In present, graphic design professionals are widespread. Until the middle of the 20th century this profession was unknown. Poster artwork was really art and done by real artists.
Divided into styles you will find some of my favorite artists (from A–Z).
In opposite to contemporary poster design, photographic vintage posters are nearly unknown.
For lithographs in colors all images must be illustrated, even the typography as well as logos.
If you are wondering if posters are real art, please have a look at the collection of the The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), New York:
Binder, born in Vienna, is widely regarded as one of the most influential modern graphic designers. As a young man he apprenticed to become a lithographer, later he studied at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. His artistic talent, and his mastery of lithography helped him to win many awards during his student years. In particular, he won a competition for poster designs for the American Red Cross, which paved the way for his employment at that institution when he immigrated to the US in 1936. His clients included American Railroads, American Airlines, United Air Lines, Fortune and Graphics magazines. In 1957 he created a series of eight posters for United Air Lines – a masterpiece of modern graphic design! Binder eventually abandoned commercial art and forayed into the artistic venture with abstract, non-representational work. Starting in 1960, Binder devoted himself to painting, and exhibited in the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York, and in his home country in Vienna's Museum of Applied Art.
was a famous swiss illustrator. His teacher was Ernst Keiser, one of the very first professional calligraphic artists in Switzerland. In 1928 Donald Brun won a local poster competition and started his carreer as poster designer. In 1964 he was invited to show his work in Kassel at document III (exhibition of modern and contemporary art). During more than 40 years he designed posters for well known companies and trademarks like Persil, Gauloises, Bell, Bata, and Swissair. An overview of his work can be found at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich.
California based, best known as an illustrator for outdoor and western art for many magazines (e.g. True, Country Gentleman, Sports Afield, Saturday Evening Post, Readers Digest). He created many stunning posters for United Air Lines (1950s), General Motors, Pacific Telephone, Chicago Bridge and Iron, Seattle Times.
Abram Games was born in Whitechapel, London. In the 30s he worked as a "studio boy" at the London commercial design firm Askew-Young and was an assistant to his father, a Latvian photographer. In 1935 Abram Games won a poster competition held by the London City Council. From 1936 he freelanced as a graphic artist, creating posters for London Transport and Shell. During WW II he became official poster artist to the British War Office and designed a lot of propaganda posters. Abram Games developed his own style with which he succeeded in making a maximum statement with a minimum of means (”Maximum Meaning, Minimum Means"). After WW II he freelanced again as a graphic designer for a lot of big companies and some Airlines (BOAC, BEA, British Airways, Aer Lingus, EL AL). Abram Games was one of the best 20th-century graphic designers, and the last famous designer of lithograph posters before this craft was replaced by the offset process.
Gruau, born in Rimini (Italy) started as self taught fashion illustrator at the age of 14. He became one of the best known and favorite artists of the haute couture world during the 1940s and 50s. Gruau's first position as artistic director for advertising was in 1947 with Christian Dior. In 1948 he moved to the United States to work for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. In 1959 he designed the stunning cinema poster for Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. Gruau has been working on advertising campaigns for famous names such as Air France, Martini and Omega watches. René Gruau's work has been exhibited at the Paris Musée du Costume in 1989 and Musée de la Publicité in 1999. Rimini, Italy's Riviera, has a permanent collection in its city museum. Today Gruau’s works are collected and exhibited by the finest art institutions including the Louvre in Paris.
is best known, however, for his influential work in the field of travel advertising. During the 1950s and 1960s, David Klein designed and illustrated dozens of posters for Howard Hughes’ Trans World Airlines (TWA). David’s use of bright colors depicting famous landmarks in an abstract style defined the state of poster art of the period. In 1957 a TWA poster of New York City became part of the permanent collection of the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York. These works are much imitated and to this day define the excitement and enthusiasm of the early years of post-war air travel. They defined the Jet Set style and have become iconic. David won numerous awards for Excellence from the Society of Illustrators for his TWA work, including his Philadelphia, Boston, Switzerland, and Africa poster art. David won many other awards during the 1960s for his TWA work (his Los Angeles, Rome and Paris Posters in particular) from travel, advertising, and illustration and design organizations. Klein’s work gains in popularity and his Broadway and Travel posters particularly have become sought-after collectibles Worldwide. Source: davidkleinart.com
Maurice Laban was an english freelance illustrator working for many companies during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. His BOAC / Qantas posters were printed using the serigraphy (silkscreen) process using fluorescent opaque inks which results in an incredible intensity of color.
