is any piece of printed paper
designed to be attached to a wall or vertical
surface. Typically posters include both textual
elements, although a poster may be either wholly graphical or
wholly textual. Posters are designed to be both eye-catching and
convey information. Posters may be used for many purposes, and they
are a frequent tool of advertisers
(particularly of events, musicians and films), propagandists
and other groups trying to communicate a message. Posters are also
used for reproductions of artwork
famous works, and are generally low-cost compared to original
artwork. Another type of poster are educational posters, which may
be about a particular subject for educational purposes. Many people
also collect posters, and some famous posters have themselves
become quite valuable, collectors and vintage posters are usually
framed and matted. Posters may be any size.
According to French historian Max Gallo
"for over two hundred years, posters have been displayed in public
places all over the world. Visually striking, they have been
designed to attract the attention of passers-by, making us aware of
a political viewpoint, enticing us to attend specific events, or
encouraging us to purchase a particular product or service." The
modern poster, as we know it, however, dates back to 1870 when the
industry perfected color lithography
and made mass production
"In little more than a hundred years," writes poster expert John
Barnicoat, "it has come to be recognized as a vital art form,
attracting artists at every level, from painters like Toulouse-Lautrec
to theatrical and commercial designers." They
have ranged in styles from Art Nouveau
and Art Deco
to the more formal Bauhaus
and the often incoherent hippie
posters of the 1960s.
Posters, in the form of placards and posted bills, have been used
since earliest times, primarily for advertising and announcements.
Purely textual posters have a long history: they advertised the
plays of Shakespeare
citizens aware of government proclamations for centuries. However,
the great revolution in posters was the development of printing
techniques that allowed for cheap mass production and printing,
including notably the technique lithography
which was invented in 1796 by the
German Alois Senefelder
invention of lithography was soon followed by chromolithography
, which allowed for mass
editions of posters illustrated in vibrant colors to be
Developing art form
By the 1890s, the technique had spread throughout Europe. A number
of noted artists created poster art
this period, foremost amongst them Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
. Chéret is considered
to be the "father" of advertisement placards. He was a pencil
artist and a scene decorator, who founded a small lithography
office in Paris in 1866. He used striking characters, contrast and
bright colors, and created over 1000 advertisements, primarily for
exhibitions, theatres, and products. The industry soon attracted
the service of many aspiring painters who needed a source of
revenue to support themselves.
developed a new lithographic
technique that suited better the
needs of advertisers: he added a lot more colour which, in
conjunction with innovative typography
rendered the poster much more expressive. Not surprisingly, Chéret
is said to have introduced sex in advertising or, at least, to have
exploited the feminine image as an advertising ploy. In contrast
with those previously painted by Toulouse-Lautrec
, Chéret’s laughing and
provocative feminine figures meant a new conception of art as being
of service to advertising.
Posters soon transformed the thoroughfares of Paris into the "art
galleries of the street." Their commercial success was such that
some of the artists were in great demand and theatre stars
personally selected their own favorite artist to do the poster for
an upcoming performance. The popularity of poster art was such that
in 1884 a major exhibition was held in Paris.
By the 1890s, poster art had widespread usage in other parts of
Europe, advertising everything from bicycles to bullfights. By the
end of the 19th century, during an era known as the Belle Époque
, the standing of the poster
as a serious artform was raised even further. Between 1895 and
1900, Jules Chéret created the Maîtres de l'Affiche
the Poster) series that became not only a commercial success, but
is now seen as an important historical publication. Alphonse Mucha
and Eugène Grasset
were also influential
poster designers of this generation, known for their Art Nouveau
style and stylized figures,
particularly of women. Advertisement posters became a special type
of graphic art in the modern age. Poster artists such as Théophile Steinlen
, Albert Guillaume
, Leonetto Cappiello
and others became
important figures of their day, their art form transferred to
magazines for advertising as well as for social and political
States, posters did not evolve to the same artistic
American posters were primarily directed towards
basic commercial needs to deliver a written message. However, the
advent of the travelling circus brought colorful posters to tell
citizens that a carnival was coming to town. But these too were
very commercially utilitarian, of average quality, and few saw any
real artistic creativity.
Many posters have had great artistic
and have become extremely collectible. These include the
posters advertising World's Fairs
Other times of great turmoil also produced great posters. The 1960s
saw the rise of pop art
movements throughout the West; both made great use of posters.
the most acclaimed posters were those produced by French students
during the so-called "événements" of May
techniques are used to
produce posters. While most posters are mass-produced, posters may
also be printed by hand or in limited editions. Most posters are
printed on one side and left blank on the back, the better for
affixing to a wall or other surface. Pin-up sized posters are
usually printed on A3 Standard Silk paper in full colour.
