There’s something enchanting about staying in a chalet: the roaring fire and snow-capped mountain backdrop makes it feel as if you’re posing for an old-fashioned Christmas card. When styling our Swiss Alps chalet for the Autumn Lookbook, there was only one piece of art we wanted on the wooden panelled walls that could capture this nostalgia: vintage skiing posters. Skiing for pleasure became a popular pastime for the wealthy in the early 20th century, so artists were commissioned to create posters advertising the resorts that could be displayed in travel agents. The Art Deco designs perfectly reflect the glamour of the era, evoking that sense of adventure and escapism that a skiing holiday represented. With this in mind, we spoke to Georgina Khachadourian of Pullman Editions (who provided the Art Deco resort posters used in our shoot) to find out a little bit more about these beautiful artworks.
Tell us about Pullman Editions...
My husband, Simon Khachadourian, founder of the Pullman Gallery, has dealt in important original vintage posters for over 30 years. Having seen the prices of Art Deco posters dramatically increase over the last decade or so, we saw a gap in the market for more affordable decorative posters – but not reproductions - that incorporate the iconic design elements from the 1920s and 1930s, which are so sought-after. This led us to launch Pullman Editions in 2010. As we design and commission the artworks for our limited-edition posters, we are able to bring them up-to-date in terms of both colour palette and what they are depicting (there are many ski resorts that are very popular now but didn’t exist back in the 1920s, like Verbier or Courchevel for example).
What is a typical day like in your job?
We have clients all over the world, so on a daily basis are dealing with all kinds of enquiries ranging from VAT and shipping for export orders to large orders for hotels and interior designers. As we are constantly commissioning new artworks, there is always work to be done with designing new collections, finding inspiration, and deciding what will and won’t be included. We obviously do a lot of print advertising, so have to keep on top of copy deadlines, and make sure that we monitor what’s working best for us. We also keep meticulous records of all our sales, in order to know exactly who has each numbered poster, so there is a fair amount of admin involved in maintaining our database. As the old adage goes, it’s 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration – even in a creative industry like ours!
What inspired you to start your own business?
Prior to launching Pullman Editions with Simon in 2010, I spent ten years in the City developing marketing strategies for small businesses, so I’ve been able to apply many of those skills to our poster business. Starting my own business is something I’d always wanted to do, and I love the creativity involved in designing the poster collections and the marketing thereof.
When did the trend for vintage posters re-emerge?
Art Deco as an art form has never really gone out of fashion, although it is perhaps more mainstream now than ever before. Vintage posters have become very valuable in recent years, which quite simply has to do with supply and demand - there are many new collectors entering the field, and because there is only a finite supply of advertising posters produced ‘in period’ that have survived, the inevitable result is that prices have grown steadily. It is hard to say whether the trend for vintage posters has increased because of the increased values, or whether increased interest has led to higher values; it’s probably a bit of both.
What's the inspiration behind your designs?
Inspiration often comes from vintage posters, but sometimes it can come from less obvious things like architecture or old photographs. All of our artists have a passion for their subject, whether it’s skiing, travel or cars, and this shines through in their work. All of the artworks are hand-painted, much in the same way as they were back in the Art Deco period – none of our artists work digitally, unlike so many modern artists.
Can you explain to us a little bit about the poster making process?
The original poster artwork is about half the size of a poster and is painted using gouache and water colours on art board, in the same manner as the great 'posterists' of 80-100 years ago. A high res scan is taken of this artwork, which is used to print the lithographs, using traditional presses. The posters are printed using 100% cotton fine art paper, which is quite simply the very best quality available (vastly superior to vintage posters, which of course were never intended to last more than a few weeks). Each poster is hand-numbered and embossed with our stamp of authenticity.
What’s your favourite poster from the whole collection and why?
The Route du Soleil by Charles Avalon, which features a Ferrari Daytona. It reminds me of driving holidays spent with my husband in the South of France, albeit in a different car!
Which is the most popular poster amongst your customers?
Our overall best-selling poster is L’Été sur la Côte d’Azur, depicting the legendary 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider on a quayside in the South of France, probably because aside from being a wonderful sunny feel-good image, it incorporates all the elements of a great Art Deco poster – stylised lettering, a Riva motorboat, and a California Ferrari.
Do customers request posters of specific places? Have you created any one off commissions?
All the time - we often have requests for a favourite car, ski resort or holiday destination. We always take note of customers’ requests and this informs future collections. We have created a handful of one-off commissions, usually for corporations rather than private individuals, as it’s pretty expensive to commission an original artwork.
What designs/locations can we look forward to from upcoming collections?
Rather than focusing on a ‘theme’ as we have done with previous collections, the next collection will incorporate a variety of different resorts and activities, including Austrian ski resorts St. Anton and Kitzbühel, and a cycling poster depicting the legendary route of Mount Ventoux, in the South of France. Watch this space!
Are you more fond of the summer or winter collections, and why?
If I had to choose between the two I would say the summer posters, partly because of the decorative bright colours, but also because they transport you to another place, and represent memories of happy times spent on holiday. We do have winter sports posters at home too though – those depicting the grand 'palace' hotels of Gstaad and St. Moritz are so redolent of invigorating Alpine sunny days and cosy log fires in the evenings!
Are there any do’s and don’ts to remember when hanging or positioning framed posters in your home?
How to display art is a very personal thing, and there’s no right or wrong way of doing it. Posters, or indeed any other art, is a reflection of one’s personality and I think it’s fine to have an eclectic mix of styles in the same space – not everything needs to match. As a rule, I would always frame a poster using a window-mount, as this really sets the image off, but other than that, trust your instincts.
Georgina Khachadourian is the Managing Director of Pullman Editions (020 7730 0547, pullmaneditions.com), the leading specialist dealer in newly-commissioned Art Deco posters. Visit their studio at 94 Pimlico Road, Chelsea, London or go online to view the collection, priced at £395 each unframed.