Ever so contently I walked through the halls of the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada this last summer. Though there were plenty of exhibits in the museum- as one would expect from a museum -I spent the most time in what was my friends’ least favorite section: The Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque Exhibit (https://www.mbam.qc.ca/en/exhibitions/on-view/toulouse-lautrec/). With music that mimicked the early 1900s feel that the room held due to it’s posters and circular-couch decor, I was in awe. It felt like I walked into the drawing room that was strictly for old-fashioned advertising, quiet chatter about the changing times, and cigars. A giant poster of men on bicycles captured my attention, and a framed picture of a lone black cat with the words “Tourneé du Chat Noir” became the two pieces of art I remembered most from that entire trip.
https://www.mbam.qc.ca/en/exhibitions/on-view/toulouse-lautrec/#galerie Pictures from the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts website Toulouse-Lautrec Exhibit
Not a week ago I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across an article posted by Xerox. Yes, that Xerox. The article (https://www.xerox.com/en-us/digital-printing/insights/custom-poster-prints?cmp=smo-cntmkt2016&aud=gc&site=twt)
discussed 50 different famous posters throughout history. The first few pictures I saw in the article bore striking artistic resemblance to some of the posters I saw in the fine arts museum in Montréal, and some even advertised a few of the same things- cabaret clubs and other “luxury” goods. As I scrolled through the article, I came across a familiar sight: the “Chat Noir” poster from the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit. I felt the same excitement when I saw the poster on my phone, as I did when I saw it in real life. As I kept reading the Xerox article and moved through the generations and styles of advertising (from the late 1800s designs to WWII era styles, and even modern day ambient advertising) I wondered why things have changed so much, design wise.
Personally, I’m a fan of stylized, over-worked forms of art; advertising included. While it’s cliché to say, Andy Warhol’s style of advertising was wildly popular for a reason. It’s captivating, and it catches the eye and provides much to look at. Perhaps it’s for the same reason I loved that particular exhibit in the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. Original styles of advertising were simple, but elegant. They were art. Today’s advertising is less-than your modern day Picasso piece. Don’t get me wrong; I love the subtlety that modern advertising allows for. I love the potential for creativity and cleverness, and the copywriter in me simply adores the opportunity to be witty and sell a product at the same time. It’s like a fun little competition every time you make a new ad. I just wish modern advertising was a little more forgiving in the print media art department. More romantic, like it used to be.
If one day I’m fortunate enough to own and operate my own advertising firm, you can be sure that we’ll produce a new style of ads. A style that is vintage in design, but modern in words. And it will be successful.
Mark my words.