The history of flyer design can be traced back as far as the 16th century to a method of promotion which in itself is a centuries old art and takes the form of poster design. With an improvement in lithograph printing came the birth of the colourful poster as a method to astound as well as advertise. From Toulouse-Lautrec’s first poster, Moulin Rouge to Alphonse Mucha, a Czech living in Paris who designed the first Art Noveau poster the poster was now to be appreciated as a piece of fine art. Between the end of the 18th century and the end of World War II there had been many highly successful and prominent uses of the poster design in promoting everything from Absinthe in Paris, bullfighting in Spain, The Circus in the UK to American conscription with the inspired “I want you” Uncle Sam posters.
In the sixties the flyer design began as a colourful and popular method of mass advertising for those promoters on a low budget and became increasingly popular as psychedelic imagery was incorporated into the design to promote bands The Rolling Stones, The Doors and Pink Floyd.
From the idealistic and mind altering imagery of the 60s came the photocopied and anarchic punk flyers used by punk bands in Britain such as The Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks. America had its own hardcore punk scene to design for and had flyers promoting The Ramones and The New York Dolls amongst many others. The designs seemed to fit the mood as monotone designs using ripped pages and imagery of DM boots and mohican haired punks were distributed amongst the punk population.
With the birth of electronic dance music came a new wave of design which would lead to the flyer design of the present day. Taking inspiration from the Ecstasy fueled nights and early mornings of raves across Britain the designs usually took the form of hedonistic and surreal imagery with large use of colour.Everything from 3D vectors to fractal shapes were mixed with staring eyes and dancing figures to promote events such as Fantazia, Amnesia and Rezurrection. A spiritual element pervaded across a lot of these early rave flyer designs.
And so to the present where flyer and poster design is now more popular and accessible as it ever has been. Flyers are designed using a mixture of traditional and modern art and feature in galleries and exhibitions across the world. The club flyer is more popular now as a method of promoting your event or in conveying your message to the public in the most colourful and informative way possible. Until the purely digital flyer can replace the printed flyer in accessibility and popularity, flyer design and printing is alive and well.