Saturday, January 5, 2008

Travel Posters from '50s and '60s

Hamish Grant, a photographer in Toronto, found a stash of 35mm slides of travel and marketing posters from the '50s and '60s. Peep them for a fascinating retrospective of graphic design trends at that time: color, layout, typeface.
Some are quite amusing. The "Britain Welcomes You" poster features a bagpipe player. As in Scotland. Yeah, I know Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, but c'mon. "Britain" didn't need to borrow culture from their northern neighbor - which if I remember correctly was invaded by the british and absorbed into the borg. "Britain" has their own icons they could have used, right? Stonehenge, anyone?

I haven't looked at all of the posters yet, but a few trends stand out so far. Brown with blue, embracing the 2-D approach to art, minimalist wording, san-serif preferred over serif.

It strikes me that current advertisement is more wordy and dense. I appreciate the simplicity of this older style. I'm sure it is a function the medium and the intent: these are likely posters for travel offices. The intent would have been to draw people in to the storefront office to learn more, and subsequently sell (and upsell) travel packages through personal interaction. That different business model required a different solution than what works in today's market and self-service model. While I do absolutely like having all the facts available and can shop around, sometimes a little simplicity can go a long way.

I'm looking forward to the "calm beauty of Japan at almost the speed of sound" next month. (Via NWA not JAL, however.)

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