Monday, December 12, 2011

The Canadian Poster Book / Robert Stacey

Robert Stacey. The Canadian Poster Book. Toronto: Methuen Press, 1979.

Stacey produced this book to accompany an exhibit of a century of poster design and printing in Canada which was mounted by the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1979. He begins the book's introduction by arguing that, as of 1979, little work had been done on the history of Canadian illustration, graphic design, typography, or poster design, and that while some Canadians may have been aware that some contemporary Canadian poster designs had been shown and awarded prizes at international design competitions, few would know that the 1880s poster craze which began in France, and then moved to Britain and the United States, also affected Canada at the same time. Indeed, he argues that galleries, museums, archives, and other public institutions have largely ignored both Canada's relatively very rich poster design history, let alone its graphic arts history.

Stacey explains that in Canada, prior to the development of modern posters, public announcements were limited to engraved or letterpress broadsides. These began to appear in the late eighteenth century and continued to be used throughout the nineteenth. Consisting of advertisements and public notices, broadsides were largely limited to type. Desiring more visual and attractive means of communicating information, printers began to seek out alternative means of printing. The middle of the nineteenth century saw the answer to this search for the printing of graphics with the arrival of lithography in Canada. Lithography not only allowed the printing of colour graphics, but also depth and perspective.

Lithography had likely been invented by the German, Aloys Senefelder in 1818. It was then integrated into a rotary press in 1837 by Brisset. Both versions of the technology involve the reproduction of an image on a porous limestone block or zinc plate. With either technology, there are several processes by which the image can be reproduced on the surface. The free-hand drawing of the image onto the plate, in reverse, is auto-lithography. Chromo-lithography is the redrawing of a professional artist's work. Finally, photo-lithography is a process by which an image is photographed on a sensitized plate or stone. While the process was able to be used with faster presses printing increasingly large images as the nineteenth century progressed, in Canada, most lithographs were produced on a small scale by immigrant German and British lithographers, who had been trained in their home countries, and who carefully reproduced images by hand. While impressive, Stacey also argues that their work also, "tended to stiffly mechanical over-elaboration."

What Stacey terms the "modern art poster" originated with the French lithographer Jules Chéret. Taking the technology of hand-drawn colour lithography from London to Paris in 1869, Chéret created designs for theatrical, concert, and dance hall advertisements. He drew his designs on stone and introduced numerous colour through the process of over-printing. According to the art historian, Alan Gowans, there developed from Chéret's technique three different kinds of posters: "workaday posters," "art in advertising," and "art posters." Furthermore, Stacey notes that, according to Gowan, the poster should be understood to be a kind of fine art since it was largely obsolete by the 1890s, when most advertising was no longer taking the form of outdoor posters, but rather interior newspaper and magazine advertisements. The introduction of cylinder-printing which made use of unbroken rolls of wood pulp paper in the 1880s made advertising in newspapers and magazines more cost-effective. While poster advertising was effective, advertising in newspapers and magazines allowed larger numbers, over larger areas, to see the advertisements. Furthermore, Stacey argues that the poster was also understood to be too "arty" in that, while its colours and artistic elements did get the public's attention, it was believed that the public was often more drawn to such artistic elements than to the specific message that the poster was designed to convey.

While the "art poster" was not created until 1869, the technology to produce many single colour posters very quickly, the cylindrical press, was invented by 1848. Perfected for colour poster production by the 1860s, the cylindrical press could produce posters that were three metres high or more, supplanting the earlier flatbed presses used for lithographic work. In Paris, the large artistic posters by artists such as Chéret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec transformed the city, with the array of advertisements being a kind of gallery. Chéret was awarded the Légion d'honneur in 1890 for his contribution to the look of Paris and the printing industry. In response to this, in Toronto the editor of The Week wrote that, "all artists and persons of artistic taste will rejoice that encouragement is shown at least in one country to an artist who subdues to his skill and taste those hideous placards that disfigure so many places." Encouraged by the popularity of posters, as well as the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts styles in which they were being produced in Europe and America, Canadian printers also began teaching themselves the art of, and tooling themselves in the machinery required for, large art poster design and printing. However, where as large-scale Parisian posters advertised music halls and cafés, the early Canadian versions of the 1880s and 1890s typically advertised newspapers and magazines. Wishing to increase circulation, these publishers would produce large-size versions of their illustrated publications for store owners and news agents to attract customers. Stacey also notes that another reason for the smaller size of Canadian posters compared to, say, Paris, was the narrowness of Canadian city streets, the lack of outdoor public posting space, and a market for such posters amongst collectors, who would not have wanted enormous posters which they could not display indoors. In addition, many of these posters were often done in styles reminiscent of European poster artists.

