Assignment 1: Historical Printing and printmaking



History of Printing

One of the earliest forms of printing was called Cuneiform, it was used as a writing system in Sumer (which we know now as Iraq) The printing was done by Wedge-shaped marks being made on clay tablets by a blunt stylus cut from a reed. Then, in 2500 B. C. ink was created by the Ancient Egyptians and Chinese. It is believed that their ink was made from mixing carbon with gum, 50 years later, in 3000bc, Egyptians have created papyrus, the first form of paper which was cut into long, thin stripes and weaved around each other.


In 500 BC parchment was created, which was favoured over papyrus as writing paper and made out of processed animal skin, it was originally made in Pergamon. Then paper as we are familiar with it was invented in China, 105 AD, by the Chinese Eunuch Ts’ai Lun which he created using mulberry bark and hemp rags with water, the first iteration of paper was a big success and became used all over China as it was preferred over papyrus and parchment which was much harder to write on.


In 618–906 AD the woodblock printing was invented in China, this new creation allowed for the faster widespread of texts. It is believed that the wood block printing was inspired by the old use of bronze and stone to leave impressions in stone. However, while woodblock printing was innovative and was a big advancement in technology, it consumed a lot of time, for example, a Chinese monk attempted to print the Tripitaka (a collection of Buddhist scriptures) using wood blocks. It took him twelve years to finish printing the 1076 volumes.


In 794 AD the first paper mill was created in Baghad (in present day Iraq) after the Chinese had told them what paper making was and how to do it, however the people in Baghad used linen instead of the bark of the mulberry,


Moveable-type printing was invented between 1041 and 1048 AD by Bi Sheng, a man highly experienced with wood block printing; Moveable-type printing was a lot faster than wood block printing. However because of the thousands of characters required for written Chinese, moveable type was not as efficient for them. In fact, woodblock printing was still popular in China for many more years.


Many years later, in 1440, a German inventor named Johannes Gutenburg created a newer version of the adjustable print mould which became much more popular than it’s ancient Chinese counterpart for its comparatively advanced technology. Then, in 1455 Gutenberg’s bible was completed by Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer, the first men to use a printers mark which is a logo serving as the printers trademark, they used Gutenberg’s adjustable print mould.


In 1465, drypoint was developed in Germany, drypoint was an engraving method where the design that someone wants to be printed is scratched into a copperplate with a sharply pointed instrument. Dry pointing was used for both writing and art, as seen by the artist Paul F. Berdanier, who used dry point engraving to do multiple pieces of art.


In 1515, etching was developed by metalsmith and artist Daniel Hopfer in Augsburg. Etching is a way of embedding into a material with a pattern, much like drypoint engraving, can be used for art as well as writing.


In 1605 the first newspaper got published in Belgium


In February 28, 1982 the company Adobe Systems, famous for their Adobe Design programs which are used by both professional businesses and students and printing began to become more digitally oriented


Types of Printmaking

Lithography was created by Alois Senefelder who first used it in a publishing firm he opened with Franze Gleißner in 1796, before lithography, most posters were made wood or metal engravings with little colour or design. Lithography is a way to create posters based on how water and oil are unable to mix, this allowed for the images on the posters to be coloured in a way it hadn’t been able to before, in modern day the process is still the same, however, with the improvement of technology we can do litho printing faster, however, it uses a lot of ink and water to create the image as well as general energy to power it.
Image result for lithography process

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Screen printing is another way to print that is still used in modern day, to screen print you force ink or metal on to a surface through a screen or sheet of fine material so as to create a picture or pattern. Screen printing is one of the easier printing techniques that can be done by anyone, with people being able to create their own screens using wood planks and a sheet of material with small holes in it to act as a siv, however, it can be quite messy,  and since the ink can be difficult to clean up it may not be cost efficient for a newcomer to screen printing.
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Digital Printing

There are two types of digital printing, Inkjet and laser printing.

