For Noma Bar, less is most definitely more.

The acclaimed graphic artist has made his mark in the design world through a minimalist approach to visual communication that uses negative space, color, shape and iconography to create more-than-meets-the-eye images that demand a second. He applied his signature style to a limited-edition series of Coca-Cola Mini Cans featuring original interpretations of six Marvel Super Heroes: The Incredible Hulk, Ant-Man, Black Widow, Captain America, Iron Man and Falcon.

“Coke didn’t ask me to do a series of straightforward illustrations,” Bar said via phone from his London studio. “Together, we saw an opportunity to tell an imaginative story while staying loyal to each character.”

Bar first sketched out ideas on paper before moving to his computer. The challenge was to create an expression of each icon with a stripped-down, Coke-inspired color pallet. He used shadings of red, white and silver to add dimension and introduce a degree of mystery, and to capture the essence of his subjects, some of which are defined by other primary colors – such as Hulk (green) and Captain America (blue).

Marvel Mini Can Draft

Bar's early sketches of the six Marvel Super Heroes.

“Take a close look at Noma’s work and you’ll see something you were not expecting,” said James Sommerville, VP of Global Design, Coca-Cola. “We wanted to create portrait artwork that was so compelling it could be a poster as well as a mini can design. Instead of simply illustrating portraits, he illustrates the physical personality of each character and what they are famous for.”

Sommerville said the project is part of Coca-Cola Design’s new direct-to-talent approach of partnering with some of the world’s foremost creatives. “Noma is a perfect fit for Coca-Cola, he said. “He executes his concepts with a clever wit and possesses an unrivaled ability to simplify everything.”

Single Marvel Mini Can

Developed with collectors in mind, Bar set out to do much more than recreate the familiar Marvel superhero images we’re used to seeing in comic books and on screen. “When they discover these unique elements, they’ll feel like they own them,” he said.

The metallic properties of the aluminum mini cans enhance Bar’s individual designs and bring a seamless look to the six-pack collection, said Frederic Kahn, Coca-Cola design director.

“By using predominant Coke Red with a darker red, raw silver aluminum, frosted aluminum and opaque white, we were able to integrate these iconic characters and their stories in uniquely Coca-Cola way,” he said.

Fans hoping to get their hands on one of the 30,000 limited-edition six-packs should act fast. The Marvel-inspired Coca-Cola Mini Cans are not for sale in stores, but clues on where to find them are hidden in six “Easter Egg” clues in Coke’s Big Game ad featuring Hulk and Ant-Man. Watch it here.

“At Coca-Cola, we’re at our best when we’re storytellers,” Kahn concluded. “And that’s what Noma does so amazingly well. This project is the perfect marriage between our TV spot, which told a Coca-Cola story on an epic scale with help from Marvel, and these cans, which invite fans to discover an even deeper story.”

Noma Bar

Illustrator Noma Bar works inside his London studio.

‘My disadvantage became my advantage’

Born in Israel, Bar moved to London 15 years ago to study typography in his native language of Hebrew. He spoke very little English, so he used iconography and pictograms to tell stories without words.

“It became my own sign language,” he said. “I started looking at hand gestures and developed an artistic style similar to visual pantomiming. I expressed myself using images and what happens between the hands and fingers. It all came from not being able to speak English… my disadvantage became my advantage.”

Bar’s use of negative space became his hallmark and is frequently used to simplify complex issues and weighty editorial themes. His work, which has been published in The New York Times and Esquire and won several prominent design awards, is fortified with hidden meaning and, often, humor. He describes his craft as “not quite illustration and not exactly fine art or graphic design.”

“I’m drawn to interesting projects,” Bar said. “I’m after maximum communication with minimum elements.”