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A poster is a type of printed paper which is meant to be affixed to a wall or any other surface. Generally, posters may feature textual and graphic design elements. Some posters are completely graphic in style, while others will feature printed words (text) only. Posters are meant to attract attention, while also relating important information.

Used for marketing purposes, posters often advertise special events, musical groups or cinematic efforts. In addition, products or political parties may be touted via posters.

Certain posters will feature copies of well-known art work. Sometimes, this type of art work does not have a copyright attached to it, so it’s possible to use it without paying a royalty. The cost of commissioning new art for posters may be higher, although “indie” (independent) artists may work for a very low rate, or for free.

History of the Poster

For over two centuries, posters have been used in order to communicate ideas or information within the public milieu. The level of artistry displayed in a poster will generally dictate whether or not it captivates its target audience. The most skillful posters are very resonant forms of visual communication. Shining examples of beautiful and effective posters which were created by the world’s pre-eminent artists include Art Nouveau designs by Toulouse-Lautrec and Mucha.

Styles of posters created during past centuries included the aforementioned Art Nouveau, along with Symbolism, Cubism and Art Deco. In addition, a formalized style known as Bauhaus was popular. In the 1960s, posters were often bestowed with a psychedelic aesthetic that reflected the values and culture of the “Flower Power” generation.

The origins of the modern poster may be traced back to 1970, when color lithography was refined and then commonly used. Because posters could be mass-produced, it made it possible to use them more extensively (and economically).

Elements of Poster Mass Production

In the medieval age, William Shakespeare’s plays were advertised via placards and posted bills. In addition, government or royal proclamations were announced through this visual art form. However, it was not until the advent of the printing press that posters became a cost-effective, simple way to share information.

Printing techniques which led to a new era for posters were invented by a German named Alois Senefelder. After this invention, which was known as lithography, a more refined process, chromolithography, was created. This process permitted the production of mass amounts of posters, all of which could be printed in a prism of colors.

During the 1890s, posters became a popular method of marketing special events in European countries (Spanish bullfights are an event example). The end of the 19th century ushered in a new era known as the Belle Epoque. This era heralded the beginning of posters as high art. In particular, one well-known artist, Jules Cheret, made a series of posters, known as the Maitres de L’Affiche, which were successful in critical and popular terms.

In America, posters did not have the same level of refinement. Typically, posters produced in the United States were used for commercial purposes or to deliver specific facts in a textual format. When posters began to be used in order to promote carnivals and circuses, they took on a new depth and dimension, becoming more artistic and dazzling in terms of their overall style. However, even these posters were meant to be basic ads, rather than high art.

One example of a famous American poster which captivated the masses and became a shining example of the art form is a famous drawing of Rosie the Riveter, which featured the slogan, “We can do it!” This inspirational poster captured the brave spirit of American women during WWII and celebrated the contributions that USA women made to the war effort.

Poster Types

Posters were (and are) used to advertise products. Examples of poster types include those used to market films, music, comics and travel locations. Today, posters appear on buses, in subway stations, at airports, on billboards, and in a range of other locations. In the modern age, digital depictions of art and text may also appear. These virtual posters include banner ads at websites, and other digital artworks will closely follow the typical poster style. Since posters are visually intriguing and relate useful information, they have not grown obsolete over the course of time.