Warsaw Xmas poster goes viral as Polish cities clamber to get on design bandwagon
A poster inspired by the classic designs of the mid-20th century Polish School of Posters has been chosen by Warsaw as its annual Christmas poster - and has now inspired other cities to get creative with their own in response.
Designed by graphic designer and illustrator Ola Jasniowska, the poster presents a festive scene of five ice skaters skating a frozen pond in Warsaw’s Saxon Garden, with the park’s distinctive water tower in the background.
The simple primary colour palette comprised of red, white and blue draws inspiration from the minimalist, pared-back style of posters created by artists from the Polish School of Posters between the 1960s and 1980s.
Posters of the school were famous for their symbolic and iconic aesthetic style, with clear images which were often meant to be metaphorical or ironic, illustrated using bold colours and often with slogans or captions making creative use of fonts.
Warsaw’s Christmas poster is crowned by a capitalised form of the city’s polish name ‘WARSZAWA’ , with a caption at the bottom of the poster reading “To Everyone, without exception, best wishes”.
After being published by Warsaw City Hall on its social media, the design sparked a raft of opinions from internet users and quickly inspired other cities to jump on the trend and create their own designs alluding to Warsaw’s interpretation and the golden era of Polish poster art.
The first to take up the idea was the city of Łódź. A clear allusion to Warsaw’s poster though the use of the same colour palette, Lódź’s effort features three unicorns beneath the city’s characteristic monument of Tadeusz Kosciuszko with the title “Swiętuj po Łódz-ku” (Celebrate in Lódź-style) and the wishes: “The most beautiful Christmas is spent in Łódź”.
Next to follow was Szczecin, whose poster features a large tin of their cult ‘Paprykasz’ , a popular spicy tinned fish conserve invented in the 1960s, of which the city also has a monument, and the jagged outline of the city’s philharmonic hall with some cranes in the background, with wishes of a ‘Tasty Christmas’.
With the trend spreading, Koszalin styled their poster in a similar way, with a pond and ice skaters, but also children throwing snowballs and building a snowman.
The city used its festive poster to advertise a visit to the Polish seaside, writing: “Maybe a trip to the sea? Wishing you deep breaths at Christmas”.
The poster from another seaside town, Darłowo, features an anonymous outline of a Santa Claus figure by the sea, with a lighthouse visible in the background and a yacht and seagulls.
It followed Koszalin in inviting visitors to come and spend some time by the sea, with the caption “Everyone, without exception, best wishes and welcome to the sea, not only for Christmas!”.
Most recently, on the 13th of December, the western Polish town of Wałbrzych joined the initiative with the city’s president revealing its poster featuring their best known tourist site, Książ Castle, set against a wintery scene and some mountains.
In reference to the city’s connections with coal mining, a coal bagger machine is visible in the distance above the slogan “Swiętuj jak Książe, Biesiaduj jak Górnik” (Celebrate like a Prince, Feast like a Miner), a humourous play on words, as ‘Książe’ in Polish means prince and alludes to aristocrats who used to live in Książ Castle.
The original Polish School of Posters movement movement was pioneered by professors Henryk Tomaszewski and Józef Mroszczak.
Other prominent artists associated with the school included Wojciech Fangor, Franciszek Starowieyski, Andrzej Pągowski, Jan Młodożeniec and Andrzej Krajewski.
Today, a large collection of posters of the Polish Poster School are housed in the Polish Poster Museum in Warsaw’s royal Wilanów Palace, which, when it opened in 1968, was the first poster museum in the world.