At this point you might be wondering why and how is it possible that posters could evolve? How can something so banal be that important so as to even write an evolution story about it? Well, allow me to shed some light and dignity to this often underrated yet often seen piece of art and how it has made its mark in history.
The birth of posters can be traced all the way back to 1798 when the invention of lithography enabled masterpieces to be produced in high volumes to meet the demands of art collectors. As time moved on, the popularity of posters rose to its prime simultaneous to the widespread celebration of stage plays. At that time, posters were widely used to promote plays and other public gatherings or important events. It was very common that avid fans would rip these displays from off the walls for their keepsake and, consequently, from this came the birth of poster collection.
There are a good number of collectors nowadays as they were then who preserve old posters that seem to be nothing but moist and yellow scraps. Scraps which, needless to say, after 20 or 30 years are already considered priceless items that have become holders of documented history. It can now be used to take a glimpse in history’s past trends, cultural growth, political influences, pop culture and the maturity of visual communication methods and styles throughout the years.
The evolving cascade of posters dating back from its birth up to this day manifests an incrementing durability in the paper used and a more vivid ink quality. If we look at the evolution of posters, we might as well be looking at the advancement of printing technology. As printers furthered in their capabilities, better and more durable posters were produced. This growth in printing technology has afforded big advertisements to be displayed in more announced places allowing a dramatic increase in event or brand exposure.
These days, poster printing can now be done on canvas, vinyl, adhesive materials and other types of stock allowing more durability and flexibility on how they can be used. There are also a wider variety of ink types to allow indoor as well as outdoor displays that can stand changing weather conditions thus providing a longer poster life.
Going back to the overall view of the evolution of posters, the perspective that most of us fail to appreciate is how posters captures certain sectors in time. Some perhaps insignificant at that moment, but given 20 years after, is a commonly shared poignant memory. For the Coca Cola company for instance, if they try digging through their archives and recollect all of the Coca-Cola posters, it would be pretty reminiscent of the good ol’ days. Posters may be a public item, but after many years and without us knowing, it has turned into something we hold personal and a reminder of a time in our lives.