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10 Posters from Poland's Golden Age of Graphic Design

By Dwell @dwell
Maciej Zbikowski Polish Film Poster

"This is what got me into collecting Polish posters," says James Dyer, the proprietor of eyeseaposters.com, a webshop with an impressive array of Polish film posters for sale." I like the perspective and bold colors used Maciej Zbikowski, one of my favorite poster artists, used."

What drew you to Polish posters?

I got hooked when someone sent me a postcard with a Polish film poster on it. It was the Seksolatki poster by Maciej Zbikowski. It took me a long time to find a decent copy but now it's hanging on my wall and remains one of my favorites.

What made you start collecting posters?

I used to run a record label and sometimes we would reference Polish posters for inspiration when working on sleeve designs. I've been collecting records for years and started collecting posters around five years ago. I sold a few here and there to help fund the collection and the website grew out of that.
 
What does a “good" poster embody in terms of graphics, color, typography, and messaging?

The right combination of graphics, typography, and color is important, but as we're bombarded with so much advertising it also needs to be concise, bold, and intriguing to really catch my eye.
 
Polish film posters produced in the communist era are unique because state-controlled film institutions commissioned revered national artists to create alternative posters to foreign counterparts deemed inappropriate to use as advertising. The inclusion of photos and sometimes even credits wasn't mandatory and the artists often chose a single image to represent the essence of the film. In many cases the posters had little visual reference to the film itself, resulting in some off-the-wall imagery. They're sometimes surreal and often have a satirical sense of humor.  

It's a shame film posters today have become so predictable. They're usually focused on photos of the film stars. I'd be more intrigued and more likely to see a film if its poster featured a man with a psychedelic butterfly head rather than a photo of Tom Cruise.

Where do you typically find the posters in your shop?

My collection really grew when a friend of mine moved to Poland. He helps me source stuff there. We hunt high and low in old cinemas, theaters, museums, etc. We found some in a shopping center and from a guy who had thousands stashed in his garage. As the posters' popularity grows and they become more sought after, they become increasingly hard to find, and even harder to find in good condition so sometimes I'm reluctant to let them go.

Do you have plans for a brick-and-mortar presence?

We're only online but we're planning some more exhibitions and a pop-up store in London. To fully appreciate them you need to see them in the flesh: the quality of the printing, the paper stock, and the natural aging process also makes them distinct.

Visit eyeseaposters.com to see the full collection and online shop


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