Herbert Leupin studied at the Ecole Paul Colin in Paris. After his return to Switzerland Leupin worked for a short time in the studio of Donald Brun, but already opened in 1938 his own design studio. Leupin designed a total of more than 1000 posters. Starting with naturalistic style, he soon added a subtle humor and visual wit. Often he was one of the winners at international poster festivals. An overview of his work can be found at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich.
was a design-partnership, founded in 1933 in Warsaw. In 1937 they moved to London and worked together until 1955.
Jan Lewitt was born im Poland, where he taught himself in graphic design and illustration. After working together with George Him for many years he turned to fine art. Lewitt (sometimes written “Le Witt”) had a lot of exhibitions in Europe and the USA.
George Him was born in Lodz, Poland. Him enrolled himself in the german Leipzig Academy for Graphic Art and Book Industry. Since 1922 he practised first in Germany, then in Poland (here he collaborated with Jan Le Witt in 1933) and since 1937 in London. They were well known as Lewitt-Him and active in all fields of graphic design, publicity, exhibitions, corporate identity, book design etc. After WW II Lewitt-Him designed campaigns and posters for AOA (American Overseas Airlines). Since the establishment of the State of Israel, Him was active on a variety of projects connected with Israel and the Jews. In 1963 George Him designed (in collaboration with the dutch designer Otto Treuman) the EL AL (Airline of Israel) logotype and corporate design, which was in use for more than two decades. www.georgehim.co.uk
Ludekens was an American artist and illustrator. He was born in Hueneme, California. At the age of 20 he moved to San Francisco . Although he had no formal training in art, he found work as a billboard painter. He joined the advertising agency of Lord & Thomas in 1931, and transferred to the company's New York City office in 1939. He returned to San Francisco in 1945, and remained there until his death.
Ludekens worked in a variety of media, often depicting rural scenes such as fruit ranches, coastal scenes, and the Indians of the Southwest. He produced story, article and cover illustrations for magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, The American Magazine, Good Housekeeping, The Country Gentleman, Fortune and True. During the 1950s he produced a series of posters for American Airlines and United Airlines.
Poster artist Harry Rogers, born in Australia, designed the Qantas logo-font in the mid-1960s. He created a lot of of poster series from the 1950s through to the 1970s which promoted Qantas as Australia’s premier international airline. He created a different 'look' for each series by devising different techniques e.g. cut paper and collage, geometric shapes or lively watercolor illustrations.
This posters are part of the first edition of QANTAS posters. They how the silhouette of a Super Constellation in the upper right corner. QANTAS used Super Connie airliners from April 1954 to May 1963. These posters are available in two sizes: one sheet (app. 99 x 74 cm) and quarter (app. 50 x 38 cm).
"Savignac" (the signature on his posters) was a French graphic artist, who’s work is distinguished by a humorous simplicity. He was born in Paris, and died in Trouville-sur-Mer (Calvados), aged 94. Raymond Savignac started designing posters under the direction of Cassandre, a really famous poster designer
In 1949, Savignac's posters were exhibited at the Gallery of Beaux Arts in Paris. A lot of of his posters are permanently displayed at the Montebello Museum in Trouville, where he spent his last years. His Air France Giraffe poster is used as cover illustration, too. The book "Affiches Air France - Rêver le monde" by Louis-Jean Calvet and Philippe-Michel Thibault is a stunning collection of famous Air France posters.
