Minimalist movie poster – The art of less is more
When we say poster, we’re referring to a poster that you put up on your wall, converting it into an element of communication that has transcended its communicative or promotional function to take on a decorative or vindicative role. We’ve all used posters to bring color to a room or a filing cabinet and they’re coveted objects among collectors.
Used in this way, a poster can be considered part of the decoration of a room. As an informal element, it is usually fixed to the wall or cupboards with adhesive tape or drawing pins. They often appear in a child’s bedroom, illustrating their sports idols, the characters of their favorite TV series, or the main characters in their video games. They’re also essential items for teenagers who use them to keep their favorite singers, bands, or actors close to them. These posters are usually available in thematic magazines or can be looked for and bought in specialized shops.
It is also possible to frame a poster, although in this case it is usually referred to as a picture. The frame gives it greater durability and a more formal appearance so that its use can be extended to other rooms in the house beyond a young person’s bedroom. In addition, it is very common to find them in studios, offices, restaurants, and businesses that want to convey a modern aesthetic and/or develop a coherent theme according to the posters they use.
Many companies around the world have specialized in the creation and sale of posters, and the fact is that more and more people are opting for this type of graphic document to decorate the walls of their bedroom or even their living room.
From Freepik we offer you hundreds of poster templates so that you can personalize your designs. You can also get inspiration from movie posters or use our amazing mockups to see how your posters would look in a realistic environment. You can also make online edits in our powerful Wepik tool, where you’ll find plenty of posters you can edit with no need for any design skills.
The poster has become such a widely used element that many designers have turned their creations into genuine decorative icons and their dissemination has become widespread. You may even be decorating your own home with one of these posters and have no idea of its origin.
Striking examples include the poster of Rosie “the Riveter”, by J. Howard Miller and the legendary poster with the slogan “We Can Do It” which promoted factory work by women during the Second World War and which today are symbols of female empowerment. Other posters that have achieved the status of icon include the one created by the British government during the same armed conflict that said: “Keep calm and carry on” and the one that advertised the most famous Parisian cabaret of the 19th century “Le Chat Noir”.
But it’s movies that have given the poster it’s biggest boost. Posters collect the adverts of the most important movies, becoming true works of art and collector’s items in the process.
Different artistic styles in the history of posters
Posters have evolved along with the different trends in graphic design throughout history. Art Nouveau inspired the so-called “cinema painters” in early film history. These poster artists made attractive and colorful illustrations to catch the attention of people passing the cinema, enabling people to see whether the film was suitable for the whole family or not.
Art Deco influenced the artist Heinz Schulz Neudamm to design the poster for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a futuristic film and one that earned the accolade of the most expensive poster in the history of cinema.
In the 1950s, the minimalism of Saul Bass, a poster designer who worked for directors such as Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock to create unique and historic pieces such as Vertigo, Anatomy of a Murder, Psycho, and North by Northwest, had a huge impact. Bass left us with a completely different and entirely new style that summarized the meaning of the movies in a symbolic language using basic colors and geometric shapes. His style helped to make these directors famous and to keep the films living in the memory of viewers.
The neorealist posters for post-war Italian films date from the same period, where tempera, oil, acrylic or watercolors and sometimes soft tones, sometimes contrasted between warm saturated, cool and black tones were used in Costumbrist stories with the idea of sweetening the reality of that time. The poster for Bicycle Thieves by the artist Ercole Brini stands out as an example.
From the 1960s onwards, with the advent of television, studios had to make efforts in more ambitious film projects to try to get viewers into the cinemas. At that time designers were inspired by realism and used techniques such as airbrushing, with artists such as Philip Castle achieving realistic images with a lot of detail, as in the poster for Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.
Finally, from the 1980s onwards, illustration practically disappeared in favor of photography. Posters began to share similar compositions in which the protagonist, the cast of actors, a scene from the film, among other elements, took center stage.
Minimalism in movie posters
We have already seen how the genius Saul Bass applied his minimalist tendencies to his posters. Bass was able to capture the essence of the whole film to make memorable posters that have survived the passage of time.
Although we are currently in an era of leaving minimalism behind, with design trends seeking to make more elaborate pieces, this type of style is still very current and the “Less is more” aphorism of the architect Mies Van Der Rohe continues to have loyal followers who argue that eliminating superfluous elements that are heavy on the eye makes the content stand out and the message more penetrating.
Minimalist graphic design follows the style’s own characteristics: abstraction, economy of language, structural and functional purism, order, reduction, synthesis, simplicity, and concentration.
Even so, you don’t see too many minimalist posters among those chosen by film production companies to promote their films. But this lack is being covered by different independent designers who carry out exercises and take on the challenge of minimizing posters to capture the essence of the film, and social networks such as Behance or Pinterest are filled with works of art, many of which improve on the original.
As an example, take a look at some minimalist film posters and their comparison with the original.
Here’s another article where you can see more ingenious examples of minimalist posters reinterpreting Oscar-winning films.
In the different examples, we’re sharing you can see that these minimalist posters take special care with the chromatic range and contrasts, the white space, and the composition to achieve visual balance, as well as using simple geometric shapes, playing with the characteristics of fonts, and using clear and concise messages. They usually use silhouettes of characters and/or landscapes and play with the negative.
Minimalist posters base their strength on a concept that is often even more appealing after the film has already been seen because they usually base part of their appeal on turning the viewer into an accomplice. A good way to understand a minimalist poster is to put it in context with a series of posters of the same style, either from the same film or from different films.
And what about you? Would you dare to think of your favorite film and make your own version of a minimalist poster? We’ll be keeping a good eye on your work to see what you come up with.