Sunday, September 14, 2008

Victorian Era Style

I have always enjoyed the art and design of the Victorian Era. Though the people portrayed have rosy cheeks, advertising may not be entirely truthful, and there was much degradation of formal typefaces, I still love the aesthetics of Victorian Era art and advertising. In fact, these are the qualities that I love most about Victorian imagery.

The style of the era was ornate, cluttered, feminine, flowery and heavily patterned. Advertisements showed greatly detailed illustrations and a variety of hand-drawn type. Colors were bold, and the "designers" weren't afraid to fill the page. No restrictions were in place in regards to imagery and type - The ads are truly creative. Even if there is no real concept behind most of the work, and definitely not an inch of white space in the ads, the hand lettering and detail in the illustrations capture my interest. I believe this is due to the fact that this style of "design" is almost exactly opposite of my own personal style of design.

The Victoria Era saw improvements in transportation, communication, the beginning of urbanization along with factory jobs because of the introduction of machines used to replace manual labor. This had a great impact on the success of the economy. On the other hand, the cities changes so rapidly that they became crowded and polluted and poor living conditions, child labor and poverty became common.

In the visual arts world, there were improvements in communication and printing as well as the boom of advertising. Icons such as Santa Claus and political cartoons were imagined and created. Two of the greatest images (in my opinion) that I came across in my research are found below along with links to their flickr pages. The image of Santa below is a perfect example of advertising not always being completely honest or "politically correct," but still being imaginative and entirely amusing.

I would think that the next step in design, after the Victorian Era, would be to begin standardizing type once again, tone down the imagery a bit and give the ladies and gents in the ads a bit less blush on their cheeks; an overall move towards a simpler look. However, I don't think that the fantastical imagery would disappear all at once. I would guess that it'd be slowly phased out with lessons learned from Victorian advertising that could be applied to future advertisements.


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