Analysis of Design and Color-Totem

Description: The purpose of this reverse engineer post is to analyze the use of repetition, color, contrast, proximity, and alignment in this advertisement from the Cirque Du Soleil show Totem.

Date: January 2018



The subject featured is Eric Hernandez, a young hoop dancer from LA.

Totem was directed by Robert Lepage, a Québécois playwright, stage director, and film director.

The founder and creative guide of Totem, Guy Laliberté,  is also the Co-founder of Cirque Du Soleil alongside Gilles Ste-Croix, the artistic guide for Totem.

The advertisement can also be found here.


Repetition is used in three places. First, the symbol in the title Totem is repeated with the focus subject. Second, the detail below “Cirque Du Soleil” is repeated below “The fascinating journey into the evolution of mankind.” Third, the rings used by the subject are repeated three times.


Color is used freely, but skillfully in this design. Cirque Du Soleil has a reputation for bold, colorful performances and this meets that standard. The use of a cool background brings the warm hues of yellow and orange forward in a way that makes the subject practically leap into view.


Contrast is used to clearly highlight the information in this design. The most important piece, the title, is against the darkest background, and the information that follows is placed on a lighter colors but still maintains strong contrast. Contrast was also used to pull the viewer’s eye to the subject. His face, in particular, is partially covered in white paint with two black lines dividing it from the rest of his face. This strong use of contrast creates a very personal connection to the subject as you stare at his face. Other uses of contrast can be found surrounding the subjects midsection and arms to further highlight the subject.


Proximity is used to group all of the text in this design together and in order of importance. The title is closed to the organization who performs the show and a brief description is found underneath outlined in two details. Also with the text being close to the subject, it can be assumed he plays a key role in the show.


Alignment is used incredibly well here. All of the text is all well-aligned with each other and also aligned with the main focus of the subject. In addition, there is a strong diagonal line crossing through the advertisement which is created by the arms of the subject. This line pulls your eyes into the text and creates a sense of balance throughout the poster.



Overall I find this design to use a strong sense of alignment, color, and contrast. The use of alignment to draw your eyes to what is most important is well executed. The use of a cool color background and warm colors surrounding the subject bring him to life. And the use of contrast gives importance and meaning to the text and subject. Proximity and repetition were perhaps underutilized, but there was very little subject matter to work with concerning those two principles.

This poster has the look and feel that often accompanies anything produced by Cirque Du Soleil. It’s vibrant, energetic, and direct. Above all, it most certainly makes me want to see what Totem has to offer.