In 1956 Vanden Eynde started his career as Art Director of "Commercial Publicité (Cpub)", SABENA's own advertising studio. He created a lot of posters for the Belgian airline. Vanden Eynde’s collage technique looks like neo-cubist style: brightly coloured fragments of areas are artistically combined to form views and backgrounds. This series is a masterpiece of modern graphic design. It counted about 20 different posters, a lot of them depict a figure in national costumes against the background of an architectural eye-catcher.
Vasarely (Vásárhelyi Győző) was born in Pécs and grew up in Budapest. In 1927, he learned traditional academic painting at the private Podolini-Volkmann Academy. In Budapest, he worked for a ball-bearings company in accounting and designing advertising posters. Vasarely became a graphic designer and a poster artist during the 1930s combining patterns and organic images with each other. Vasarely left Hungary and settled in Paris in 1930. He worked as a graphic artist and as a creative consultant at the advertising agencies Havas, Draeger and Devambez (1930–1935). After the Second World War, he opened an atelier in Arcueil, near Paris. In 1970, Vasarely opened his first dedicated museum with over 500 works in a renaissance palace in Gordes. A second major undertaking was the Foundation Vasarely in Aix-en-Provence, a museum housed in a distinct structure specially designed by Vasarely. source: wikipedia
Villemot was a French graphic artist known primarily for his iconic advertising images for Air France, Bally Shoes, Perrier and Orangina. He was known for a sharp vision that was influenced by photography and for his ability to distill an advertising message to a memorable image with simple, elegant lines and bold colors. From 1932-1934 he studied with artist Paul Colin (himself a poster artist) who was considered a master of Art Deco. By the end of his life Villemot was known as one of the last great poster artists and many collectors and critics consider him to be the "painter-laureate of modern commercial art". Since his death in 1989, his memorable images have been sought after by collectors. At least three books have been published that survey his artistic career: "Les affiches de Villemot" (1985), "Villemot: l'affiche de A-Z" (2005), and “Embracing an Icon: The Posters of Bernard Villlemot (2015).
The Swiss artist Kurt Wirth was a painter, collagist and illustrator. He taught at the School of Art of Bern. He also collaborated with choreographers, and designed posters (including the
Swissair – Metropolitan, exhibited in the MoMA, New York), coins (including one to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Albert Einstein's birth) and stamps. Kurt Wirth's poster designs are
included in the Collection of Carnegie Mellon University.
was a French painter, draftsman, illustrator, engraver, and photographer. Hallo was born in Lille and died in Senlis. He grew up in Dijon where he studied at the School of Fine Arts. He finished his studies at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris . He is best known as the creator of many travel posters for private railway companies as well as other advertising material. His characteristic signature is ALO.
studied in Paris at the school of Germain Pilon. He was formed by O. G Gerin, founder of the technicians advertising corporation. Edmond Maurus created his first poster in the immediate postwar period, and he was a landscape painter too. Between 1925 and 1955 he designed numerous posters for french airlines (Air Union and Air France).
His name is not well known today, but his visual artwork is in everybody’s memory. Albert Solon was a self-taught artist who made a remarkable career as cartoonist (for the newspaper Paris-Centre), but mostly as poster artist. In the second and third decade of the 20th century Albert Solon worked for a lot of airlines: Farman, SABENA, Air France, Luft Hansa, Imperial Airways, KLM, and he made the very first poster for l’Aéropostale. Solon lived in Paris, and some years after his death, in 1987, his wife made an important donation of his work to the Musé Municipal in his hometown of Nevers.
Lucien Boucher launched his design career at the Ceramique de Sevres and made his debut at the Salon d'Automne in 1921, becoming a member in 1923: he also exhibited at the Salon de L'Araignée from 1924-1930. Besides lithographs, Boucher also created wood engravings and drawings in water color. Beginning around 1935, Boucher designed an impressive series of posters for Air France that he continued producing until he was well into his seventies. Boucher is known mainly for his absorbing Air France poster designs; known as "Monsieur Planisphere" (planispheres are flattened representation of planet earth) he created a variety of illustrated World Maps that depicted the global flight routes serviced by the airline.
