Atelier Populaire – Research
May 1968 was the start for a graphic uprising in France, there was anonymous posters all over the streets of Paris these posters were being produced by workers and students who were protesting against the everyday employment and poverty that was rising under the consecutive government of Charles de Gaulle. There was no formal organisations behind the uprising, but these groups were normally made up from everyday people that had become simply pushed to far. In Paris on May the 16th 1968 students and faculty took over the Ecole des b Beaux Arts, to create the studio known as the Atelier Populaire in translation ‘the Popular Workshop’ this small organisation became responsible for the graphic posters, they produced them out of the studio by using only ink and a silkscreen printing, the method was to use political graphic art to portray a message and wanted to gain more arms for their cause in fact these posters were even quoted to be ‘“weapons in service of the struggle” by Atelier Populaire. Their method was to produce as many posters as they could to scream their messages, these posters would be put all over the streets of Paris, but for many at Atelier popular that was the soul purpose and what I like is that the artists till this day haven’t come forward and tried to claim their work and many Atelier Populaire hoped the posters to be worthless ,discardable, just cheap productions. It is estimated that Atelier Populaire created around 200 to 300 images and produced hundred to thousands of posters, their reasons for choosing a poster format was that it was the only way of communicating without the interference from Gaulle’s government, but these posters are now very powerful pieces in today graphic design and very hard to find, they are only found in France by either booksellers or in flea markets in Paris.
Images of Atelier Populaire workshop
Some great examples of Atelier Populaire posters
‘The title of this poster is Free Information, and its double entendre is breathtaking. Is the poster a poke at a self-censored press that tows the government line and offers people false “Free Information”? Or does the graphic portray a free press held hostage and in need of liberation? Note that even the cord on the microphone is tied in a knot, implying the choking off of reliable news reporting.’
‘In order to contain the widening popular revolt, pro-government goon squads were formed composed of right-wing workers and off duty policemen. They continually assaulted demonstrators and organizers, infiltrated and broke up political meetings and rallies, and attempted by wholesale thuggery to intimidate sympathizers of the uprising. This poster mocked one aggressive right-wing group, the Civic Action, for being “Fascist Vermin.’
What has Atelier Populaire shown me?
Atelier Populaire has shown me how communication can be produced imeadatly, that all it has to do is express and communicate, it doesn’t have to be perfect all the time that it can be low budget and cheap, that it can be made with raw materials and still have an impact on the out side world. It also has shown me how creative people can be resourceful, think on their feet and gives them a voice, it has also shown me that some small things can be pushed into greater things, another aspect Atelier Popular has shown me is how not all work should be claimed that it only belongs with that period and its made to be discarded which has some attraction to me, the idea that one man took time to produce hundreds of posters with ink and a silkscreen really is phenomenal, to me reading and seeing images from Atelier Populaire shows a more raw side to graphic communication and in my eyes it is truly refreshing to see it that it has more of a human touch to it.
What did I like about Atelier Populaire?
I really like the style of the Atelier Populaire, I think the loose cartoony style with that feel of the streets really captures a raw feeling, I think it has some powerful imagery within the work, with a great humanist typography it really adds to the poster designs gives its a sense of a human within the design, rather than traditional printing ways. I also like the thought that these posters were produced just for the revolution that was made cheaply for that purpose and that the artists who produced the posters haven’t come forward and claimed their work which shows the true intentions and beliefs of the artists of that time in France, but I view these posters as great pieces of graphic communication.