Video Review: Restoring a Faded WWI Poster

Golden Age Illustration Golden Age Illustrators Golden Age of Illustration James Montgomery Flagg patriotic posters video review

I've discussed the topic of digital restoration many times, and I have quite a few videos showcasing how I do it, but what about non-digital restoration? What does the process look like when it is done directly on the artifact itself without the aid of low-risk intermediary technology like Photoshop?

It is these questions that made the above video, featuring the restoration of a faded WWI poster by James Montgomery Flagg, so fascinating to watch, mainly because it comes from a completely different perspective than mine. Here are a few highlights from the video that I found especially intriguing:

Red is the color that tends to fade the quickest. Why this is, I don't know, and I didn't hear anything about that in the video, but I think it's probably something to do with the intensity of those colors. At any rate, I always assumed that colors all faded equally, so it was interesting to hear that some colors fade at different rates.

The process was especially enlightening to watch as well as to hear explained. But because a picture is worth a thousand words, I especially appreciated watching the restoration as it unfolded.

And lastly, the signature. To restore something so detail-oriented is definitely something that requires a high degree of skill, and to watch him do it with such apparent effortlessness is a climactic moment in the video because it would only take one wrong stroke to ruin it. He does say he must have attended the same school as Flagg, and that's probably true, given that he's able to replicate those same brush strokes with that level of finesse. But even if he didn't, I think it's safe to say that he's just tremendously talented at what he does.

The last comment I have to make is really more of an important takeaway for anyone who buys art for display on their walls: Towards the end, the video also advises the use of UV plexiglass in frames to reduce fading.

In sum, I not only found this video entertaining, but I also found it very informative and educational, so definitely worth a watch.

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