Albert Brenet was born near Le Havre. Since 1921 he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His main focus became animal and landscape painting. Later he was specialized in marine art, painted army and air scenes too. In 1935 he began traveling for the magazine L'Illustration. In 1936 Brenet was appointed as an official artist for each of the three French military branches. After WW II he did a lot of commercial illustration, including advertising posters for some airline companies.
Jean Even was born in 1910 in Paris. He studied drawing at the Ecole Boulle. In 1932, he was awarded first prize at the entrance examination of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Four years later Jean Even was awarded the Casa Velázquez Prize, which opened the doors of this school to Fez in Morocco because of the Spanish War. He married Celine Canivet, a native of Paimpol, in 1938, herself a painter. Gouache is its favorite medium, the beautiful mattness of the colors, the speed of execution and drying as well as the lightness of the paper support, make this technique an indispensable companion of travel. From 1943, Jean Even put his creativity at the service of the Havas agency and its numerous customers.
Joseph Feher was born in Hungary, and attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Teacher’s College in Budapest. He also studied on scholarships at the Academy Bella Arte In Florence, Italy, and also the Bauhaus in Germany. In 1928, he came to the United States, and was a scholarship student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He then embarked on a career in commercial art and portraiture, and also taught at the Chicago Art Institute, and the Institute of Design. He first came to Hawaii in 1934, where he started a 40 year career with the Academy of Arts in Honolulu teaching at the art school. During that time, he was also employed part-time by United Air Lines, who sent him to the continental United States, painting watercolor scenes of different cities for their advertising campaigns and travel calendars until about 1949. Among many graphic arts awards received throughout his career, Joseph Feher has been the recipient of Distinctive Merit Awards from the Annual Art Directors Exhibition, Medal Awards from the Chicago Art Directors Annual Exhibition, and Award Certificates from the National Offset Lithography Competition and the Society of Typographic Arts, and many other prestigious awards. Written by his daughter, Nesta Feher, on josephfeher.com
French painting artist, who created a lot of stunning Air France and Aerovias Guest posters after WWII. Biography unknown (?)
lived on the south coast of England. He was a commercial artist, working not only for BOAC, but also as an interior architect who painted murals.
(This information gave me his nephew Barry John Hewson, who is founder of the New Design University in Lower Austria.)
was a danish artist who created many posters for SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System). In the 1960’s Otto Nielsen promoted the romance and excitement of faraway lands with his series of airline posters. He was a watercolor painter who came up with the clever idea of depicting animals traveling two by two to exotic destinations.
Otto Nielsen, born in Aarhus, Denmark where he was educated at Gustavus Bach's Character College in 1934-35. He loved to travel, and he started work with the airline DDL in 1946, later he moved to SAS airlines. He wrote and illustrated many books, too. Otto Nielsen's works are represented at the Museum of Decorative Art, the Museum of Danish cartoonists, Danish Revy Museum, Danish Poster Museum, Arts Museum, the Moderna Museet and Bryn Artiyn Library in Pennsylvania.
Mickey Ross (the owner of Ross Art Group Inc. in New York) talked about Nielsen’s posters here...
Frank Soltesz had a natural talent; he grew up as a small-town boy who loved to draw pictures and grew up to become one of the finest commercial illustrators of his time. Soltesz' first big push into becoming a professional artist came around 1933 when he enrolled in the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. After two years he got a job at the Pittsburgh Press and then later at advertising agency Rayart Studios. In 1945, Soltesz got another big push. Jack Frye, President of TWA, saw Soltesz' work and offered him a job doing TWA's magazine ads. Soltesz' work appeared in all the major periodicals of the day: Life, Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, Fortune, Time, Business Week, U.S. News and World Report.
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