“What’s between your legs, baby?” is a project by New York-based graphic designer Mirko Ilic. He showed it as a lighthearted intro to his talk at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town last week.
Frequenters of video stores will recognise the through-the-legs shot as a favourite poster motif of straight-to-video teen comedies. But Ilic’s slide show revealed just how pervasive a design idiom this is – so much so that we don’t even notice it anymore. Tracing it back to pulp fiction paperback covers from the 1950s, he dredged up examples of cover art for albums, magazines and comics, as well as film posters of almost every genre (although it was particularly popular with the producers of the Bond movies). Generally used to denote either sex or power, the legs frame is still unflaggingly popular. The trick from now on is to separate the thoughtless cliches from the ironic homages.