Inkjet can create a printed image by propelling droplets of ink onto the sheet from one or more of the print heads inside the printer. A big benefit of inkjet printers are that they are one of, if not the, cheapest printing products available and with the advancement of technology, even cheaper inkjet printers will give a fairly good quality result. Unlike the laser printing method, Inkjet printing doesn’t need to warm up before printing.

However, while you can buy cheap printers, the amount of money that would be paid out for the ink cartridges is excessively larger than the price of the actual printer, the ink itself can also pose a problem, in that very commonly printers will be clogged with ink, causing an error with the machine.
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LaserJet printers are an example of an xerographic printer, what this means is that the image that will be printed is created by giving an electrical charge to a metal cylinder called a drum, toner particles are attracted to the current produced by the electrical charge, meaning the colour from these particles shall collect and be transferred to the paper that’s being printed on.
Six basic stages
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A benefit of LaserJet printing is that, while inkjet printing may not need to be warmed up, the LaserJet printer is still faster at printing. LaserJet printers are also higher quality on average in comparison to inkjet printers, which means that a designer would do better to get a LaserJet printer if they wanted the best possible quality printout of their work.

However, LaserJet printers are quite large, making them very difficult to have in a home environment, LaserJet printers are also the most expensive modern printer to get, and that’s without the price of toner added on top, making LaserJet printing a process that only companies or designers and such that have quite a lot of money can use.


Adolphe Mouron Cassandre  – “The Normandie”.
Image result for Adolphe Mouron Cassandre - “The Normandie”.

Above can be seen one of Cassandre’s most famous posters, “The Normandie”, this poster was made using stone lithography, the reason being because using stone allowed print makers to naturally draw and paint onto the stone to create the image.


The process that Cassandra used to create “The Normandie” was stone lithography printing. First Cassandra created a design that was put onto the template, afterwards he added colour by using airbrush and stencils, a common feature of Cassandra’s works, on to a flat surface which could be greased up so as to help separate the ink, the stone then has gum Arabic put onto it, sometimes with a very small amount of nitric acid added. The gum is put onto separate the image and the non-image areas.


Cassandre would then put a piece of paper against the stone for the ink to be transferred over to when put through as printing press, or simply rolled down with a lot of pressure, then all Cassandre would have to do is to keep adding ink and going through the process again.


Normandie was created for the purpose of advertising a French Line Transatlantic Cruise; this can be seen by the way Cassandre presents the ship in the poster. It’s the main feature, taking up the majority of the page, by doing this Cassandre causes the boat to be connoted by the viewer as grand and impressive in size, as well as how it’s a ship that people should want to get on. Normandie uses a bold use of colouring; with the sparsely used red being used to highlight sections of the ship Cassandre reinforces the emphasis on the boat because of the contrast between red and black.


It’s also worth noting how the only other instance of the colour red being used on the advertisement was on the bottom lines of text, which says something along the lines of ‘A luxury and single class liner’, this could be a clever way for Cassandre to keep his main message of advertising the French cruise line in the spotlight as, much like the highlights on the boat, Cassandre conveys the importance of this line of text by making it a stark contrast to the monochrome colouring of the rest of the text.


The main message of Normandie was to try and convince people to want to go on the ship which Cassandre was advertising, which I believe he gets across well with the use of scale of the boat to seem impressive as well as colour contrast being used to highlight certain elements of the poster, it’s interesting to note that because of the composition of the boat Cassandre has created a leading line on the boats front edge, which will probably be what a viewer’s attention is first drawn to, down to the text.


The text itself uses a mixture of fonts, while this can be affective, this can also be a bad design choice, by this I mean that the while the majority of lines flow well together, the line ‘French line’ is done in such a different text font that it is quite jarring in comparison, as this is the only instance of this font being used, however on the other hand this could be a positive as ‘French line’ is the company that commissioned Cassadre to create the advertisement poster, so by putting the company name in a different font, it makes the title stick out more and, as such, will be more likely to be noticed first out of the other text, which connotes the importance of this line of text in comparison to the rest of the poster; so, from a design perspective having a completely different font for one line while the rest of the fonts, while varying, are all sans serif fonts, which could actually be a result of Cassandre believing that the typography on a poster should be bold and capitalized, isn’t good practice, but from an advertisement stand point, which is, the main purpose for Normandie, it’s a good idea.


