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When deciding on a poster design, it is critical to understand that there is no magic formula for creating great posters. Many designers are self taught, while others attend a professional design program at college or an art school. It is hard to define precisely what makes a great printed poster, but the key is to get noticed and be remembered.
The reality is that many outstanding posters are ridiculously simple. Anyone who has seen a poster or just about anything else with the classic yellow and black smiley face on it intuitively understands the power of a simple and easily recognizable design. While a smiley face poster conveys a simple, light-hearted message, another excellent poster design was the "I Want You" poster with an image of Uncle Sam looking straight at the viewer. Although associated with World War II, this image actually was first published in 1916, and according to its creator (James Montgomery Flagg), was the most famous poster in the world. Over 4 million copies of this poster were printed between 1917-1918 and the image of Uncle Sam was later adopted for use during World War II. This poster carries a powerful message that moved many people to do their patriotic duty, or even, to give their lives for the cause.
There are many examples of powerful poster design which involved more use of color and iconic imagery. Take, for example, the poster of Rosie the Riveter with the title "We Can Do It" created by Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller in 1942. Yet again, this poster and its serious message and moved many people to think about the war effort and act accordingly. Similarly, the classic poster of Che Guevara designed by Jim Fitzpatrick in 1968 was also a powerful symbol of revolution throughout Latin America and beyond. All of the posters mentioned above involved drawings or caricatures. Other outstanding posters contain real photography, like the famous pin up poster of Marilyn Monroe with her windblown dress or the 1940's poster of a sailor kissing his sweetheart in Times Square.
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