Andrzej Pągowski on posters

“The Polish School of Posters doesn’t really exist anymore. It was during the sixties when the world started to realize that there are people who design posters in a different way. People who don’t just literally interpret what they see on the screen, but who express a personal, more poetic interpretation. These were arthouse interpretations made by painters, because back then most poster designers were also painters. Using their painting background to bypass the whole idea of an artistic procedure, they created symbolic paintings, which took the West by surprise, and led them to naming this style the Polish School of Poster.

Despite having studied under one of the most influential creators of the Polish School of Posters, Waldemar Świerzy, I don’t really feel [like] its continuator. This, because the Polish School of Posters glorified the individual artists style, so each unique style is very self-representative. My posters are more concerned with the subject that is being represented, than about being [my own].

When the critics talk about ‘the wayward child of Polish posters’, they mean I can’t be classified, that there is no Pagowski label and you never know what you will get. People who ask me to design posters for them usually say it is a risk because ‘I never know what you will bring me.’

There is no straightforward formula for designing a poster, not even an accomplished artist knows, by default, how to make a good poster. If they simply follow a routine they are not going to make a good poster, because then there is no energy, no dynamics, it is just ticking boxes. I try to veer away from what I know about making posters. I am to start from a blank slate every time to begin anew. I always work on the night before the deadline. I do this unconsciously, perhaps because I am afraid that I will complete the work and yet still have time to change it. In my case with my way of working, that could be very difficult. I would have a problem making decisions, and this way I know I have twenty four hours, so I just make myself sit down and do the work.

A poster is designed to hold the viewers attention on the event it advertises. When I try to communicate a film, I do everything in my power to make the viewer notice that poster on the street, even if only for a split second. That is what I find so hard to accept about photography-based posters, because if a whole street is plastered with them I think it all just blends into the background.

A great designer, Franciszek Starowieyski, had a really great formula for creating posters. He used to say, ‘If a viewer is walking down the street and sees a poster, he says ‘ah’ because he noticed it. Then he walks out of the cinema, sees the same poster, and says ‘a-ha’ because now he understands it.'”

— Andrzej Pągowski (via)