Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Posters with a Purpose London Underground Art Sale

London’s beloved transport system stood up to the challenge of the visitors to the London 2012 Olympic Games remarkably well this summer. 

 It even awarded itself with a poster with medals! - a clever use of station interchange symbols in a similar formation  to the Olympic rings and the ribbons of the 'medals' with the colours of London Overground, Central, Docklands Light Railway, Jubilee and District lines that conveyed the world's sports fans to the various  Olympic venues across the city.

But for regulars and visitors alike the London Transport system is so much more than just a transport system.

It is arguably the world’s longest art gallery.
This is due largely to the vision of a marketing guru called Frank Pick.

In 1908 the then six independent underground railway operators agreed to promote their services jointly as ‘the Underground’

Pick was responsible for branding and initiated a modern poster campaign to encourage off peak travel.

Christie's own mini poster for the auction
The underground's nick name was once
 London's Umbrella
300 Vintage posters from 1913- 1955 are being auctioned at Christie's October 4th 2012.

Estimates for individual lots range from £800 - £15,000 with the total collection valued in excess of half a million pounds.

The proceeds  will help  the London Transport Museum  sustain its collections for future generations.

Click here for Christies Auction: Posters with a Purpose

Artists over the years have used the Underground's roundel in clever ways as a ' story link' within a series of posters - here- to look like wrist watches- for a couple on their way to a date?

I paid  quick visit to the Christie's South Kensington Auction Rooms to see the posters in their Coleridge and Coyle Galleries.

The lessons for those of us in Selling are the principles of attention grabbing and communication  that these posters from the last century still teach us today.

They are also great art.

Principles such as:-

Keep it simple salesperson (KISS). 

 To grab your audiences attention employ a factual statement / a question / an eye catching visual / a reference or a link.

Click here for more on grabbing the attention of customers

Posters with Purpose -The Coleridge Gallery ,
 Christies, South Kensington London

Posters with Purpose
 in the basement gallery of Christie's , South Kensington
Notice brand icon characters still around  today
like the Michelin Man and Johnny Walker on this Underground poster from 1920 
Selling advertising space
By the 1920s the status of winning an Underground Commission became one of the most coveted prizes in the design world.

Fred Taylor, Austin Cooper, Man Ray , Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Julius Klinger, Edward McNight Kauffer are just some of the artists whose work is being sold in the Christie's Auction.

The Tube’s commitment to art continues today with Transport for London’s Art on the underground commissioning programme.

Currently on show on the walls of the vestigial platform at Gloucester Road Tube Station is the series Big Ben 2012 by Sarah Morris. It is worth alighting from an eastbound circle or district line to have a look at the series before continuing your journey.

Big Ben 2012 by Sarah Morris , at Gloucester Road Tube Station

One of he panels - Big Ben 2012

Pick's original philosophy on design was that

"the test of the goodness of a thing is its fitness for use.

If it fails on this first test,
no amount of ornamentation
 or finish will make it any better;

it will only make it more expensive, more foolish”

Whether the ‘goodness of a thing’, it's 'fitness', 'expense' or 'foolishnes's are among the criteria for the judges in this year’s   2012 Turner Prize  I know not, but maybe we will see or experience the work of  Spartacus Chetwynd, Paul Noble ,Elisabeth Price and Luke Fowler on the Tube Poster walls or at Christies Art Auctions in years to come.

(For those of us on a more modest budget there is always the on line poster shop for the Transport Museum with reproduction posters .
Click here for Posters on line at the Transport Museum)

1 comment:

  1. "Posters with a Purpose" I love this particular idea. I think we should be doing more of these, instead of useless stuff that gets us all separated. We as a society should be more concerned about more important things and this is one of them.