes visual poetry different than regular poetry?
    3. Which of the examples do you like the best? Why?
    4. What makes a visual poem good?
  5. Some of the common elements of poetry you will find in Visual and Concrete poems are:
    1. Aliteration (using the same first letter more than once in a row)
    2. Assonance (rhyming or echoing parts of a word i.e., superstition, repetition, competition)
    3. Consonance (repeating consonant sounds i.e. pitter,patter)
    4. Metaphor (comparison without “like” or “as”)
    5. Onomatopoeia (words that sound like what they describe)
    6. Parallelism (repetition of form in line structure)
    7. Personification (assigning human attributes to inanimate objects)
    8. Repetition (repeating elements)
    9. Simile (comparison using “like” or “as”)
    10. Symbolism (representing abstract ideas with concrete objects)
    11. Irony (presenting the opposite of what is expected, sometimes for humorous effect)
  6. Use the pre-set Graphic Styles libraries, the Warp tools and the Type Tool to produce your concrete poem on the fourth artboard in Illustrator.
  7. You may use any style of poetry (free verse, haiku, music lyrics, Shakespearean sonnet, etc.), but your poem must be original.
  8. Your poem should visually represent, both in the arrangement of the words and in the visual style of the words, the theme of the poem.
  9. The theme of the poem should be obvious, based on the arrangement of the words and the Appearance or Graphic Style of the words.
  10. There is no minimum or maximum length of the poem, but the poem must express a recognizable idea, and must effectively present the idea through the arrangement and graphic style of the words.
  11. Remember the Principles of Design as you lay out your page: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity – use them, as well as what we have learned about Color Theory and Symbolism to maximize the visual appeal and meaning of your poem!
  12. The completed Concrete Poem is due on Wednesday, April 3rd. We will work on the poem and look at other examples of Visual Poetry in the days between now and then.
  13. The completed Concrete Poems will be printed and displayed in the room for all to enjoy, so do your best to make this something unique and visually appealing!

Assigned: March 27th, 2019
Teacher Pacing Due Date: April 3rd, 2019