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Print design classics: five of our favourite posters

Timeless designs cleverly printed on A0, A1 or A2 paper and pinned to the wall of your bedroom – we can’t get enough of posters! In our latest article we run through five instantly recognisable posters that have maintained their impact through the years, along with a couple of recent efforts that we believe will stand the test of time. Can clever print management help you to produce an iconic print design classic of your own in future?


We Can Do It! – Howard Miller (1943)

Many propaganda posters from the two World Wars have become iconic due to their historical significance and strong cultural resonance, but perhaps the poster that remains the most relevant today is ‘We Can Do It!’ by Howard Miller. An obscure World War II poster, it was rediscovered in the 1980s and has since become associated with feminism and female empowerment. Much cooler than the overused ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ motif you’re no doubt overly familiar with!


Banana – Andy Warhol (1966)

Andy Warhol’s banana print has been immortalised thanks to its use on the album cover of The Velvet Underground & Nico – today one of the most influential records of all time, but sadly underappreciated upon its release in 1967. We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve seen a poster of the banana print since!


Rock music has provided us with many iconic images and even better posters over the years, from the Beatles’ stroll over Abbey Road’s zebra crossing to Bowie’s lightning bolt-emblazoned Aladdin Sane. Then there’s the Dark Side of the Moon, Blur’s Best Of, Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures – not to mention the Rolling Stones’ tongue and lips logo and Nirvana’s Nevermind. We could go on…


Jaws – Roger Kastel (1975)

While it’s tricky to choose between the most iconic posters from the music world, selecting just one iconic movie poster is equally problematic. E.T., Vertigo, Metropolis and even Ghostbusters benefited from striking promotional posters that have since gone on to survive the years, but when it came to the crunch we went for Jaws…


Roger Kastel, who based the image on Paul Bacon’s original design for the novel’s front cover, painted the aquatic thriller’s iconic poster back in 1975. The creeping sense of dread that permeates the film is captured perfectly by Kastel’s oft-imitated poster.


Barack Obama ‘Hope’ – Shepard Fairey (2008)

Perhaps one of the most easily recognisable images of the last ten years is Shepard Fairey’s ‘Hope’ poster featuring then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. The poster was first distributed during the 2008 presidential election campaign, and the popularity of Fairey’s image led to its official adoption by Obama’s campaigners.


Over 200,000 Hope posters were printed during the campaign, in addition to 500,000 stickers and countless other kinds of merchandise. The print has since been parodied innumerable times, including a memorable line of posters used for the promotion of Armando Iannucci’s In The Loop.

Moon – All City Media (2009)

It’s only been out for four years, but we think that the minimalistic poster for British science fiction film Moon – the directorial debut from 42-year-old Duncan Jones – is one of the best we’ve seen in recent times. The poster is simple but striking – a series of white concentric circles against a black background, with lead actor Sam Rockwell in character and looking lost and dejected. Plenty of other recent film posters also seem particularly memorable, including those of the Social Network, the Devil Wears Prada and Lincoln.


The timeless posters we’ve covered in this article all employ great designs to leave an impression on the viewer. Looking for a winning design for your own promotional campaign? Perhaps our Design Studio can help. If you have a design that needs printing to display proudly on your wall or distribute to clients, then talk to us and see if our print management services are right for you…

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