The main difference between early airline posters and later years was the size of the plane. The new winged transport was a prominent design element and the end location, if any, was hardly mentioned. Now, with air travel so commonplace and lots of airlines using the same jet (thanks Boeing and Airbus) the destination is the selling point. Geza Szurovy has selected some fascinating examples of the genre for his book.
Page eleven shows the first airline poster, the 1914 St Petersburg to Tampa route, in a tiny Benoist flying boat, that amazingly only carried one passenger. The venture lasted three months. Of the 170 posters shown there's plenty of choice to nominate your favorites, I like the ones that feature cut-aways of the aircraft and also the beautiful stylised airbrush rendering of New York that TWA used for their Transcontinental Boeing 307 poster from 1940, on page fifty-eight.
Presented in a book these posters create their own interest but I don't think many of them would have won any design awards. The typography and graphics, mostly paintings, just reflect what the airlines marketing department wanted. However ignore the type and look at the artwork and you'll see some wonderful illustrations from Cassandre, Jean Carlu, McKnight Kauffer, David Klein and Stan Galli and one from ace cartoonist Jack Davis, for Icelandic Air.
This is a large size all-color book but I was disappointed by the bland presentation, all the posters are butted into a light grey top-to-bottom panel on each page and even more annoying, on many pages, someone had the silly idea of adding small black and white photos of the planes that appear in the posters. This addition makes the depth of many posters smaller than they need be and the little photo, frequently showing plenty of detail, is just wasted. Fortunately this design treatment does not apply to every page.
If you are interested in the graphics of the airline business have a look at the beautifully designed 'En Route' by Lynn Johnson and Michael O'Leary, this concentrates on airline luggage label art and shows some super examples from airlines featured in 'The Art of the Airways'.
***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.