We’re thrilled to have musician Justin Vernon (better known as Bon Iver) running a tattoo design contest on our site — not just because we’re indie music geeks, but because the man has revealed an awesome design sensibility.

His brief specifications — the cross-breeding of an image from Northern Exposure with the art of Alphonse Mucha — has given us an excuse to dive into the world of Art Nouveau and its influence on modern illustration, logo, packaging, type and even web design.

Let’s take a look at this marvelously decorative style:


The Paris metro is a prime example of Art Nouveau architecture

Most prominent between about 1890 and 1910, the Art Nouveau style in architecture and graphic design was characterized by dynamic, flowing lines, plant-like tendrils and flourishes. As one writer put it at the time, “like sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip.” It was arguably the first ever international style, popular in Europe and America, bridging neoclassicism into 20th century modernism.

Czech artist Alphonse Mucha’s distinctive style of Art Nouveau placed sensuous women front and center, giving characteristic prominence to long, flowing hair.

Two iconic posters by Alphonse Mucha

The finalists in the Bon Iver tattoo design contest

The 5 finalist in Bon Iver’s tattoo contest have absolutely nailed this style. Check it out:

Design by Giulio Rossi

Designs by Cbabiano (left) and Miss_MJ (right)

Designs by Giopota (left) and ShaiyanQ07 (right)

Modern-day influence of Art Nouveau

The modern-day influence of Art Nouveau extends far beyond just the world of illustration. These irresistible logo, packaging, typography and even web designs are testimony to that:

Recognize this one? The Coca Cola logo, originally designed in 1885, was certainly a product of the Art Nouveau era

Logo design for the Martin Ring Company, by James Castle Stevens

Logo design for New Leaf, by Ray Chou


Identity design for Natasha Balabanova, by Oleksii Chernikov


We even detect a trace of Nouveau in the Starbucks logo


One contest holder from a few years back wanted a Nouveau twist on the coffee giant’s branding. This design is by namisan


Logo and product packaging for Bisalta, by Roddi Lignini


A wine bottle design with Nouveau tendrils

Label design for Sweet Victory Semillon, by Diego Ballester


Nouveau typography, in Cyrillic and Roman alphabet, by Irina Vinnik

Nouveau-inspired Paris typeface, by Moshik Nadav


Nouveau web design by Focus Lab

Seen Art Nouveau-inspired design lately? Please share.