A recent project by designer Fintan Wall got us thinking about Vintage Travel Posters and their history. Having recently surged in popularity, vintage travel posters that depict the world's most beloved sites, can now be found in design houses and tourism markets all over the world.
In their hay-day travel posters not only advertised travel destinations but were also used by hotels, airlines, ferries and railroad companies to graphically represent and sell the romanticism of travel to the masses. Using striking images, simple colour schemes and bold lettering these old fashioned Facebook ads were often considered as contemporary works of art.
At home in Ireland the poster craze was alive and well in the 50s and 60s as we began to draw international crowds to this small island. JFK, The Beatles, Che Guevara, Bing Crosby and Cliff Richard were among those of note to grace these shores with their presence in that period. The Irish economy was up, as was Irish tourism and places such as Kinsale, The Burren, Bray and Howth became popular destinations for Irish and International holidaymakers alike. Taking on the same style as had been seen internationally posters for all of these destinations were brought to life. The early period of the 20th century up to the beginning of World War II was known as the "Golden Age of Travel" where technological advancements in Railroads Ocean Liners and Aircraft spurred a worldwide obsession with luxury travel in the upper classes. Post World War II a new age of air travel was born and this art Nouveau and mid-century modern style of poster became reinvented as advertisement for cross continental travel. Destinations such as Venice, Monaco and Morocco opened their doors to American tourists seeking the glitz and glam promised in these posters.
Often likened to the style seen in World War II posters this style of "Golden Age" poster has seen a come back in recent years with Artists such as Fintan Wall striving to reinvent this art form with a modern twist. His works feature locations such as the iconic burren in Co. Clare as well as the recently famed Skellig Islands which were used in the blockbuster, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Although travel has somewhat lost its romantic side of late these posters serve as a reminder of the luxury and occasion that came with jetting off across the world. Perhaps one could draw inspiration from these homages to destinations that live on today as some of the most popular attractions in Ireland.