A poster is any piece of printed paper designed to be attached to a wall or vertical surface. Typically posters include both textual and graphic 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, protestors and other groups trying to communicate a message. Posters are also used for reproductions of artwork, particularly famous works.. Another type of poster are educational posters, which may be about a particular subject for educational purposes. Related to these are academic or conference are generally low-cost compared to original artwork. 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.

Poster history

;IntroductionAccording to poster 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." Gallo, Max, "The Poster in History", (2002) W.W. Norton] The modern poster, as we know it, however, dates back to 1870 when the printing industry perfected color lithography and made mass production possible.

"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 and Mucha to theatrical and commercial designers."Barnicoat, John, "Posters: A Concise History", (1985) Thames and Hudson] They have ranged in styles from Art Nouveau, Symbolism, Cubism, and Art Deco to the more formal Bauhaus and the often incoherent hippie posters of the 1960s.

;Mass productionPosters, 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 and made 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. The invention of lithography was soon followed by chromolithography, which allowed for mass editions of posters illustrated in vibrant colors to be printed.

;Developing art formBy the 1890s, the technique had spread throughout Europe. A number of noted artists created poster art in this period, foremost amongst them Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Jules Chéret. 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.

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.

;Commercial usesBy 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 (Masters of 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 commentary.

In the United States, posters did not evolve to the same artistic level. 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 merit and have become extremely collectible. These include the posters advertising World's Fairs and Colonial Exhibitions.

;Political usesOther times of great turmoil also produced great posters. The 1960s saw the rise of pop art and protest movements throughout the West; both made great use of posters. Perhaps the most acclaimed posters were those produced by French students during the so-called "événements" of May 1968.

Poster printing

Many printing 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 software to print large posters on standard home or office printers.

Types of posters

Propaganda and political posters

During the 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. Posters 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!". The Soviet Union also produced a plethora of propaganda posters [] , some of which became iconic representations of the Great Patriotic War.During the democratic revolutions of 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe the poster was very important weapon in the hand of the opposition. Brave 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.

Advertising posters

Many posters, particularly early posters, were used for advertising products. Posters continue to be used for this purpose, with posters advertising films, music (both concerts and recorded albums), comic books, and travel destinations being particularly notable examples.

Film posters

The film 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.fact|date=May 2008

Comic book posters

The resurgence of comic book popularity 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.

Event posters

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.

Boxing posters

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.

Concert posters

Many concerts, particularly rock concerts, have custom-designed posters that are used for advertisement of the event. These often become collectors items as well.

Educational posters

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.

Classroom posters

Most classrooms in North American schools have posters on the walls. There are several types of these posters:
* 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 matter.
* Quick reference posters: In elementary schools, these usually include first-language vocabulary charts (numbers, colours, 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, etc.

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

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 framed.

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

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 Betty Grable 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 is to 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).

Affirmation posters

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 past.

Band/Music posters

Posters that showcase a person's favorite artist or music group are popular in teenager's bedrooms, as well as in college dorm rooms and apartments. Many posters have pictures of popular rock bands and artists.

Notable poster artists

* Albert Guillaume (1873-1942)
* Alfons Mucha (1860-1939)
* Achille Mauzan (1883-1952)
* Adolphe Mouron Cassandre (1901-1968)
* David Lance Goines (1945-present)
* Eugène Grasset (1845-1917)
* Firmin Bouisset (1859-1925)
* Gino Boccasile (1901-1952)
* Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
* Jean Carlu (1900-1997)
* John Gilroy (1898-1985)
* Jules Chéret (1836-1932)
* Leonetto Cappiello (1875-1942)
* Paul Colin (1892-1985)
* Privat Livemont (1861-1936)
* Raymond Savignac (1907-2002)
* Róbert Berény (1887-1954)
* Sándor Bortnyik (1893-1976)
* Tadeusz Gronowski (1894-1990) ()
* Théophile Steinlen (1859-1923)
* Tom Eckersley (1914-1995)

Contemporary poster artists

* André François
* Beautiful Angle
* David Tartakover
* Dóra Keresztes
* Echo Chernik
* István Orosz
* Jan Sawka
* Michael Byrne
* Milton Glaser
* Paul Ford
* Rafal Olbinski
* Seymour Chwast
* Shepard Fairey
* Shigeo Fukuda
* Stanley Mouse
* Wang Xu
* Wieslaw Rosocha
* Wiktor Sadowski


Gallery See Also

* A 1990 Hungarian political poster by " (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'

See also

* four poster (Archaeology)
* graphic design
* Illustrations
* mediascape
* Street Poster Art


Further reading

* 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 2-88046-561-3.
* Timmers, Margaret. (2003). "Power of the Poster." Victoria and Albert Museum. ISBN 0-8109-6615-8.

External links

* [ Poster Archive of the MAK-Austrian Museum of applied arts / contemporary art]
* [ Posters, American Style] (exhibition and educational site from the Smithsonian American Art Museum)
* [ Rene Wanner's Poster Page]
* [ The International Poster Collection] (exhibition galleries from the Colorado State Libraries and the Department of Art)
* [ Visual Arts Data Service (VADS)] Over 100,000 images available free for use in education, including thousands of posters from the UK's Imperial War Museum and the Design Council collections.
* cite web |publisher= Victoria and Albert Museum
title= Exposition Posters: Dreaming of the Future
work=Prints & Books
accessdate= 2007-08-27

* [ Chinese Cultural Revolution Propaganda Poster]
* [ Les Purs Canayens: Canadian Posters of the First World War - Canadian War Museum]
* [ Powers of Persuasion: Poster Art from World War II]
* [ The Chairman Smiles: Posters from the former Soviet Union, Cuba and China]
* [ University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections - War Posters] A selection of World War I and II posters; topics include propaganda on purchasing war bonds, the importance of national security and posters from allied and axis powers.
* [ WWI and WWII Poster Collection] hosted by the [ University of North Texas Libraries' Digital Collections] . Search and browse through almost 500 posters.

* [ Creating Effective Poster Presentations (for research posters)]

* [ Collection of Puerto Rican art posters]
* [ Far and Wide: The Golden Age of Travel Posters] (from the Los Angeles Public Library)
* [ Polish Film Posters Database]
* [ Polish Poster at Polish Poster Gallery]
* [ The European Library] Portal giving access to thousand of digitised posters.

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