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Vintage Travel Prints By Petrus Martens

The South Haven Center for the Arts welcomes colorful vintage-style travel posters created by Petrus Martens to the 2020 Mistletoe Market Virtual Artist & Artisan Gallery.

Petrus began drawing at a young age and grew up in the Caribbean, lived in Florida and New York City, and eventually settled in East Lansing, Michigan, never expecting the beauty of Michigan’s lakes and shores. Fascinated with water, he says the Great Lakes remind him of any tropical location in the world.

Petrus travels the Great Lakes region illustrating and photographing on-location, then digitally draws and combines color and vintage fonts to create travel prints resembling advertising posters from bygone eras. Inspiration for his work springs from his combined fascination of locale, the composition of his subject matter, color, fonts, and the craftsmanship employed in the foregone era of screen printing and printmaking.

The colors resemble old stone lithography—the use of two or three colors. He creates his digital drawings using a color table of up to ten inks (the colors can’t be created using just primary colors) to create high-quality archival pigment prints in palettes of purples, violets, oranges, and blues.

Petrus notes that some of his prints, like "Sleeping Bear Dunes," are starting to become more simple, using two colors, which is meant to resemble four colors that are actually printed on a two-color press. "I am always trying to improve to make a piece resemble something vintage and authentic."

Font choice also plays a large role in each piece to re-create the effect of a vintage advertising poster from the early 20th century. Petrus graphically manipulates traditional fonts to resemble authentic period fonts that match the era each piece represents. He favors early- and mid-century poster stylings, especially those from the 1930s. He spoke of a documentary called Helvetica that describes how subconsciously fonts have an important impact on how people react to this visual cue.

Scaling and layout of fonts are also important, especially in relation to more than one font. “It’s a challenge, because you can ruin something with the wrong font in relation to an image, but there is always that magical moment when I know I’ve got the right font and scaling to complement my subject.”

Petrus notes that in early century prints by French poster artists, the foregrounds of scenes with great depth like landscapes and seascapes are often framed with foliage and shadow.

Visit the market to purchase vintage prints from Petrus for someone on your gift list or to enjoy his unique work in your own home. You can also view Petrus' work at, on Instagram: @martensprintworks or Facebook: Martens Printworks.

Happy shopping and happy holidays!

The South Haven Center for the Arts thanks Petrus for his contribution to the 2020 Mistletoe Market Virtual Artist & Artisan Gallery, and for helping the art center continue to further its mission of enriching our community through the arts.

The 2020 Mistletoe Market Artist & Artisan Gallery was made possible by the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, and sponsored by South Haven’s Hardt Insurance and the Edward Jones Office of Paul Hix.

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