Andrzej Pągowski in 1993

Another excerpt from an interview with film poster designer Andrzej Pągowski, this time from 1993:

Andrzej Pągowski: If a graphic artist is not capable of adapting to the requirements of a film or theatre director or of an advertising campaign, then he will not be given the commission.

What does it mean to adapt to these requirements?

Pągowski: Today the client very often wants the poster to be based on a photograph and imposes printed letters, because they are said to be more legible. However, for years our graphic designers have been creating painterly posters, making use of handwritten lettering and they do not wish today to change that style. I myself have written texts with a feather, and now I must resign from this practice. I compromised for the sake of the client. I am in a comfortable situation that no one interferes with the illustrated part of the poster. My graphics can mirror what my soul tells me to do, but what does with it, the letters – must be as clear as possible.

A certain number of poster designers prefer to paint, but the clients wish to have photographs. This probably does not augur well for the future?

Pągowski: It is commonly assumed that a photograph is more visible and clear. That, of course, is not true. What is important in a poster are the emotions that it evokes and that one second for which it holds the attention of the viewer. I explain to all clients that one more photograph among the mass of photographs on other posters will not stand out, but just the reverse – will become swallowed up. Not long ago I was designing a poster for one of the western distributors for the film ‘Black Robe’. I painted it because I did not have a photograph which would reflect the mood and the idea which I had invented for the poster. Despite that, it fulfilled its role – it was visible on the street and people noticed it. Realizing that idea and at the same time, fulfilling the expectations of the client who wished to have a commercial poster was for me truly enjoyable.

What has changed apart from that?

Pągowski: All the deadlines have become shorter. In the past the process of making a poster took three months, today it is one week. The market has become very nervous and more difficult. Large foreign companies came to Poland and they do not wish to use Polish posters at all. The foreigners say, ‘Ok, this is a marvel. I will buy it gladly and hang it on my wall, but I will not put my money into it.’ They want the poster to be sunny and cheerful, and ours were sad, made for not very joyful Polish films, politicized theatre plays and solely tragic themes.

You said that the Polish poster loses out today against foreign competition? But up till now it has had the highest praise in the world.

Pągowski: Yes, but that was the artistic poster. It is still rated very highly and has outstanding authors. There is too much in us of old time ‘uhlan’ fantasy and that concerns the poster as well. But we will not give up so easily. We do not want to be reconciled with designs of Mickey Mouse and I believe we will never agree to that.

— (via Rzeczpospolita #106 (1993) / Pągowski: Illustrating Films)