The Daily Heller: The Poster Man Can, Yes, the Poster Man Can!

Posted inGraphic Design
Thumbnail for The Daily Heller: The Poster Man Can, Yes, the Poster Man Can!

Seymour Chwast’s posters fit snugly into a tradition of the illustrative 19th– and early 20th-century French artistes affiches publicitaires, German Werbeplakatkünstler and English advertising placard masters. Although the styles are his own—“Chwastian”—the posters embody the spirits of such artists as Jules Cheret, A.M. Cassandre, Lucian Bernhard, Ludwig Hohlwein and the Beggarstaff Brothers, among the most famous. He has also contemporaneously applied Victorian, Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Art Moderne, his own "Roxy" and other decorative approaches as graphic accents to enliven a bounty of colorful and playful drawings and letterforms.

Chwast’s posters, like his editorial illustrations, book covers, packages and other graphic designs, are conceptually driven, sometimes decorative, occasionally abstract, and frequently comical, whimsical and expressive. Even dark subjects (like the brutality of war) are usually handled with surprising lightness and subversive wit.

For his latest book, Poster Man: 50 Years of Poster Design, the man himself, Seymour Chwast, selected around 145 of his 175 lifelong (and still postering) output. Shepard Fairey wrote an intro and I wrote a foreword.