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Three print design lessons from Alphonse Mucha

Czech artist Alphonse Mucha is known as the father of the Art Nouveau movement and one of the early 20th century’s best-loved artists. He was also one of the finest early graphic designers, lending his talents to numerous marketing and advertising projects across Europe. Mucha ranks as a true legend of the marketing world, but what print marketing lessons can we learn from his life and work?

Know your brand

The Art Nouveau movement was initially known as ‘The Mucha Style’, so intrinsically linked was it with its key practitioner. Mucha’s style was extremely distinct and immediately recognisable, the artist employing consistent technique and frequently recurring themes in many of his key works. This approach made him incredibly popular in the commercial world, where clients could be confident of the style and execution of their commissioned work.

Arguably the greatest marketing success of Mucha’s career was the overwhelming popularity of his own ‘brand’. A consistent brand is all-important from a marketing perspective. Mucha found that creating a recognisable style meant potential clients would immediately associate certain images, subjects and text with him. Do the same with your own print marketing efforts and benefit from dependable brand recognition.

 

The importance of text

Alphonse Mucha was an extremely talented fine artist, and many of his portraits and illustrations executed in more classical styles are truly beautiful works in their own right. However, the artist was well aware of the importance of text in commercial graphic design, and began to employ practices that most print designers are familiar with today. He left blank space in his designs specifically for the inclusion of text, and even created his own typefaces – now intrinsically associated with the Art Nouveau movement. Mucha understood the importance of text in print marketing, but also knew that the image was what really sold the product. He kept text sparse and to the point. Contemporary print designers should look to do the same.

 

The art of advertising

Mucha was often dismissive of his commercial works, considering himself a fine artist and insisting that art existed only to communicate a spiritual message to the viewer. This viewpoint is hardly unique to Mucha, with artists in any number of different fields insisting that art for commercial or marketing purposes is inherently devalued. The ‘art for art’s sake’ argument has its merits, but it would be foolish to dismiss commercial art entirely – after all, even the greatest Renaissance artists had their patrons, and were often commissioned to create works celebrating the Catholic Church.

Canadian philosopher Herbert Marshall McLuhan famously noted that “Advertising is the greatest art form of the 20th century“, and while Mucha may not have agreed with this statement, the Czech’s commercial works are far more famous today than his traditional pieces. There’s an art to creating persuasive, compelling print adverts, so if you’re planning to go down the print marketing route this year, take a leaf out of Mucha’s book and strive to create something timeless and beautiful.

 

Here at PMG, we know that the best print marketing really is akin to fine art. Our design studio is full to bursting with aspiring Alphonse Muchas, all striving to help our clients create compelling, memorable – and above all – beautiful print designs. Contact us today to find out more.