Discussing the reception of large poster design and printing in Toronto during the 1880s and 1890s, Stacey notes that awareness of European and American poster trends was "registered" by the Ontario Society of Artists and the Toronto Art Student's League. The membership of the latter organization, founded in 1886, consisted of professional illustrators, lithographers, and art students, all of whom realized that they would most easily be able to make their living working for commercial art studios, as illustrators/artists for newspapers and magazines, or for printing companies. Interestingly, Stacey notes that the main objective of the league was to have Canadian artists make use, and have the public appreciate, the Canadian landscape as artistic subject matter. The ways in which many of the leaders of the league were influenced by late nineteenth century trends in French Impressionism, the modern Scandinavian landscape school, and art nouveau. While disbanded in 1904, the league would later be reincarnated as the Graphic Arts Club (which was later renamed the Canadian Society of Graphic Art) and the Canadian Society of Applied Arts, which was founded in 1903. The latter organization was supposed to follow the example of William Morris in that it encouraged original design and exploration in crafts, furniture, textile, or print design. However, Stacey also notes that a Canadian style of poster, or graphic, design never emerged. Rather at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century Canadian artists and designers often went abroad to study or gain employment, returning with the styles to which they had been exposed. At least, in this, in Stacey's words "rescued our artists and designers and their sponsors from chronic isolation[.]"

Stacey is careful to emphasize that, while there were "modern-style" illustrated posters being produced in Canada during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, where advertisements were "couched in the simplified, suggestive mode preferred by artists who adapted the flat, flowing patterns of the Japanese woodblock print to the lithographic poster." Rather, most either consisted only of type or were large-scale renditions of a company's logo or an image of the product. Where the product could not be rendered visually, the company's headquarters were often shown instead. Furthermore, following orders from the clients to maintain consistency, poster printers would reproduce the same images and slogans year after year, using the same graphic techniques and lettering, even when these different elements were long out of fashion. However, the growth of cities like Toronto did allow for the introduction of some variations on these basic formats. Yet, these were definitely the minority of posters which were consumed by the public.

Although many engravers and lithographers did not have aspirations to produce fine art, some did. Poster illustrators who would later become well known artists, including J. D. Kelly, C. W. Jefferys, F. H. Bridgen, F. S. Challener, and J. E. H. MacDonald all used the design industry to make a living which could support their fine art. They worked for companies in Toronto such as the Toronto Lithographing Co., the Toronto Engraving Co., and Grip Ltd. During the last years of the nineteenth century and the start of the twentieth these companies had been hiring artists and designers who images and layouts which would conform to their clients' wishes. This arrangement of having draftsmen, photographers, plate-makers, layout-artists, copywriters, and advertising salesmen all working together a cohesive company, or studio, was a radical idea at the time. Indeed, the concept was imported to Britain from Toronto by four members of the Toronto Art League and former Grip Ltd. employees. Founding Carleton Studios in London, A. A. Martin, W. T. Wallace, T. G. Greene, and Norman Price had the goal of allying the design values of William Morris and the Beggerstaffe brothers to the printing of text and graphics. By the 1920s, Carleton was considered the largest advertising agency in the world.

Political use of graphic posters began with the 1891 federal election campaign and a series of colour posters were produced for the Conservative party. The success of Macdonald's Tories convinced the party of the usefulness of such political propaganda. While billboards had been introduced in the 1870s to promote travelling circuses and fairs, Stacey argues that they did not have a significant impact until a regulatory body was established in 1912. The Poster Advertising Association, which later became the Outdoor Advertising Association, was an industry association which set standards and promoted the use of posters and billboards as a form of advertising. The effectiveness of the organization was suggested through the success of the First World War Victory Bonds art poster and billboard campaign which raised millions for the war effort.

Following the war, Canadian poster art was very slow to reflect the influence of the post-war typography and graphic design movements, including the Purists, the Objectivists, the De Stijl and Bauhaus functionalists, or the Soviet Constructivists. Although these movements did influence North American design, Stacey argues that that influence was slow to arrive, partly because of poor communication between European movements and North American designers and artists, but also because of the conservatism of Canadian advertisers. Where as Canadian poster designs were traditionally text and decoration-heavy, the European design solutions made use of sans-serif text, asymmetrical design and layout, photograms, and symbolism. Conservative Canadian designers were largely not interested in experimenting with symbolic approaches to advertising, where shapes and text were streamlined or reduced to essential elements, and where shapes and text were interwoven and/or where text largely only supported images so as to offer the audience an idea or feeling rather than a rational or irrational text-based argument. Rather, Stacey claims that much of the streamlining and simplification of images seen in Canadian graphic designs from the 1920s and 1930s was more often the influence of the car industry and the increasingly streamlined designs of its cars. Furthermore, he notes that larger, simplified posters could be easily absorbed by the increasing number of passing motorists and public transit riders.

According to Stacey, modern symbolist design styles of France's A,M. Cassandre and American E. McKnight Kauffer were specifically introduced to Canada through the Montreal designers Raoul Bonin and Allan Harrison during the 1930s. Bonin went to Paris, studying under Cassandre, while Harrison studied in London, working for Shell Oil, London Transport, and other design studios. Yet, as Stacey notes, even with this training, most Canadian advertisers and advertising agencies refused to part from traditional approaches to graphic design. This intransigence was further accentuated by the depression and the threat that untraditional approaches to advertising could lead to ruin. However, by the late 1940s, thanks to the efforts of other designers, including Clair Stewart, Eric Aldwinkle, Leslie Trevor, Charles Fainmel, Henry Eveleigh, and Carl Dair, alternative, modern poster design was finally embraced by a growing number of advertisers. Some of those modern posters which did appear during the 1920s to 1940s contained elements of the art deco style of the time, Stacey argues that the most lasting influence of the era was the work of the Group of Seven. Indeed, Stacey suggests that the group's characteristic bold colours and often simplified landscapes appear, and have been said by others to appear, "posterish." Stacey points out that this might not be understood as being particularly surprising since most of the members of the group, as well as many of their contemporaries, had first been employed as designers and illustrators, with MacDonald, Thomson, Lismer, Varley, Johnston and Carmichael all having worked for Grip Ltd., and then for Rous and Mann, which had been established in 1912. Others from Grip Ltd., including Carmichael and A.J. Casson (who replaced Franz Johnston in the Group of Seven in 1926), went to work for the silkscreen printing company Sampson, Matthews Limited, which Stacey claims was possibly the leading silkscreen poster printing firm in the country between the two wars. All of these artists did not only try to reflect the Canadian landscape and modernist design styles in their fine art, but also in the illustrations and travel posters they created as commercial artists.

With the beginning of the Second World War the Canadian government established the Department of Public Information, which was later renamed the Wartime Information Board. The Department hired artists to create propaganda for the war effort. However, a consistent poster design program was not fully realized until Harry Mayerovitch (aka "Mayo") was placed in charge of the design department for the Ministry of War Services National Film Board, which was charged with making graphic materials and films to inspire and inform Canadians of, and encourage support for, the war effort. Following the war the government did not maintain a peacetime poster program. Rather, many of the artists who had worked in the service of the country during the war returned to working for advertising agencies or commercial art studios. However, influenced by American trends, photographic or illustrated posters were often sporting crassly calculated sexual or "human interest" themes. The artists and designers were often simply following the instructions of art directors, committees, experts in efficiency, and market analysts. Stacey notes that, while imagery came to be of secondary importance in poster design during the late 1940s and 1950s, "too often, texts and images contradicted rather than harmonized with one another." In addition advertising revenue was being transferred by many advertisers to radio and television. Furthermore, new modern architecture made little space for public postering.

Public awareness of all kinds of advertising, including poster design and illustration, was enhanced in 1949 with the establishment of the Art Directors' Club of Toronto, which held a yearly exhibition/competition to judge printed advertising design. Similar arts directors' clubs were also established in Montreal, Vancouver, and Winnipeg in the 1950s. However, these organizations began to deteriorate by the late 1960s. The 1950s also saw the establishment of the Society of Typographic Designers of Canada. Established in 1956, the TDC was created to increase public appreciation of commercial and editorial typographic design, ensure the maintenance of design standards, and, above all, help define typographic design as a distinct profession. However, as visual communications design began to rely increasingly on images and less upon type, the TDC changed its name to the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada in 1968.

Stacey suggests that the kind of illustration which emerged in Canada during the 1950s and 1960s, while not a unique Canadian style, was unique in its approach. "The best designers managed to tread the narrow line between glib flashiness and cold impersonality[.]" The ability to balance the precision of European modernist design and nostalgic revisionism, while abandoning the domestic themes of the 1950s, was seen in the work of designers like Allan Fleming, Theo Dimson, and Jim Donoahue. They did not exclusively embrace one style of design, but borrowed elements from several styles, so as to make appealing and eclectic designs. While these designers were all based in Toronto, Stacey notes that French-Canadian designers were more receptive to Bauhaus-influenced European style, suggesting that this could be explained by the fact that many Quebec designers studied at European colleges, or that a number of influential European immigrant designers settled in Montreal and Quebec City. Stacey argues that this European influence can be clearly seen in the posters designed for both Expo 67 and the 1976 Olympic Games. However, by the mid-1970s many within the design community and the public were growing tired of the International Style, where form follows function. Stacey claims that in many cases the style was used as an excuse for a lack of real imagination and inventiveness in design. Indeed, Stacey notes that, while Allan Fleming did not deny that International Style designers such as Rolf Harder, Ernst Harding, and Gerhard Doerrie had made important contributions to Canadian design, by 1964 he complained that their approach was having too much influence, and that the homogenizing nature of an allegedly neutral form of design would result in the loss of more exotic means of expression.

According to Stacey, during the 1960s Canadian poster making divided into four different styles or trends. The first was the fine-art poster, which was able to continue to be produced with the help of demand from theatres, galleries, and other cultural institutions. Advertising posters and those for government institutions also survived, benefitting from events such as the Canadian centennial celebrations. The fourth type was the short-lived "rock poster” which inspired by similar creations from places like San Francisco and London. These posters, often referencing art nouveau or Jugendstil design, had characteristics including, "[d]a-glo colours, barely legible 'organic' lettering, erotic or hallucinatory imagery, and a modicum of revolutionary rhetoric[.]" While often produced cheaply and only contributing in a minor way to international poster design, Canadian rock posters showed that the genre of poster design and printing was not wholly controlled by advertising. However, Stacey finds the dependence upon American rock poster influences "distressing."

As of the late 1970s, according to Stacey, the decade's penchant for referencing art deco style was still strong, with the "self-indulgent" style of the rock poster having been largely abandoned. Stacey concludes his introduction by discussing the likely challenges for poster design and the study of its history during the last twenty years of the twentieth century. The then dedicates the rest of the book to examining various kinds of posters, including their developmental history.

Stacey's first specialized section is dedicated to the broadside, which he defines using the Oxford English Dictionary as a large piece of paper, printed on one side. In Canada, the first examples of broadsides date to the earliest printing presses in the British North American colonies, with printing introduced to Halifax in 1764 and to Montreal in 1776. Most early printed matter produced in these centres were government proclamations and bills, although there was some commercial advertising. The design of these government posters and proclamations did not change significantly for almost a century and a half, with many of the same layouts and typefaces being retained up until the 1930s. Not regularly illustrated, broadsides did often feature a crest or seal at the beginning of the proclamation or bill.

Fairs, Exhibitions, and Shows
In discussing posters dedicated fairs and exhibitions Stacey does offer a brief overview of the history of Canadian fairs, particularly the country's agricultural exhibitions. However, the majority of his chapter is dedicated to the evolution of the posters advertising the Toronto Industrial Exhibition/Canadian National Exhibition and Expo 67. Of the later event, he explains that most of the posters were created by Montreal designers who created the vast majority of them in the International Style, which he terms as being "austere." Furthermore, he argues that the choice of that approach was biased by the selection of the modernist Univers typeface as the official Expo 67 typeface. Stacey believes that, had the poster designers created designs which were more "typically Canadian," rather than attempt to achieve a universally acceptable look, the designs would have been more memorable. In the case of the photographs selected for many of the posters, he writes that the, "images selected to represent or symbolize various artistic attractions were too abstract to be compelling, and probably confused the casual visitor instead of exciting curiosity." (page 8) In contrast, Stacey lauds the posters created by Vancouver's Ted Larson for the La Ronde section of the park, which gave, "a feeling of the swinging sixties (psychedelic lettering, Da-glo colours, flowing patterns, more than a hint of art nouveau) and of the naughty dance-hall nineties." (page 8) Yet, overall, he claims that Expo 67 was "something of a graphic disappointment," although he does acknowledge that it was very beneficial for the graphic design industry of Montreal.

Travel, emigration and Tourism Posters
Stacey explains that, prior to the opening of the CPR in 1885, most advertisements for travel, emigration, and tourism were in the form of newspaper advertisements, posters, hand-bills, and illustrated trade cards. If illustrated, these works usually consisted of wood-engraved images or "vignettes" of the means of transportation, be they ships, trains, or train cars. Furthermore, these print advertisements were very text heavy, offering numerous details about costs, travel times, and destinations. With the opening of the CPR, which did not have any competition, the railway began to produce posters which were designed to attract immigrants to the Northwest. These multilingual posters, which by the 1890s had become colour lithograph posters, were produced in multiple languages and distributed throughout Europe. Yet, after the 1890s the CPR began focusing less upon advertising its rail service, and more upon its steamship service. Furthermore, the posters became increasingly more reliant upon images rather than text. Many of the posters followed the style of the British poster designer Frank Newbould, in offering the central image of a strong, friendly, central figure, possibly, as suggested by Stacey, with the purpose of dispelling the rumors of immigrants facing hardship and isolation on the Canadian prairies. Similar, simplified poster designs were produced by Canadian National Railways (created in 1918) during the 1920s and 1930s, especially by the designer J.E. Sampson. These posters, Stacey claims, were representative of both the stylistic approach and social attitudes during the inter-war years, "from complexity to simplicity, from representation to suggestion, from telling everything to hinting at much yet conveying the minimum of hard information." (page 14) Yet, by the mid-twentieth century travel poster design was dying out as advertising revenues were being diverted to television and radio, which could reach larger audiences.

Military Posters
The first military posters produced in what became Canada were text-heavy broadside recruitment announcements and pronouncements warning the population about threats of invasion. Common during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these posters typically took the form of government proclamations, lending them an air of, or reinforcing their, official legitimacy. They also made use of an array of attention-grabbing typefaces, so as to imply urgency and importance. However, as Stacey explains, the transition from such official proclamation-like broadsides to sophisticated photo-lithographic posters, as used in the First World War, was relatively fast.

The first example of creating and printing images of military conflict came in 1885 with the North West Rebellion, which Toronto's Globe newspaper illustrated through The Canadian War News which it produced in conjunction with the Toronto Lithographing Company. While produced using hand-carved wood-engravings, shortly after photographic halftone blocks were introduced, followed by  colour lithograph for the reproduction of illustrations. This was the process used for military posters during the first war. These posters were at first produced by private business and the advertising industry, which donated money, as well as billboard space for recruitment notices and Victory Bond drives. Some commercial art studios produced posters, either from their own initiative, while others received specific commissions. In other cases competitions were held between freelance and commercial studio artists for the creation of posters. Yet, initially there was no coordination of poster production, possibly explaining the range in the quality of the different posters produced. Thus, the federal government established the War Poster Service to publish material which would be distributed across the country. The posters were created for government agencies including The National Service, the Food Board, Victory Bonds, and the Volunteer Home Guard, all of which had either educational, recruitment, fund-raising, or morale-raising ends. Significantly, following the conscription crisis (passage of the Compulsive Service Act) in 1917, the service focused upon home-front concerns including thrift, charity, conservation of resources, and higher productivity.

War Poster Service posters were typically produced by the commercial art and design studios of printing and typesetting firms, the only such design studios in existence at the time. Based upon the poster campaign of the British government's Parliament Recruitment Committee, Stacey claims that the Canadian War Poster Service would come to act as a model for the American government's Division of Pictorial Publicity under the Committee of Public Information when the United States entered the war in 1917. Yet, while influential, Stacey notes that, of the artists commissioned to create posters for the Canadian government, few "academic," or fine-art illustrators and designers were asked to participate. For example, the members of the Group of Seven were not asked to create official government propaganda.

In discussing the style of Canadian First World War posters, Stacey notes that, unlike German posters, which had a sense of urgency and energy, and which made use of sans-serif capitals, thus helping to lay the groundwork for the "functional typefaces created in the 1920s and 1930s by associates of the Bauhaus," Canadian posters maintained strong nineteenth century design elements. While relying upon imagery more than many Victorian posters, they still retained traditional typefaces and melodramatic/domestic scenes. While some critics judged the posters to be ugly, others praised the large colour posters for, not only the job they did, but for adding large colour images to otherwise restrained and drab Canadian cities.  Furthermore, the advertising industry praised the posters for highlighting the how billboards could be highly successful means of advertising.

As in the case of the first war, the Second World War poster campaign began in a rather uncoordinated manner. Different government departments commissioned posters as they needed them and to different standards. With the establishment of the Office of the Director of Public Information, which was later followed by the Wartime Information Board, the Minister of National War Services coordinated poster production and distribution through the National Film Board. The NFB also worked closely with other departments when they required different kinds of graphic materials. This centralized poster production process ensured government control over the quality and content of the posters.

While posters were produced for the Department of Munitions and Supply, the Department of National Defence, the Finance Board (which controlled the Victory Bonds, Victory Stamps, and Victory certificate campaigns), and the Canada Food Board, the Director of Public Information's main concern was with advancing recruitment. While some posters encouraged the public to support the war effort through their actions, as well as through buying war bonds, or discouraged military members from participating in  possibly destructive activities, the purpose of the majority of the posters, according to Stacey, was to convince people to sign up for different services. To accomplish this end the poster designers made use of various tactics employed by other countries, including borrowing the image of the pointing soldier, imploring individuals to help defend their country. This same image was also used during the First World War.

Again acting as a model for the American propaganda campaign after the United States joined the war, the American government found that the most effective Canadian posters were sentimental designs. Posters containing abstract, factual, or humorous elements were seen as much less successful. One of the most effective of such emotional posters was that of the wounded soldier lunging towards an unseen enemy designed by Henry Eveleigh. In addition to the Victory Bond campaign of the National War Finance Board and "factory posters" (designed to promote thrift in use of resources), the NFB also produced the posters of the Walls Have Ears Organization, an nongovernmental association of American and Canadian artists and writers. One of the organization's members was the NFB's Harry Mayerovitch, or "Mayo", whom the founder of the NFB, John Grierson, had hired on the strength of his cartoons and paintings.

Circus and Carnival Posters
Stacey begins this section by explaining that as travelling carnivals and circuses became increasingly popular in North America during the 1880s to 1910s, their advertising proliferated across the continent. At the time this advertising was limited to billboards, placards, handbills, and posters. Furthermore, as large-scale colour lithography was introduced, carnivals and circuses were quick to make use of images to depict their attractions. Indeed, as Stacey notes, Jules Chéret had claimed to have been heavily influenced by American circus posters of the 1850s and 1860s in the creation of the Parisian art poster. Like his posters, the primitive images of the early American carnival posters had elements of illusion and suggestion rather than literal realism. While Canada had few of its own circuses and carnivals, it did have a small number of printers who produced the posters for such shows. In discussing these, Stacey dedicates much of the section to Andrew King and his King Show Print company of Estevan, Saskatchewan.

Sports Posters
Stacey begins by explaining that up until the 1930s most posters advertising sporting events were advertising armature events. Thus, rarely were such printed posters ever more sophisticated than woodcut and type decorated broadsides or simple billboards. However, apart from such basic opening remarks, Stacey dedicates most of this section to the poor organization and poster design for the 1976 Olympic games.

Political, Election, and Protest Posters
Initially, during the first decades of Confederation, political posters looked more like proclamations. Understood as one of the only points of contact between the voter and the candidate, the poster, which was very text-heavy, supplied the public with the facts and figures required to understand a candidate's position. What illustrations were included were usually engravings. The first posters to use lithography were those of the Conservative Party in the 1891 federal election. Supported by business interests such as the heads of the CPR and the Industrial League, the Tories campaigned using a series of posters created by the latter organization. The posters made use of detailed images which illustrated the prosperity which the country would have under the Conservatives' national policy, as well as the ruin which would befall the country should the opposition Liberals be allowed to introduce a free trade agreement with the United States.

Book and Periodical Posters
Stacey begins by noting that, while it may seem that posters advertising books and magazines appear to be a relatively minor element of poster design and printing, it was actually this area of poster design which first revolutionized the field in the United States in the 1890s, and introduced the simplified and stylized art nouveau "art poster" which had been seen in France, Belgium, Italy, and England by the late 1880s. In the United States, this style was first seen in Lippincott's magazine covers by Will Carqueville, the publication's chief designer, and in covers of The Inland Printer which were designed by Will Bradley. Bradley's 1894 "The Twins" cover for The Chap-Book is, according to Stacey, the first art nouveau poster printed in North America. It, like many of the other magazine covers of the style, was also printed as a window-bill for news agents and book sellers and was quickly bought up by collectors. The style used by both Carqueville and Bradley was, according to Stacey, "that peculiarly American combination of William Morris's neo-medieval arts and crafts ornamentation and the sensuous sunuosities of art nouveau as filtered through the pen of Aubrey Beardsley." (page 41) Other American artists who were inspired by the work and format of Jules Chéret, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrac, and Alphonse Mucha included Edward Penfield, Maxfield Parrish, Louis Reed, Ethel Reed, Frank Hazenplug, J.J. Gould, Ernest Haskell, J.C. Leyendecker, John Sloan, Charles Woodbury, Florence Lundborg, and Robert Wildhack. Most of these artists produced their work through lithography, creating a plate through a photo-mechanical transfer. The poster work of these artists was so popular, that the 1890s even saw the launching of several magazines which were dedicated exclusively to exhibiting and discussing publication illustrations.

With the rise in popularity of American periodicals featuring "art poster" covers, several Canadian newspapers began publishing special colour lithograph covers and illustrated prints which were inserted into special weekend editions. Papers such as the Toronto's Globe, The Mail and Empire, and Toronto Saturday Night hired Canadian illustrators, including William Cruikshank, G.A. Reid, C.M. Manly, J.D. Kelly, W.V. Alexander, F.H. Brigden, and Robert Holmes, all members of the Toronto Art Students' League, at a time when many of the leagues members were having to live in the United States in order to find employment as commercial artists. Such artists included C.W. Jefferys, who moved to New York in 1892. His reputation as an illustrator for the Globe and other Toronto papers soon secured him a position at the New York Herald where he contributed to the paper's highly illustrated Sunday edition. Returning to Toronto in 1901 and establishing his own studio, Jefferys was soon hired as the art director for the Toronto Star, for which he produced illustrations for special publications such as the 1903 and 1904 Summer Resort Directories.