It is possible to use poster creation
to print large posters on standard home or office
Types of posters
Lord Kitchener recruiting poster, for the British army during World
Propaganda and political posters
First and Second World Wars, recruiting posters
became extremely common, and many of them have persisted in the
national consciousness, such as the "Lord Kitchener Wants You" posters
from the United
Kingdom, the "Uncle Sam wants you"
posters from the United States, or the "Loose Lips Sink Ships" posters that warned of foreign spies.
during wartime were also used for propaganda purposes, persuasion,
and motivation, such as the famous Rosie the Riveter
posters which exhorted
women workers during World War II that "We can do it!".
Union also produced a plethora of propaganda
posters, some of which became iconic representations
of the Great Patriotic
During the democratic revolutions of 1989
in Central and Eastern Europe
poster was very important weapon in the hand of the opposition.
printed and hand-made political posters appeared on the Berlin Wall, on the statue of St. Wenseslas in Prague and around
the unmarked grave of Imre Nagy in
Budapest and the role
of them was indispensable for the democratic change.
recent example of an influential political poster is Shepard Fairey
's Barack Obama "HOPE" poster
Advertising with posters can be a
"poor mans advertising media" and sometimes, it seems any surface
Many posters, particularly early posters, were used for advertising
products. Posters continue to be used for this purpose, with
posters advertising films
(both concerts and recorded albums), comic books
, and travel
destinations being particularly notable examples.
industry quickly discovered that
vibrantly coloured posters were an easy way to sell their pictures.
Today, posters are produced for most major films, and the
collecting of movie posters has become a major hobby. The most
valuable poster in the world, of which there is only 1 known copy,
is the 1931 stone litho Frankenstein 6-sheet.
Comic book posters
The resurgence of comic book
in the 1960s led to the mass production of comic book posters in
the 1970s and onward. These posters typically feature popular
characters in a variety of action poses. The fact that comic books
are a niche market means that a given poster usually has a smaller
printing run than other genres of poster. Therefore, older posters
may be quite sought after by collectors. Promotional posters are
usually distributed folded, whereas retail posters intended for
home decoration are rolled.
In the early days of steam railways in Britain, the various rail
companies advertised their routes and services on simple printed
sheets. By the 1850’s, with increasing competition and improvements
in printing technology, pictorial designs were being incorporated
in their advertising posters. The use of graphic artists began to
influence the design of the pictorial poster. In 1905, the London and North Western
(LNWR) commissioned Norman Wilkinson
artwork for a new landscape poster, advertising their rail/steam
packet link to Ireland. In 1908, for the Great Northern
produced the famous image of the 'Jolly Fisherman' with
the ‘Skegness is so Bracing’ slogan. The development of this
commercial art form throughout the first half of the 20th century
reflected the changes in British society, along with the changing
styles of art, architecture and fashion as well as changing
patterns of holidaymaking. 
A modern event poster.
Posters advertising events have become common. Any sort of public
event, from a rally to a play, may be advertised with posters; a
few types of events have become notable for their poster
advertisements.Posters are common because this can be hung around
places where people go.
Boxing Posters were used in and around the actual venue to
advertise the forthcoming fight, date, ticket prices, and usually
consisted of pictures of each boxer. Boxing Posters vary in size
and vibrancy, but are not usually smaller than 18x22 inches. In the
early days few boxing posters survived the actual event and thus
they are indeed very collectible and scarce.
, particularly rock concerts
, have custom-designed posters
that are used for advertisement of the event. These often become
collectors items as well.
Research posters and "poster sessions"
Posters are used in academia to promote and explain research work.
They are typically shown during conferences, either as a complement
to a talk or scientific paper, or as a publication. They are of
lesser importance than actual articles, but they can be a good
introduction to a new piece of research before the paper is
published. Poster presentations are often not peer-reviewed
, but can instead be submitted,
meaning that as many as can fit will be accepted.
in North American schools
have posters on the walls. There are several types of these
- Advertising posters for products
used or discussed in the class (e.g. movie
posters in a film class).
- Books on poster, in which entire
works of literature are legibly printed onto single posters.
- Motivational posters,
similar to those found in offices or specific to the class subject
- Quick reference posters: In elementary schools, these usually include
first-language vocabulary charts
weather, etc.) and multiplication tables. In secondary and post-secondary schools, they are more likely
to include second-language vocabulary charts, the standard periodic
table and related graphs, and laboratory safety protocols. A world map and one or more regional maps are common at all levels.
- Posters giving more detailed information on a subject, usually
containing paragraph-form text, in
relatively small print.
