Poster Art

Poster Art


The world of arts is full of ways and means to communicate ideas depending upon the requirement. When the requirement is to communicate an idea, product or event among the general public, then the use of poster art is a very good idea.  

What is Poster Art?  

Poster art is an art form, which generally describes a form of 2-dimensional printed artwork, which is affixed to a vertical surface, typically a wall. The poster art is best utilized to convey information about an idea, product, or event in public places through mass communication. Typically, a poster includes both text and visual elements, though not necessarily.   

Since the posters are used in public places, these must be eye-catching. That’s why most posters are a combination of a powerful visual with some text. Though sometimes a poster may be purely textual (for example works of calligraphy) or graphical. This is done to create a surprise element.  

What is poster art used for?  

The poster art is used as a medium, where we want to create visual appeal along with giving some information. That is, posters are very commonly used as an advertising tool for communicating details about upcoming movies, music concerts, and other kinds of events. These posters are also used in political circles for communicating propaganda, protest or any other message.  

These posters are also used as a low-cost medium for reproductions of famous artwork.  

History of Poster Art:  

The posters have been in existence for a very long time. Initially, these posters were used for advertising and communicating government declarations. Initially, these posters were made manually and then text by written by some calligraphic artist.   

The poster art got a big boost in 1796 by the invention of lithographic printing Alois Senefelder. However, it took another 70 years, before the first colour lithographic posters were produced in Paris by Jules Cheret. In this colour poster, Cheret added more colours along with innovative typography. This made the poster much more expressive and was liked a lot by the advertisers. This was the birth of the modern poster, which made the mass production possible.   

The Journey of Poster Art:  

The development and evolution of poster art closely linked to innovations and advancements in printing technology, especially Lithography and Offset Lithography, which in turn have been strongly influenced by photographic and software techniques.   

Throughout the 19th and 20th century, poster art evolved a great deal. During this time the posters were mainly used to communicate political messages, the release of new movies, and events like music concerts and sports matches.   

In India also, the poster art evolved a lot during the early part of the 20th century, especially during the period from the 1920s to the 1990s. However, in the digital era posters are becoming a dying art. Indian poster artists include Saurabh Taurakhia, Narendra Shankar Dewoodalkar, JB Khanna and Co. etc.  

Types of Poster Art:

Apart from the artists, poster art is used by art publishers, cultural organizers, political and social groups, and Advertising Agencies among others. Depending upon is usage, poster art may be divided into the following types:   

  1. Fine Art Posters   
  2. Reproductions of Famous Paintings  
  3. Political Posters.  
  4. Fine Art Posters   

The French printmaker Jules Cheret (1836-1932) was the first artist to make his fine art career in the medium of poster advertising. These posters were used purely to sell products and theatrical entertainment and then developed into a popular art form. This advertising art became so popular with fine art collectors that a huge market sprang up for vintage posters.  

Reproductions of Famous Paintings  

Post 1960, the advancements in offset lithography, coupled with the increased sophistication of both photographic and computerized printing techniques, a new market emerged for the replication of famous painters and graphic designs.   

Since then, the catalogue of art posters has grown to include masterpieces by all great artists. These poster publishers also produce reproductions of works by a wide variety of modern and contemporary famous painters.  

Political Posters  

Political propagandists resorted to using poster art across the globe throughout the first four decades of the 20th century. In America, the best example of the use of poster for propaganda was James Montgomery Flagg's famous 1917 army recruitment poster (with the caption, We Want You) which portrayed Uncle Sam pointing directly at the viewer. A similar approach was used in 1914 by Alfred Leete in Britain, when he portrayed the picture of Lord Kitchener pointing at the viewer, with the caption "Your Country Needs You"; and again, in Germany by Lucien Berhardt's poster proclamation about War Bonds.   

The decline of Poster Art:  

The poster art has seen a decline since the 1940s, mainly due to the advent of digital photography, which has made it cheaper and faster. An exception to this trend is the psychedelic rock poster, pioneered by Wes Wilson. The music poster movement expanded into marketing and merchandising with free album-posters, as well as promotional concert posters. Demand for this type of fine art echoed the earlier demand for vintage posters during the late 19th century.