It was with a frantic pace I headed to the library the day before this research assignment was due. I had put my time and effort into studying one of my favorite designer/skateboarders and was so caught up in my passion for his work I had glazed over the assignment requirements. So, with little time to spare I went to the New York Public Library on 23rd street that had yet to open. Now, even more frantic than before, I hastened down to the SVA library to search for something that would at least catch my eye and meet the requirements. With the help of one of the workers who took pity on me and she found me stumbling through the periodicals, I found the Graphis magazines and picked out 1952 for no reason other than that was the year my father was born and seemed like a good a year as any. As luck would have it, I stumbled onto my new favorite graphic artist: Raymond Savignac. The moment I saw his poster OCÉANIC “LE SEUL À SERVO-RÉGLEUR” I knew I would be hooked on his work. His style is simple, humorous, works in color as well as in black and white. Being that his work is in French it is basically cryptic to me, but just by the imagery alone I can decipher some meaning. Aside from that aesthetically it works beautifully. “The important thing is not to dazzle your neighbor, but rather to avoid blinding yourself,” he was once quoted saying. Using clever visuals that are simple but smart was his trademark and it made his career. Despite challenges along the way he established himself as a pioneer in poster design during his time.
Savignac was born on November 6, 1907 in Paris. He originally dreamed of becoming a professional cyclist but those dreams later gave way when at age 15 he quit school to become a draftsman. Finding this miserable, he began making caricature drawings and would spend evenings in his parentâ€™s restaurant drawing the customers. Eventually, he grew distraught by the lack of his professional success and showed some of his work to the artistic director Cassandre inquiring as to whether he should continue to work in commercial design. Cassandre liked the work and hired Savignac to create a poster and brochure. This led to many more projects between the two and the door had been opened for Savignac to pursue commercial art professionally.
When war had broken out Savignac was drafter in 1939 and served briefly in the French army as a secretary postman. After the war, with the mood in France being optimistic and consumerism grabbing hold, the timing was perfect for Savignacâ€™s lighthearted and witty posters. In 1965, he made what is quite possibly his most famous work, a Yoplait poster with a cow making the yogurt as it squirts out of its udders into yogurt containers. Savignacâ€™s art was great in that it was for everyone. Many could appreciate what he was trying to say without having to be a high art fan or well versed in visual communication. His work has influenced many artists to come, now including myself. With a career that spanned 50 years he completed more than 600 posters. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 94.
Sources Bruggisser, Thomas, Michel Fries, Andreas Berg, and Catherine Schelbert. Super, Welcome to Graphic Wonderland. Berlin: Die Gestalten, 2003. Print. Guerin, Robert. “Savignac, Recent Posters.” Graphis Jan. 1952: 1217. Print. Savignac, Raymond, and Mikado Koyanagi. Savinyakku Posutā A - Z. Tōkyō: Anonima Sutajio, 2007. Print. “Raymond Savignac.” Iconofgraphics.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.
Cigarettes Collie. 1962.
Chris Miller Paul Shaw/History of Graphic Design 2014