The poster is a fairly young format, only having truly existed for 150 years, but over this century and a half it has transformed the world around us and how we see it.
Printing has existed as an art form since 200AD in the form of woodblock and woodcut printings, which essentially worked like stamps, where ink is added to a block and it is then either stamped or rubbed onto a piece of paper or cloth.
Colour printing technically existed as early as woodblock did, however, because the process would often involve using multiple stamps or plates, it was often prohibitively expensive, and physically carving a design into a woodblock.
It would take until the invention of lithography in 1796 before posters could be printed feasibly, and then the following invention of chromolithography in 1837.
Both involved painting onto a stone with a greasy crayon or other substance, which is then moistened with water and then oil-based ink is rolled onto it which stuck to the grease, followed by a piece of paper which transfers the ink across.
It still was complex, but it allowed for much cheaper and more vibrant poster printing services to exist by the end of the century. Jules Chéret, a french lithographer, took advantage of the technique to create beautiful, vibrant posters that reflect the optimism and free spirit of late 1800s France.
His advertising, particularly his use of free-spirited female subjects at a time when that was not the norm had a major effect on French culture. This was to the point that when women were able to take part in activities previously seen as taboo in Paris they were called Cherettes.
Because of this, Chéret himself has been called both the father of the modern poster and the father of women’s liberation.