Government Agencies, Institutions, Societies, and Organizations
The federal government made use of posters for the first time on a large scale with attempts to lure European immigrants to settle in Canada. Initiated after confederation, the immigration poster program was enhanced after 1896 under the command of Clifford Sifton and with the introduction of colour lithography. The federal government would not become involved with any other large scale poster design and printing campaigns until the First World War. However, even after the war, few government departments made widespread use of posters until the Second World War. Indeed, it was not until the 1960s and the country's centennial celebrations that the government would commission large numbers of posters and that many design firms would develop the ability to meet those design needs. However, Stacey argues that following Expo 67, the federal and provincial government would often only commission graphic material which was understood to be conventional and acceptable in its design. He writes that following 1967, "the bulk of publicity commissioned by provincial and federal government agencies smacked of compromise and timidity; mundane, safe, and unexceptional, it revealed the logic of bureaucrats who consistently awarded contracts to the same design agencies and advertising houses, which could be expected to come up with a reliable if uninspiring product." Furthermore, some departments, recognizing that graphic design could enhance the reception of their message, established their own design sections.

Stacey recognizes that much government graphic material produced since the 1960s has used the Swiss, or International Style. He explains that this is understandable in that the style is typically clear and neat, allowing a great deal of information to be conveyed in a relatively small space. Those federal government departments which Stacey notes as having been particularly concerned with pictorial publicity include the National Museums of Canada, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, the National Capital Commission, the Department of Industry, Trade, and Commerce (which in 1979 oversaw the Canadian Office of Design and Design Canada), and the Department of External Affairs. Also, he notes that as of 1979, Ottawa was the third largest advertiser in Canada, spending $9.5 million to advertise its policies and programs to Canadians and the rest of the world. However, Stacey argues that the effectiveness of federal efforts to disseminate information was lost with the closing of Information Canada and federal government bookstores in the 1970s. Where as Information Canada was charged with providing government information to Canadians, and the bookstores stocked many of the posters produced by the federal government, as well as additional federal publications, with the closure of these institutions, "the government has deprived itself of one of its few truly national distribution points." (page 46)

Art Exhibition Posters
Only briefly discussing this form of poster design, Stacey notes that before the 1950s and early 1960s, there were few Canadian examples of posters advertising art exhibitions. However, he does recognize that this was in keeping with international trends in poster design. While the 1890s had seen members of Paris' Salon des cents create posters to advertise exhibitions of their own work, posters advertising such exhibitions did not become common in Europe, and then North America, until after the Second World War. He admits that there were some examples of the "artist's poster" during the 1920s and 1930s, but it was not until the post-1945 period that such posters became common place.

Entertainment and Cultural Events
Although Stacey claims that posters for theatre productions stopped being largely typographic in character and started relying more heavily upon graphic design by the end of the nineteenth century, he also claims that there exist few surviving examples of Canadian theatre posters from between 1900 and 1950. Of the post-1950 period threatre poster designers of note included Bernard R.J. Michaleski's work for the Manitoba Threatre Centre, Theo Dimson's posters for Toronto Workshop Productions, Heather Cooper, Paul Gilberts work for the Penguin Performance Company, Stefan Czernecki's posters for the Alberta Ballet Company, Barry Zaid's (later an artist at Push Pin Studios) 1960s poster designs for Neptune Theatre in Halifax, and Gilles Roberts designs for Le Théatre du Nouveau Monde.

Recognizing the explosion which was occurring in the late 1970s in poster design for "underground groups" which made use of cheap offset and photocopying technology, Stacey laments the loss of, "a radiance which blossomed briefly during the psychedelic sixties and early seventies", when silkscreening technology allowed for the production of detailed and brightly coloured posters. Noting that Montreal and Toronto were the centres of the "psychedelia," he explains that the movement was led by designers including John Parsons, David Chestnut, Alex Macleod, Bruce Meek, Arnaud Meggs, donna Brown, Harold Kilnder, and Brian Spence. He also recognizes the influence of Vancouver's Bob Masse and his west coast, San Francisco-inspired style.

