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Reinvent ideas


My husband is a steam railway enthusiast so whilst visiting various railways and railway events I discovered the old railway posters from the 1930’s and 40’s.
The posters became more popular and were printed in colour when printing presses were manufactured in the 19th century. Stations across the country became inundated with brightly coloured posters advertising holiday destinations that were served by the railways. The posters were at their height between the First and Second World war, with fine artist such as Norman Wilkinson, Pieter Irwin Brown and Terence Cuneo designing them.
What’s attractive about these posters are the vivid colours and simple shapes, quite often trains are not even pictured. Instead holiday destinations were depicted to entice the viewer to visit these places using the railway companies.
Something that most people would overlook has great design significance. Most art isn’t original. Ideas are reinvented and appropriated, just like these posters.
You can compare these posters to a popular design movement now, called flat design. They both share flat block colour, bold typographical elements and simple shapes.

Adrian Johnson, Le Tour De France 2, 2014.

Can you think of any designs or artwork yourself that are so similar but were produced years apart from each other?
Image credits:
Top: London Midland & Scottish Railway, Liverpool and Manchester Railway Centenary Celebrations by Pieter Irwin Brown, 1930.
Bottom: Adrian Johnson, Le Tour De France 2, 2014. [online image]. Available from:  [Accessed 1 May 2015]

Posted by author: Leanne Putt
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One thought on “Reinvent ideas

  • I love old railway posters. I have a few French ones (not originals) and like their narrow formats- good for fitting into small wall spaces. There is definitely something nostalgic about them, but the sharp design stops the nostalgia being too sweet.

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