Poster commissioning and London Transport Museum - online essay
By the mid 1990s, commissioning artists directly for posters was becoming increasingly detached from London Transport’s main marketing strategy.
Design Director Jeremy Rewse-Davies began to work with the museum’s Retail Manager, Michael Walton. Their collaborative commissioning ensured that the art posters retained a presence on the Underground network.
The ‘Simply’ campaign was introduced in 1997 and ran until 2001. A series of artworks were commissioned to appear on posters and free leaflets promoting leisure travel around London. The specific message of each design corresponded directly with the marketing strategy of that time.
In 2000 Transport for London was formed. Responsibility for publicity went from their Marketing Department to London Underground’s Marketing and Planning Department. Their research revealed the demand for an autonomous public art programme, the outcome of which was Platform for Art. Art posters outside of this programme soon lost any formal positioning on the Underground.
In 1995, Viacom Outdoor (now known as Exterion Media) became responsible for managing advertising space across London’s Underground system. Walton commissioned a series of art posters for Viacom specifically designed to fill unused advertising sites. Fillers, as they became known, were an effective way of getting high quality art posters onto the system. Like Art on the Underground posters, they were to act primarily as wallpaper, improving the passenger environment. Fillers could be up for a long time, so themes had to be general and never season specific. However, this did not stop them engaging with the consumer or communicating the aspirations of the organisation. Fillers often acted as a ‘soft campaign’, in line with the publicity ethos of the day.
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