Product and Service Advertising Posters
Of product design, Stacey notes a distinct change in approach in the early twentieth century, which saw a break with the "overly detailed representational style of the Victorian era" to tidyer, sparser, and increasingly stylized approach in the 1920s and 1930s. He argues that part of the reason behind this change could have been the training in direct and simple message delivery taught to many commercial artists involved in the First World War's poster design campaigns. However, he also notes that the emerging European modernist design movements, as well as the Group of Seven, would also have affected the approach of Canadian commercial advertisement designers following the war. In the case of the Group of Seven, he notes that its members were likely highly influential in moving many commercial artists away from photographic realism since they had themselves worked within the industry at Grip Ltd., Rous and Mann, and at Sampson, Matthews. Yet, while influential, post-impressionism, symbolism, asymmetric design, and sans-serif text was not immediately embrace by Canadian advertisers following the First World War. Rather, these modern, avant garde approaches slowly overtook Canadian design, starting with particular advertising designers, such as Raoul Bonin of Montreal, who had studied under A.M. Cassandre in Paris.

Following the Second World War Art Directors' Clubs were established in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg so as to encourage innovative advertising design, including designs which borrowed from modern European styles. However, at least up until the late 1950s and early 1960s much of the material produced for the Canadian market mirrored that produced by American advertising firms. This material was, "safe, bland, inoffensive and unimaginative advertising[.]" (page 70)

One of the areas of Canadian advertising design which Stacey argues was not burdened by conservatism was self-promotional work created by artists, typesetters, printers, and art studios. However, much of this material was never seen by the public, but was only issued to clients so as to showcase the innovative design possibilities a particular establishment could offer. Noting that there exists little self-promotional design material from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s which has been preserved by archives, Stacey then offers an overview of the work by Allan Fleming for Cooper and Beatty during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Fleming was eventually replaced at Cooper and Beatty by Anthony Mann, whom Stacey explains introduced the use of Helvetica into the promotional pieces of the typesetting company. Mann was then followed by Jack Sneep, and then by Jim Donoahue from 1969 to 1974, designer of the Canada Wordmark as well as numerous posters which make use of a mix of modern and nostalgic elements.

The Billboard Jungle
Following a short section on health and safety posters, in which Stacey merely discusses a number of examples from the 1970s, the book's final section deals with the development of one of the main means by which posters have been displayed in Canada during the twentieth century: billboards. He explains that North American billboards were introduced with the large-scale circus poster during the mid- to late-nineteenth century. The first of these outdoor posters were three-sheet billboards produced for P.T. Barnum's circus. With standardized poster stands appearing in the United States in 1872, the typical billboard poster eventually came to consist of 24 sheets. The size of the posters became standardized in 1912 when a 26" x 39" poster size (28" x 41" paper size) standard was agreed upon by a joint committee of the Poster Advertising Association, the Printed Bulletin Advertising Association, and the National Association of Employing Lithographers. Sizes of billboards were then based upon multiples of these dimensions. As of 1979, most billboards consisted of twelve separate sheets in these dimensions, and Canadian standards were determined by the Poster Advertising Association of Canada, which was affiliated with the Poster Advertising Association of America.

The two leading outdoor advertising companies in Canada during the first decades of the twentieth century were Ruddy Signs of Toronto and Claude Neon Ltd. of Montreal. These two companies eventually merged so as to offer customers comprehensive neon lighting, lithography, and advertising design services. One of their major rivals in the area of printed posters was the Canadian Poster Company Ltd. of Montreal. The success of these outdoor advertising companies began in the 1920s with the post-First World War proliferation of both automobiles and public transit. As increasing numbers of commuters were making use of Canada's growing number of roads and transit services, billboards appeared in increasing numbers so as to try and sell those commuters goods on their way to and from work. While initially unregulated, "over the years" the introduction of government restrictions has limited the number and size of outdoor billboards, ensuring that the desire of advertisers to sell products does not compete with citizens' ability to enjoy their cities.

Beginning as early as the 1920s billboard printers, designers, and distributors were interested in determining the best shape and size for billboards. They recognized that passing motorists would be best able to digest the information presented if the images were simple, bold, and large. Stacey notes that the best billboards of the inter-war years were horizontal in design, with bold colours, and recognizable shapes, so as to allow the motorist to understand what was being advertised without being overly distracting. Largely conservative in their designs, some billboards would include projections, so as to break away from their standard two-dimensional format. During the Second World War, billboards were widely used to show the poster designs of the recruitment, Victory Bonds, and War Savings Stamps campaigns discussed above, as well as to attract volunteers and support for organizations such as the Red Cross.

Unlike in the United States, most Canadian provinces have banned the use of billboards on the major highways constructed following the Second World War. While it has been argued, by their proponents, that the presence of billboards keeps the driver alert, Stacey claims that studies have indicated that motorways with billboards have considerably more accidents than those where they are banned. However, regardless of their safety, Stacey concludes the section by noting that billboards are more effective than aural advertisements in that, as shown by studies conducted for the advertising industry, well designed, simple visual advertising is highly effective in having the viewer retain both the name of the product and the reasons why it should be purchased.

No comments:

Post a Comment