Posters of the month:
july + August 2018
British Railway Posters
For July & August, we're featuring historical 20th century British Railway posters.
Free posters of fifteen different designs will be available starting July 12th 2018.
The entire series of fifteen prints will be on display in our front gallery windows through August.
About the Exhibit:
Very few of the railway posters emphasized, or even included, the trains themselves. A majority focused on the countryside, the architecture, the people one could meet. It was more the development of a narrative, the suggestion of an experience, than an advertisement for trains.
The expansion of the railroads permanently changed the way that we view landscapes. Historically, a detailed foreground receded to a middle ground that drew the eye to a specific point of interest. From the inside of a train, perspective is constantly changing, with focal points shifting and blurring.
This dynamic landscape became an entertainment of sorts, especially before modern cinema. So the posters were meant to be an exciting preview of that journey, and had to be designed accordingly. Traditionally drafted in a 50x40 inch frame, that proportion also happened to coincide with those of railcar windows. This was utilized, along with a clever tight cropping, to exaggerate the size and emphasize the significance of the experience itself.
While the British Railway posters were effective at marketing to ethos instead of product, they're also a study in good design principles. An interesting take is provided by Paul Rennie in his article How to Design a Railway Poster. You might pick up some tips for the design of your next poster.