Studio: international art — 70.1917

Page: 52
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The Lay Figure

THE LAY FIGURE : ON THE POSSI-
BILITIES OF THE POSTER.

DO any of you happen to have
noticed what a falling off there
has been in poster-designing
during recent years ? ” asked the
Art Critic. “ A great deal of admirable work
was being done in this branch of art a little
while back, but of late it seems to have dete-
riorated quite unaccountably.”

“ Not so unaccountably,” returned the Young
Artist. “ The reasons for this falling off are
evident enough—the men who want posters
don’t want them to be good.”

“ Here, wait a bit, my young friend,” broke
in the Business Man. “ That is much too
sweeping a statement. I depend upon posters
very much indeed in my advertising, and I
always want the very best I can get.”

“ Then, if those you use are the very best
you can get, you have my sincerest sympathy,”
sneered the Young Artist. “ The stuff you
put about is a disgrace to the art of poster-
designing and an insult to the public taste.”

“ The public taste ! ” exclaimed the Business
Man. “ What has the public taste got to do
with posters ? The object of a poster is to
advertise something, not to teach people art.”

“ But cannot it fulfil both purposes ? ” inter-
rupted the Critic. “ Cannot a poster be an
efficient advertisement and artistic as well ? ”

“ Good Lord, no ! ” shouted the Business
Man. “ Directly you make a poster artistic
you spoil it utterly. A poster is a thing that
people have got to see whether they want to
or not. I take good care to have all mine
visible enough—they make you look at them.”
“ Yes, and for that very reason one hates
them cordially,” said the Critic ; “ and for that
reason, too, I think they miss their main object
as advertisements. When you have Prodgers’s
Pink Poultices hurled at you blatantly and
offensively from every hoarding you get sick
of the very name of them, and you feel you
would rather die than allow such a remedy to
come in contact with you. But if Prodgers has
the wit to make you believe that a pink poultice
has certain aesthetic possibilities and even on
occasions a touch of romance your inclination
is to regard him as a friend who is devoted to
your interests and has your welfare intimately
at heart.”

52

“ Hear, hear ! I entirely agree with you,”
cried the Young Artist. “ The noisy, inartistic
poster is as irritating as the raucous street-
speaker who shouts crude assertions at you
with a Whitechapel accent.”

" What has Whitechapel got to do with it ? ”
blustered the Business Man. " I do not come
from there.”

“ Then there is all the more reason why your
posters should not speak the language of the
locality,” laughed the Young Artist. “ Get rid
of the idea that blatancy is of value in advertise-
ment, and if you want to sell pink poultices or
purple pills don’t force them coarsely down
people’s throats. Give your clients credit for
possessing some measure of taste ; even if they
have not got any your flattery will please
them.”

“ Certainly; and they will respond much
more readily to flattery than to bullying,”
agreed the Critic. “ If you flatter the public by
putting good posters before them the result of
your efforts will be much more encouraging.”

“ Would you be so good as to tell me what
you consider to be the essentials of a good
poster,” sighed the Business Man.

“ The essentials, I take it, are just those
qualities which are lacking in most of the poster-
work which is being done at the present time,”
responded the Critic. “ I want to see real
decorative significance, for a poster should be
a true decoration, not merely a conventionalized
picture. I want originality of treatment, discre-
tion in colour management, soundness of
draughtsmanship, dignity of style, and, when
the occasion demands, an appropriate touch
of humour. I want the poster to be a thing
of which an artist need not feel ashamed, and
in which the public could reasonably be in-
terested ; and I want it to do credit to the
business instincts of the firm whose wares it
advertises. Do I want too much ?

“ You seem to me to want the earth,” scoffed
the Business Man ; ” but, all the same, I will
give it you if it will bring better results to me.
Where can I get these superlative posters that
you think I ought to have ?

" Oh, give us a chance,” cried the Young
Artist ; “ and you shall have all you want.”

“ There you are ! ” said the Critic. “ Give
the artist a chance and believe that he is quite
ready to help you. It will pay you to take him
into partnership.” The Lay Figure.
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