There are many ways to induce travel dreams, and graphic designers in the poster and other visual areas have to hit upon the one that most effectively meets the client’s needs (and at the same time satisfying the artist’s comprehensive motives). In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Danish artist, Otto Nielsen, seems to have come upon the right stuff to increase passenger figures on Scandinavian Airlines.
The choice of including wild animals native to travel destinations was a stroke of, if not genius, attentiveness to the ways our affections work. Such creatures can function as deep reservoirs of energy and grace—ideals, that is, which most of us long for. I think a major reason for the the successes of Nielsen’s campaign for SAS is that personal investment in the mood of vibrant mystery.
Most of the renditions of the animal figures and their environment speak to an additive of sight-seer-friendly handsomeness. The client clearly does not want to go far overboard in promising exotic excitement to vacationers. Nielsen’s campaign implies a sort of nature preserve adjacent to a luxury hotel.
Here is an enticement (perhaps in conjunction with the pin-up) plunging into the zone of real wilderness experience, with a premium upon power and inflected sheen. Not for everyone—hence you might suppose SAS to be willing to test the waters for a more youthful and venturesome market.
So 60’s, in its premium upon country-club, jazz-era enjoyments. It is the stylistic smartness of these African creatures which takes command in the approach to an area that could be less than trouble-free. All the calculation aside, Nielsen’s color-sense asserts the priority of a walk on the wild side.
To cue up further editions of the survey of travel poster graphics, here we have the masterful Roger Broders, from the early 1930’s. The landscape is North African (with perhaps a soupcon of Sicily off on the horizon, and the French flag dancing in the Mediterranean breeze); and the action is almost entirely European. And the color sense, composition and modelling are—calculations aside—a breath of the celestial.