November '20

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 0 N O V E M B E R G R A P H I C S P R O 4 7 POSTER DESIGN Everyone has made posters. It is likely your life has included the creation of hand-made posters for school plays, sporting events, and garage sales—per- haps even the poignant "lost dog" flyer or two. And if you work in the graphics industry, you've certainly designed your share. The humble announcement or placard is often considered to be an ephemeral, temporary thing, but it has commanded an essential place in the evolution and progress of the visual arts across every culture and throughout modern history. Posters became essential advertising me- dia in the last years of the 19th century, when the sophistication of lithography made dramatic effects in color printing possible. Leading painters and printmak- ers turned to poster design, and advertis- ers competed to commission their servic- es. Posters became such a sensation that fans and collectors often bought copies before they could be pasted up. During our week in the Blue Ridge mountains, Randall and I acquainted our students with many of the styles and "schools" of poster design. There are doz- ens of these, but we concentrated upon several of the well-known ones, includ- ing German Plakatstil (literally: "poster style"), Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, and Streamline. Our PowerPoint lectures were short on esoterica, but long on en- thusiasm, because the guiding principle in poster design is, first and foremost, impact. The function of the poster is brutally plain: to tell a story in an instant. Saul Bass, perhaps America's greatest mid-cen- tury graphic designer, maintained that successful poster design lies in the artist's ability to "symbolize and summarize." In order to be effective, the message must

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