Tart Cards: London’s Illicit Advertising Art

In London, more money is spent on sex than going the cinema. Tart cards are the means by which prostitutes advertise, and they have become as ubiquitous a symbol of that city as the red telephone booths in which they are found. Since the early 1980s these advertising cards, posted in public phone booths around London, have evolved with printing technology into a sophisticated graphic and sociological form. While illegal, about 13 million cards are distributed each year. More than 350 contemporary and historic tart cards are illustrated in color in this book.

In addition, every page of text, including the wittily-designed chapter openers, contains a riot of colorful detail from the cards. The book also contains an eye-opening, comprehensive glossary of the suggestive and coded language they use. Some people find the cards offensive, other amusing; but for the prostitutes and their customers they are a commercial necessity.

For anyone interested in graphic design the cards form a microcosm of evolving style, taste and technique in design. Tart cards are now a recognized art form and are collected by institutions and individuals worldwide. Love them or loath then, tart cards are an intriguing slice of the social and commercial history of sex.

Tart Cards Available on Amazon.com

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