What is Dadaism and how can it inspire your future designs?



The Dadaism art movement, or Dada, is a nonsensical art form that celebrates creativity and imagination. Satirical, humorous and boundary-breaking, this intelligent and complex school of thought influenced a generation of artists who wanted to create something that was outside of regular convention.

The Dadaism art movement could help to influence your future design projects, with its bizarre intricacies and provocative premise. Dada is still alive and well today and could be applied to your current work.

What are you waiting for? Learn more about Dadaism with Adobe Express UK and dive into this intriguing artistic style.

The origins of the movement.

Dadaism was first founded in Zürich in 1916 when Hugo Ball, a satirical night club owner, became famous for the cabaret shows that he put on. Dada itself is a word associated with hobby horses, but really is a nonsensical term altogether. The idea behind Dadaism, ie. not taking the world too seriously, came at just the right time.

The Dada movement worked as a direct contrast to the seriousness of World War I. In many ways Dadaism was a protest towards the conflict, pointing out the absurdity of war, through its own equally bizarre artwork. Dadaism was a powerful tool that swept across European countries like Germany and Switzerland.

Key characteristics.

Like any art form, Dadaism can be characterised by a few traits that allow it to be more recognisable to its audience.


In such dark and turbulent times, artwork can lift spirits. In this case, Dadaism used humour and absurd imagery to lighten the mood, making its audience laugh with utter nonsense. Weird portraits, funny captions and impossible ideas found a natural home in Dada art.


The very idea behind Dadaism art is to contrast the serious with the unserious and so throughout the movement there are clear examples of massive paradoxes. Clashing shapes and colours, and concepts that don’t match together all form the basis of Dada’s approach to contrast in art.


While other art forms might rely on logical compositions that are structured in reality, much like abstract art Dadaism instead relied upon the irrational. Nothing looked quite as it did in the real world, with depictions of objects or people that made no sense and could not be compared to the genuine article.

Strong Themes

Dada in its purest form is a protest movement, and so many examples of Dadaism art hold strong messages showing the absurdness of war and the ridiculousness of the political climate.

Editable templates for your Dadaism-inspired projects.

How to implement it in Adobe Express?

Taking the lessons of Dadaism and applying them to your own projects can be challenging, but here’s a few ways you can take Dada art into your designs.

Find humour in your logos

Logos are created to help build your brand, but is there a way for them to entertain too? Team up your logo with your brand name and find a way to make your target audience laugh with Adobe Express UK’s logo templates. You'll make a lasting impact with a memorable visual gag.

Look for contrast in your business cards

Business cards can be boring and simple. But clashing imagery will ensure that the eye is drawn to the areas that matter most. Use the Dadaism principles of contrast with Adobe Express’ free to use business card templates, to create something louder and bolder.

Bring the irrational to your memes

Dadaism thrives on being irrational, by placing together strange images or promoting absurd ideas. Memes have to make such a visual impact so quickly, that those irrational principles could be ideal for the art form. Look to Dadaism for some irrational inspiration and apply those lessons to Adobe Express UK’s Meme templates. Use Adobe Express easy to access remove background feature, to take away the context of an image for more irrational play.

Build a theme with your collage

A collage can get messy and feel unfocused. Much like Dadaism, concentrate on a specific theme, whether it’s nature, science fiction, or perhaps education, to create a collage that carries a strong message and promotes your identity as an individual or brand. Tap into Adobe Express’ free collage templates to experiment.

Build your own Dadaism designs with templates from Adobe Express.

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Examples of previous work.


Created by Marcel Duchamp in 1917, Fountain was a sculpture depicting an unusual shaped toilet bowl that had been suggested as a water fountain to be drunk from. This bizarre idea plays to the themes of contrasts, and is humorous in its appeal.


Designed by Marcel Duchamp in 1919, L.H.O.O.Q. depicts the Mona Lisa with a moustache and beard that had been pencilled on in a funny, child-like way. Breaking down the conventions of art, the piece is shocking in its mistreatment of one of the most famous pieces in the world.

Indestructible Object

Man Ray’s 1923 work, Object To Be Destroyed or Indestructible Object is an unusual sculpture that takes on the form of a metronome, albeit with a few additional features. This concept has taken many forms, as students had actually destroyed the original work, making it an interactive example of Dadaism.

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Useful things to know.

Is Dadaism purely sculptural?

No. Although there are plenty of examples of Dadaism in physical form, as a popular interpretation of the movement, there are still many paintings and other 2D projects that promote the same ideas.

Who are some famous Dada artists?

Francis Picabia, Max Ernst, Hannah Höch and Tristan Tzara are some of the other names that made an impact in this field.

Is Dada art still relevant today?

Dada has continued to live on throughout satirical art works today. Although those comedy sketches often seen in newspapers take some inspiration from the Dadaism movement, more influences can be found in recent sculptures.

Is Adobe Express UK free to use?

Of course! Adobe Express UK is accessible, easy to pick up, and free to use.