Another way that Cassandre showed the grand scale of the boat was having very small birds flying past, which Cassandre used to put emphasis on the fact that this boat is abnormally large, this is also done through the small French flag at the top of the boat, by using these as measuring scopes Cassandre is connoting just how big the boat is without being too blatant about it to the audience.


Cassandre also created multiple famous typefaces, these were, Bifur (1929), Acier Noir (1935) and Piegnot (1937), Cassandre only used capital letters in his typefaces as he believed it was easier to read, Cassandre is also notable for making his typography a large part of his posters, as seen here in his poster, ‘Nord Express’ 1927, where in Cassandre makes the text look like a part of the train machinery ‘Nord Express’, 1927 (Unpublished Poster featuring Cassandre’s ‘Acier Noir’ typeface)
Image result for nord express


Bauhaus is a difficult Modernist movement to talk about because it was more of a combination of movements instead of one specific movement. Bauhaus originated from a German art school named Staatliches Bauhaus, or commonly known as simply Bauhaus, the reason the Bauhaus art school was created was as a result of fears that art was becoming soulless and that art was losing its place in society as art and manufacturing were separated, the main goal of Bauhaus was to try and bring them together, Bauhaus also put emphasis on putting crafts and fine art on the same level as respect.

One poster I personally like from the Bauhaus movement is ‘Poster for the 1923 Bauhaus Exhibition in Weimar’ – Joost Schmidt, 1923, the fairly on the nose name for this poster tells us what the purpose was, it was a poster that, much like Cassandre’s, was an advertisment, except this time it was for the first Bauhaus Exhibition again, much like Cassandre, Schmidt used colour lithography to create this poster.

Schmidt’s design cleverly shows the Bauhaus-Signet in the diagonal cross of the overall design which was designed by Oskar Schlemmer, who was Schmidts teacher and one of the influences for this poster. The Bauhaus Signet was actually a required part for the advertisement, alongside information about the event, date and venue which can be clearly seen on the poster.

One thing I personally like about Schmidt’s poster is that it showcases what Bauhaus was at its core very well, such as the Bauhaus’ focus on new typography, which can be seen by how Scmidt uses a variety of different fonts, as well as the use of geometric shapes to create interesting designs.

The use of colours bring emphasis to the different pieces of information, such as how ’15.Aug’ is on a red background white ’30.Sept’ is on a grey background, this helps to take in each piece of information separately while not detaching it entirely from the poster.


I also think that the compositions attempts to keep the poster visually interesting is good as well, each shape was obviously thought out in detail over how it will look on its own and as a part of the whole poster, with the rectangular shapes not  overpowering the smoother edged, circular shapes and vice versa, none of the shapes overlap as well, which keeps the poster from looking cluttered, something that was vitally important to a poster such as this, which used this many different shapes and colours.
Image result for bauhaus joost schmidt

Contemporary Poster – Disney’s The Jungle Book poster
Image result for disney jungle book film poster

The above poster was almost certainly created using Photoshop or Illustrator and After Effects, this can easily be told by the fact that the background looks computer generated or possibly even digitally drawn while the human boy looks much more solid and real, this poster was then printed in bulk from a modern printer, most likely LaserJet. It’s hard to explain how something looks computer generated while something else doesn’t but the best way I can explain it is that the lighting on Bagheera and the background don’t properly correlate to what Mowgli would look like if the background was actually solid.

The main reason for the creation of this poster was to advertise the film ‘The Jungle Book’ from Disney.


The layout is fairly simplistic, keeping only the two main figures in the spotlight, while the other figures are around the border, by doing this; Disney could get the viewers to look around the poster to see all the characters both in the centre and background and, in doing so, would inevitably see the title of the film. Another note on the layout is that the space between the two rock pedestals that the two main characters are standing on acts as a sort of leading line down to the title, couple this with the fact that that space is the only yellow with the surrounding area being green and it becomes a fairly obvious line created by Disney to get the viewer to look below the main image.