- Pseudo-advertising posters for sports,
works of classic literature,
The latter two types are sometimes prepared by students as part of
an assignment, but most posters are usually store-bought.
Vintage Poster Restoration/Conservation
Poster restoration and conservation.The backing of posters with
fabric dates back to 19th century France, where posters were
occasionally glued to linen for reinforcement. This provided some
protection, but with the passage of time the paper continued to
become brittle and was frequently torn by stress. Modern backing
techniques have eliminated this problem by using an acid free paper
between the poster and the fabric. The adhesive used is wheat paste
treated to inhibit mold growth.
Why fabric-back a poster? The principal reason is to provide
support for the paper.It also enables the conservator to flatten
the folds and to more easily make repairs. Fabric backing also
eliminates the waviness that can occur when the poster is
Reversibility is a concept that is important in all conservation
work, because today's curators and collectors are only temporary
custodians of a cultural object (the poster) that will have
continuing and timeless interest for future collectors. We strive
to make certain that materials and techniques that are applied to
the poster are not harmful over time and are reversible to bring it
back to the state in which we found it.
Restoration can dramatically improve the appearance of a poster.
Damage caused by clear adhesive tape, residual stains, water marks
and dirt can be easily repaired; combining this with the
replacement of lost paper can bring the poster back to virtually
its original state.
Cheesecake posters, or "pinups," are pictures of attractive women
designed to be displayed, first coming to popularity in the 1920s.
The popularity of sexy Pin-up girl
posters has been erratic in recent decades. Pin-ups such as
and Jane Russell
were highly popular with soldiers
during World War II
but much less so
during the Vietnam War
. The late 1970s
and into the beginning of the 1980s were boom years for large
posters of television actresses, especially Farrah Fawcett
and Cheryl Tiegs
The goal of creating a Fanposter
show all or a large portion of devoted fans on one poster which
will be presented and can be seen in a place where many other fans
or members have access (hallway of a club house, fanzine
, fan webpage, public place).
An example of an affirmation poster.
This refers to decorative posters that are meant to be motivational
and inspirational. One popular series has a black background, a
scene from nature, and a word such as "Leadership" or
"Opportunity." Another version (usually framed
and matted) uses a two-image hologram
which changes as the viewer walks
Posters that showcase a person's favorite artist or music group are
popular in teenagers
' bedrooms, as well as
in college dorm
. Many posters
have pictures of popular rock bands
Notable poster artists
Contemporary poster artists
Image:Cheret-Vin-Mariani-.jpg|Vin Mariani, Jules Cheret's 1894
poster for the digestif and tonic wine fortified by
cocaImage:Affiche 1905.jpg|Official poster for
the Exposition Universelle of 1905 in Liège
Image:Brigade of Midshipmen ·
DN-SD-07-27810.JPEG|A sports poster for the Navy Midshipmen American football
team.Image:S17.jpeg|Poster from the Spanish Revolution
3.jpg|A digital poster illustrating twelve different species of
flowersImage:Ww2 poster oct0404.jpg|A WWII propaganda poster with
the text "Let's catch him with his Panzers down!"Image:Nijinsky -
Poster.jpg |Poster for the 1911 Ballet
seasonImage:Wanted poster.jpg|Jack the Ripper
wanted poster issued by the
police in 1888
Gallery See Also
- A 1990 Hungarian political poster by Fidesz (Alliance of Young Democrats): Choose! (between Communism
represented by the Communist politicians kissing in the upper
image, and capitalism represented by the young couple kissing in
the lower picture.)
- The Tennis Girl poster was an iconic
image from the late 1970s'
- Gosling, Peter. (1999). Scientist's Guide to Poster
Presentations. New York: Kluwer. ISBN 0-306-46076-9.
- King, Emily. (2003). A Century of Movie Posters: From
Silent to Art House. Barron's. ISBN 0-7641-5599-7.
- Noble, Ian. (2002). Up Against the Wall: International
Poster Design. Mies, Switzerland: RotoVision. ISBN
- Timmers, Margaret. (2003). Power of the Poster.
Victoria and Albert Museum. ISBN 0-8109-6615-8.
- Le Coultre, Martijn F. & Purvis, Alston W, (2002)A
Century of Posters, Lund Humphries ISBN 0-85331-863-8
- Rennert, Jack, (1990), Posters of the Belle Epoque,
Wine Spectator Press, ISBN 0-9664202-1-7
- Wrede, Stuart, (1988), The Modern Poster, Little Brown
and Company, ISBN 0-87070-570-9
- Gold, Laura (1988), Posters, Please ISBN
- Cole, Beverley and Durack, Richard (1992), Railway Posters
1923-1947, Laurence King, ISBN 1-85669-014-8