Imaginary Interview with Alphonse Mucha

Q: Today we are here with the iconic artist most notable during the Art Nouveau period of 1890-1910, Alphonse Mucha. In your early career as an artist, you were just illustrating for magazines and advertisements until your big break with “Gismonda”. Could you tell us a bit about that job?

Poster for "Gismonda", Alphonse Mucha 1894
Poster for “Gismonda”, Alphonse Mucha 1894

A: Well, Sarah was a popular French stage actress and my biggest muse. I first met her in 1894 when I was still illustrating for odd jobs. She called the printing company I was helping out at demanding a rush order for a poster for her new production, “Gismonda”. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time for me, since all the regular artists were out on vacation and I was like a last resort to get the job done. Needless to say, the poster jump started my career and the rest is history.

Q: What do you think it is that made your work stand out from the crowd of other Parisian artists?

A: I believe my style to be very eye-catching due to the limited palette, flat colours, and of course, the organic and floral motifs combined with beautiful women. My style is very new and unique for the time, and I’m sure will carry on for years to come.

Q: Why do you rely so heavily on featuring women in your work?

A: During this time, society was very masculine and harsh. I wanted to go against that with the complete opposite: femininity, beauty, and sex appeal. They add another element of delicacy and felinity to the floral motif.

Q: Would you ever considering featuring men in your work?

A: Like I said, I don’t want to add to the macho images of men fighting in wars at the time, but I did do some nationalist pieces later in my career: “Poster for the 8th Sokol Festival Prague 1926” in 1925 uses my typical style of organic and floral images, but is not as successful with depictions of strong men instead of dainty women.

"Poster for the 8th Sokol festival Prague 1926", Alphonse Mucha 1925
“Poster for the 8th Sokol festival Prague 1926”, Alphonse Mucha 1925

Q: What would you say to critics that refer to your work as shallow or simply decorative, like with your series “The Flowers” in 1898?

"The Flowers", Alphonse Mucha 1897
“The Flowers”, Alphonse Mucha 1897

A: Decorative, perhaps. I believe art should add beauty to the world. I’ve heard critics accuse me of using women as just another form of decoration along with the flowers, but I disagree. My style is best suited for elegant images, not crowded streets or a day in the park like my counterparts. I want to walk the street and see my posters adding beauty to the sidewalk. If art is ugly, who would want it?

Q: Why would you want your artwork to be featured on commercial or household products instead of galleries?

A: I want beauty to be in people’s everyday lives, not just for the rich that can afford it. I believe that art can improve peoples lives and morals. Even if there is no deeper meaning behind a piece, just looking at something stunning can lift one’s spirits and inspire them to add something positive to the world. Why should only a select few people get to experience something amazing?

Q: Why do you think your art is suited for graphic design?

A: Although my pieces are very ornamental and detailed, they still feature some very graphic elements, like the bold line work and flat colours. I keep the design elements in mind as I go about creating an illustration, and keep typography in mind. For company products, I always incorporate the company’s name or initials in the background so that the piece is unified.

Q: What kind of products have your designs been featured on?

A: Almost anything! I am most known for my posters and advertisements, but I did a lot of work for perfume bottles and biscuit wrappers. Imitations of my work have also been seen on other household products like tea and soap. My style makes these products stand out on a shelf in the shop, which makes the company happy, thus making me very happy!

Q:  Which product do you feel featured your best work?

A: That would have to be a piece i did for JOB cigarette papers. It featured my signature floral motifs and beautiful woman, combined with the smoke of a cigarette. But she’s not just puffing away like a chimney–she appears sensual and alluring, with the smoke and her hair flowing around her. It was so elegant that the viewer would forget that it was for a cigarette company!

"JOB", Alphonse Mucha 1896
“JOB”, Alphonse Mucha 1896

Q: Your work was seen everywhere during your time, and even saw its revival during the 1960’s Art Nouveau revival. The style was and still is unique, distinguishable, and of course, beautiful.



Works Cited

Alphonse Mucha Artist Overview and Analysis”. [Internet]. 2018.
Content compiled and written by Jen Farren
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Ellen Hurst
Available from:
[Accessed 12 Jan 2018

Foundation, Mucha. “Poster for “Gismonda” – Sarah Bernhardt.” Mucha Foundation,

Rowland, Hazel. “More to Mucha than meets the eye – or is there?” Apollo Magazine, 1 Nov. 2016,


What would a graphic design sound like? Or smell like? Or taste like? Or feel like? Or move like?

Synesthesia is the condition where one physical sensation evokes another; it is often described as hearing color or tasting shapes. Choose a historical graphic design that is representative of a style or movement (such as Art Nouveau, Swiss style, psychedelic, etc.) and translate its visual characteristics and principles into another sense (sound, movement, taste, smell, or touch). Include a paragraph explaining how the visual qualities of the style or movement are expressed in another sense.

Here’s something to inspire you (click on the link):

Fortunato Depero, Simultaineita' Giroplastiche, 1914
Fortunato Depero, Simultaineita’ Giroplastiche, 1914

How has historical graphic design influenced later design?

First, show a typical example of an influential historical design or style. Then, show an example that is inspired by the first example (it can even be your own work). Include an explanation of how and why the later design is inspired by the earlier design.

Here’s an example (visuals only) to inspire you:

Hans Neuburg, Konstruktive Grafik poster, 1958
Hans Neuburg, Konstruktive Grafik poster, 1958
Mike Joyce (Swissted), Killing Joke poster, 1982
Mike Joyce (Swissted), Killing Joke poster, 1982

Which historical designer would you most like to interview?

“Interview” a graphic designer from the past about one of their projects, getting the facts about the commission, noting the project’s restrictions and requirements, as well as the designer’s intentions, viewpoint, and thoughts on their product. The interview should be approximately 750 words (in Q & A format) and include relevant images.

Here’s an inspiration:

Miguel Covarrubias, "Impossible Interview: Stalin Versus Schiaparelli," June, 1936
Miguel Covarrubias, “Impossible Interview: Stalin Versus Schiaparelli,” June, 1936

Can you summarize a historical period in a six-word design?

Choose an era (such as the Victorian period, WWII, the 1960s, etc.) and summarize it in six meaningful words whose design accurately evokes the era.

Here’s your inspiration:

Arthur C. Clarke told this anecdote about his friend, the famous short-story author Ernest Hemingway.  Hemingway was bet $10 that he could not write a story in only six words. This is what Hemingway wrote: