Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Keep calm and carry on, war propaganda posters

I love this short film explaining the origins of the iconic poster Keep Calm and Carry on. Especially since typeface played a role, lol.

From the Youtube page's summary:
A short film that tells the story behind the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster. Its origins at the beginning of WWII and its rediscovery in a bookshop in England in 2000, becoming one of the iconic images of the 21st century. Film, music, script and narration by Temujin Doran. 
The commission was to create posters-

--uniform in style
--with a handsome typeface difficult for the enemy to counterfeit
--minimal graphic devices, deciding upon the crown of George the 6th as the only one

Propaganda posters are interesting. I particularly like the old Russian propaganda posters from a design point of view. Some of the other British posters also are graphically interesting.

The poster was made in 1941 by Irakli Toidze, a socialist realism artist, during the early days of the Great Patriotic War which is what Russians called WWII. It says Motherland Calls!

Russian posters always managed to convey strength.

This one is from Britain in WWI. Even though Russian posters were very graphic and static with one dominant image, they also always managed to convey movement. Even though this poster from Britain in WWI depicts a moving horse, the sense of movement is strangely absent.

Russia/Soviets had the best posters. The coolest. I mean, really, Isn't this one below just sumptuous?! Talk about movement, strength and delicacy in one swoop! I was unable to discover what the promotion was, perhaps the space race?

And this is just gorgeous. See what I mean about movement? Using the piano cover as the graceful backdrop conveys immediately what the poster is about and the swoop of the cover gives that sense of movement even though pianos are heavy and black.

Russian/Soviet posters combined strength and delicacy all at once; an immediately identifiable message, and in good colors, without being garish.

As for Britain's Keep Calm & Carry On and their ilk, war posters in general, can you imagine a designer tapped to produce a message in print that will help the citizenry during war? What a high duty!

I am not a good designer but I love looking at good design. Posters are an incredible world of study, beauty, message, and history all at once. I wish I had lots more time to study them, but meanwhile, I'm glad I can just enjoy.

This one advertises, "books in all fields of knowledge", Lilya Brik in Alexander Rodchenko’s poster for the Soviet publisher Gosizdat, 1924.


Of course we all remember the gorgeous cruise line posters from the Art Deco period, those were luscious too. As were travel posters advertising skiing in the Alps, Dolomites, etc. But that's another chapter in the story of graphic design!

1 comment:

Grace to You said...

What an interesting read! I had no idea the Keep Calm and Carry On poster had any history...I like it much better now. :)