Kruger is less thorough in her embrace of advertising techniques than the Guerrilla Girls, but no less forceful in her feminist and anti-capitalist critiques. Once a graphic designer at Condé Nast, she is well-versed in the visual language of print advertising. Her short messages (“I shop therefore I am”; “We don’t need another hero”) suit the slickness of Futura Bold Oblique, and can initially be mistaken for cheeky ad copy. Her signature visual style, adopted in the early 1980s, situates white text inside a red box overlaying close-cropped, black-and-white photographs of women. By borrowing the visual tropes of advertising, then subverting them, Kruger draws our attention to both the tools and the underlying messages of consumerism.
“Kruger’s use of language is sharp and astute, but what if she’d used Times New Roman or Comic Sans instead?” says Thomas. “Her work would still be witty, but it wouldn’t have that same punch. It wouldn’t immediately tie back to the original advertisements by using the typeface of so many mass consumer brands. By using Futura, she makes that connection clearer and the criticism all the more pointed.”
In the end, it seems that Kruger was right to ignore that design-school maxim: “Never use Futura.”