Posters are so commonplace that you might think that you know everything there is to know about it. Perhaps you don't. A poster is normally printed on paper, but it can also be printed on any other smooth material. It can contain text and graphics, but it often only contains text, or solely graphics. You know the old adage 'A picture is worth a thousand words'.

The design of a poster is planned in such a way that it should immediately draw attention to its message. Posters are used for a wide variety of purposes, which include the advertising of musical events, movie releases, protest rallies, political gatherings and very often just products or services.

Frequently posters are also used to make copies of well-known works of art - it's a very cheap way to do this. Educational posters, e. G. To inform people about the dangers of HIV or cholera, are other well-known uses of posters.

The collection of posters have become a hobby for any people. Posters from a certain era, like Che Guevara posters dating back to the '60s, or anti-communism posters of the '80s, now form part of world culture. They are much more than just advertisements - they are a reminder of the political and economic issues of our time.

Normally posters are as big and as bright as possible. Their purpose is after all to attract attention. And if you want to draw people to the first meeting of your new political party, there is one sure way to make people notice you, and that's with a range of large, colorful posters attached to lamp posts all over town.

The history and background of posters

French historians report that posters have been exhibited in public place all around the world since as far back as the early 1800s. And even the very first posters already displayed understanding of the principles of a good poster: it has to draw attention to its message, therefore the bigger and flashier the better. Even in those early days people used posters to convey political views, to let other people know about events that were upcoming and to tempt potential customers to purchase merchandise and services. Even then governments already used posters to publicize new laws, announce curfews and issue health warnings.

The era of our modern poster began in earnest, however, during the 1870s when color photography was invented, and new techniques were developed enabling people to mass produce posters. Text posters go back much further than graphic posters, since the technology is much older. It took the invention of color photography, and lithography, to really let graphic posters take up their rightful place. After than posters in full color could suddenly be mass-produced, which had a profound effect on the whole poster industry.

After the invention of these techniques to make the mass production of graphic posters possible, the gene also started gaining acceptance as a serious art form - soon it attracted artists, painters and commercial artists from all over. They used many styles to design their posters - including symbolism and 'art nouveau'. Few people will ever forget the psychedelic hippie posters that could be seen all over the world during the 1960s.

Commercial posters

Using posters as a form of advertisement was probably one of the very first uses of this medium. As far back as the latter part of the 1800s people used posters extensively to advertise things as diverse as bull fights and motor vehicles.

The use of posters as a serious form of art, as a way for an artist to express his deepest feelings or expose injustices in society, never gained the same level of acceptance in the USA as in Europe. Posters in the USA remained to a large extent the arena where advertisers tried to lure the public into buying their products, attending their shows, or using their services. That doesn't mean to say that art was never involved - even if the posters were of a commercial nature. To understand that, you only have to look at the very artful posters produced by the traveling circuses of the 20th century. Many posters from that time are now collectors' items. If you were a student during the '60s, a Che Guevara poster from that time will probably be one of your most prized possessions.