I hate to go full hipster on you folks, but I have a personal bias for vintage posters.
Must be the heat
The New York Times recently featured an interview with Matthias C. Hühne, the owner of Callisto Publishing and the author of Airline Visual Identity, 1945-1975. The book was a collection of vintage posters post-World War II up until the shift of advertising from print to television.
Hühne explained his rationale, saying that advertising really began after World War II. “(T)he airlines had all these large aircraft on their hands that they didn’t have before. The business was suddenly bigger, and the distance they could cover was bigger. This is when they started to pay a lot more attention to advertising, and so on.”
Most of the prints during this period were iconic, such as the TWA New York poster which is now part of a private collection, but sadly most of the designers of these posters remain unnamed.
“That’s fairly typical for commercial design,” said Hühne. ” In some cases, the companies didn’t allow the designers to be named. But in some cases, too, the designers themselves wished to remain anonymous. Some were well-known artists, for example, who needed money and worked anonymously on commercial projects. This wasn’t art. It was commerce.”
Hühne also mentioned the poor corporate archiving methods during that time. Corporations weren’t big on the idea that the information about these posters would have been important in the future.
Another noticeable aspect of these posters is the emphasis on the destination in comparison to the airline ads of today. Most airline advertising focus on comfortable cabins, spacious seats and sociable service, which tells us something about the current consumer view on the travel industry.
For Hühne, this might be the reason for the decline of the graphic design industry. ” I hate to say that. It’s not what it used to be in the 1960s when every designer who wanted to be someone wanted to work for the airline industry. Today those talents are working for Apple or in the tech industry.”
On a happier note, check out some of the airline posters featured in Matthias C. Hühne’s book, Airline Visual Identity, 1945-1975:
Read the full interview by the New York Times here.
Do you think airline print advertising has declined since the 70s? Comment below!