||Bookmark this page!
The Development of the Modern
When Eric Gill
submitted the original designs to letter the facade of a bookshop in
Bristol, little did he know that he would change the face of visual
design for all eternity. When the font was released as a
full-fledged typeface in 1928, it was immediately thrust onto the
national stage. The old London and North Eastern Railway adopted the
font for its new image.
Not only did it pave the way for every poster and promotional image
of the railway to bare the distinctive design, but also it changed
graphic design forever. Throughout the twentieth century, posters
would evolve as a form of art and personal expression. They would
also turn the tide of history.
While humanist design was popular at home, geometric typefaces and
the Bauhaus manner of design were sweeping the Continent. Fonts like
Futura suggested a progressive, modern school of design. Stark
design and glyphs replacing images were the manner of the day.
Experimentation seemed to be a major calling for designers of
posters throughout the entire twentieth century. The next decades
would see the so called Swiss Style that took the idea of clean,
readable posters to the starkest extent. Grid layouts, photography
with no drawn illustrations, and grotesque sans serif fonts became
characteristic of this school of thought.
Many people will probably be familiar with this design because of
British Rail. Before privatisation, British Rail used a font they
developed that was similar to the Swiss font Helvetica. The
so-called Rail Alphabet font was used on everything the system
printed, and its posters epitomized the stark grid layout of the
Swiss Style. Some private operators continue to use the look, and
the National Health Service uses it for hospitals in England and
While even the Sealink ferry services used this design, the world
was turning towards experimental designs that would make such
starkness seem tame by comparison. Social unrest hit in the 1970s,
and the punk subculture hit back. With the new music driven scene,
society was suddenly open to a variety of new forms of art that
pushed the envelope. The stranger and shocking the posters were, the
better, and the punk community did not fail to deliver.
These new designs would shatter the previous ideologies and shake
them to their core. The punk community had wanted a do it yourself
ethic. With that came a clamouring for a less professional look.
This grittier style was readily gobbled up, and today’s posters show
designs from all of the above types.
Posters - probably the largest choice of
Posters in the UK!