National Theatre to Release Book Showcasing the Theatre's Poster Power
National Theatre Posters: A Design History, a new book published this October, showcases a stunning array of posters from the earliest days of the NT right through to the present day. Written and compiled by design writer Rick Poynor, this beautifully designed full-colour hardback is a striking celebration of the very best of theatre and graphic design.
For more than 50 years, the National Theatre has used posters to promote and give visual expression to the enormous range of productions that it stages. While other major British arts organisations also utilise posters, it would be hard to find in-house relationships with designers as continuous and stable as those seen at the theatre.
Across the decades, the National Theatre's poster designs have been the responsibility of just five individuals: Ken Briggs, the theatre's first graphic designer; Richard Bird; Michael Mayhew; Charlotte Wilkinson; and Ollie Winser.
An enormous range of graphic approaches has been used - typographic, illustrative and photographic. This diversity of expression reflects the designers' temperaments and skills, the fashions of the time and changing conceptions of the most effective way to communicate graphically with the theatre's audiences.
National Theatre Posters, comprises both a history of design at an institution central to British cultural life, and a record of some of the most iconic productions staged there.
Rick Poynor is a writer, lecturer and curator, and Professor of Design and Visual Culture at the University of Reading. He has written extensively on the history of British visual communication. His books about the subject include Typographica (2001) and Communicate: Independent British Graphic Design since the Sixties (2004). Poynor was the founding editor of Eye magazine and his work has appeared in Eye, Blueprint, Frieze, Creative Review, Icon, Domus and many other publications. His other books include No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism (2003), Jan van Toorn: Critical Practice (2008) and the essay collections Design Without Boundaries (1998) and Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World (2001).
This book can be purchased online or in store at just £25. National Theatre Posters: A Design History retails elsewhere for £35. Go to the National Theatre online bookshop.
Design by Charlotte Wilkinson, Photo by Phil Fisk