The contrasting colours of green against yellow looks great as a result of the contrast of pleasant looking colours and creates a good atmosphere for the film, the green against yellow contrast also helps the title be seen more easily, with the bright yellow title against the dark green leaves it stands out while not taking away from the characters, by using the green and yellow contrast, Disney creates the denotation that the jungle the film takes place in is lively and interesting.


Another point to make about colours is the fact that the one instance of a completely different colour, red, is worn by Mowgli in the poster, by Disney having him wear the only example of red on the poster the audience can connote the fact he’s the main character and can set him apart from the rest of the characters on the poster, to a lesser extent this can be said for Bagheera, who’s dark blue colouring also stands out, just not as much as Mowgli, as blue is a complimentary colour to green while red is a contrasting colour.


The use of serif font works well on this poster as the formality of the font type, Disney conveys a sense of seriousness to the film the poster is advertising which will appeal to adults, it’s also probable that the font was purposefully made to look like an updated version of the one used for the original ‘Jungle Book’ from Disney which is a good call back that can help viewers who have seen the older version identify this remake with the original.


History of Posters

The first time posters began to be more wide spread was in mid 19th century France where many posters that are now seen as fairly iconic come from, for example, the palais de glace posters by Jules Cheret which looked like this:
A Brief History of the PosterImage result for palais de glace


Jules Cheret used, and became well known, for his use of lithography for his posters, in fact, Cheret created more than 1000 posters over a 30 year career.


When the The Belle Epoque happened posters became much more popular, with exhibits being opened and magazines and dealers appeared. Then the Art Nouveau era happened and posters changed drastically from their lithography style, now they had bolder lines and its use of colour changed and became more detailed and contrasting.

However, once the art nouveau style started to die off a new era arrived The New Century and Early Modernism era, which started at the beginning of the 1900s, the new era was the result of many newer artists disliking the way art had looked before it, going for much more abstract shapes and less detail in the colour. A result of the new century and early modernism style was German Plakatstil, or poster style as it can be referred to, which was started in 1905 by Lucin Bernhard in Berlin and Ludwig Hohlwein in Munich.






Once World War 1 began posters changed again as a new meaning for posters appeared propaganda. In fact, both world wars are examples of the largest use of posters for propaganda in history, America produced about 2,500 poster designs and approximately 20 million posters in little more than 2 year. Many of the posters we’re still familiar with now a days. The posters were propaganda for different issues that were faced in the wars, from donating money, recruiting soldiers and trying to help moral for volunteer workers, to provoking anger at the enemy.


Between ww1 and ww2 there was an art movement that happened which did, as all art movements do, affect how posters looked, however, with the growth of industrialism, people didn’t care for the art nouveau style much anymore, and with people being influenced by the modern art movements Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism and Dada, the Art Deco era was created, shapes were simple and curved letterforms were replaced for sleek, angular ones that reflected the jazz age that had arrived.


After World War 2 the mid century modern movement, which lasted around from 1933 to 1965 started, the movement was helped by people becoming more interested in advertising internationally by using posters. The posters of the mid century modern movement used many typography elements and most of the time would use modern photography that is then edited instead of illustration, the posters of the 1950s to 60s used bright colours and the shapes were simple and didn’t have lines.

Once the 70s began The International Style of Typography (or the Swiss style) became increasingly more popular outside of Switzerland but this didn’t last long as in the early eighties people stopped using the the Swiss style, a teacher named Wolfgang Weingart led the rejection which brought around a modern graphic style known as Post Modern design, even though it’s not referred much to that.


That brings us to posters of modern day, modern day posters follow in the last couple of movements in that they are abstract, and with the further advancements of computer software allowing to help create posters (i.e.: Photoshop, illustrator, etc) posters have become more diverse and quicker to create then they were before.



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