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Advertising Illustration

( Originally Published 1898 )



The use of illustrations in advertising is becoming more and more general and more and more intelligent.

The English are great admirers of what they call "blocks" in their advertising, and have always used more and better illustrations than Americans have.

The stiff, old, stereotyped wood cut, representing a watch, or a shoe, or a trunk, has been out of use with us only a few years. Such cuts are used even now in many places.

I am not sure that Wanamaker originated the use of artistic outline cuts in advertising, but it is certain that the Wanamaker cuts have had a great influence on advertisement illustrating.

Their chief merit lies in the fact that they show the article pictured as it looks in actual use. If the advertisement is about shoes, the picture is of a man pulling on an easy shoe, or of a dainty, stylish woman lifting a pretty and shapely foot.

The illustrations are always suggestive and always well drawn.

I may as well say here that I do not think much of the alleged humorous cuts that are used more or less all over the country—the ones which run to puns and "cuteness." They may attract attention, but attracting attention isn't the best an ad can do. A comic cut isn't convincing. It doesn't tell anything, or prove any-thing, about the man or the goods advertised. I don't believe such ads sell goods.

The English idea is very largely the use of some pretty picture, irrespective of its subject, or its relation to the thing advertised. The idea in this case also is to attract attention. I think it is wrong. A cut should be used merely to illustrate the advertisement, and not as the advertisement itself. Illustration should be subordinate. In ordinary, daily newspaper advertising the cut should be small. I like outline cuts about an inch to an inch and a half wide with reading matter set down one side. Generally speaking, I would not have more than three display lines in the ad, and more often only two—the head line and the name of the advertiser. And the name should be smaller than the head line.



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