The Art of Propaganda Posters

12Nov08

Intrigued by the graphic style in Obama’s Posters I couldn’t help it but think that this poster was somewhat similar to some old war propaganda posters from Russia, Germany and The United States. Although the colors are different, the simplistic style is certainly comparable to these old posters.
The simple word ‘Progress’ is also characterizing for a propaganda poster.

Take a look at some amazingly cool propaganda posters below Obama’s poster.

obama1

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5 Responses to “The Art of Propaganda Posters”

  1. i’ve been keeping up on your blog entries and i find them very amusing :)
    i’m a psychology major and find an interest in the way things are made, how people perceive them, etc…and i’ve noticed your blog contains mainly that type of subject matter. kudos to you! it’s all very interesting. just thought i’d let you know.

  2. 2 Barry

    Thanks for the comment Chelsea, I’m honored.

  3. It’s a good illustration about how people in specific cultural regions are unconsciously aware of the history of graphic design, and ‘read’ it in very specific ways. Here (at least through my 49-year-old US eyes) I see several key things:
    – the return to the flat color and bold lines that was produced during the first wave great ‘merging’ of commercial, avant-garde and other creatives in the propaganda effort for WWI; this continued for at least two decades; I think this is why you immediately associate it with those Soviet and other posters, even though in fact, graphically, it does not really resemble many of them, when you look closely (especially at the illustration style).
    – the visual language walks a fine line – it’s associated with a heroic past in which the US ‘pulled together’ as a nation. Specifically, the WPA posters in the 1930’s used similar two- and three-tone illustration styles. (This continued through WWII). But similar graphics have also been used most recently in far-left expressions which are absolutely rejected by most US citizens (think of the Che Guevara posters). It’s interesting that a message of radical change can be merged with positive values from an earlier period of national propaganda, without being attacked as ‘radical leftist’. Probably shows a shift among the audience: younger people who have less categorical views (and memory) of these movements, and older voters who really ARE ready for a change and DO remember periods in which there was more public discipline and solidarity (childhood during WWII, for example). So they associate this with ‘public interest and education graphics’.
    Amazing how much of the impact of design is unconscious, and how it can fine-tune a message in such a seemingly straightforward design.
    The best – really the only – book on this topic is ‘A Critical History of Graphic Design’ by Johanna Drucker and Emily McVarish. Highly recommended.

    Chelsea – you should visit the school if you’re in the Netherlands – we’ll show you around :)

  4. 4 Barry

    Great reply there Jim. And i will defiantly read that book!

  5. i found this on John D! ‘s flickr.com account-
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/joefxd/2648231908/?addedcomment=1#comment72157612485098172
    ( …after first finding his Obama-ized version of Doctor Doom from Marvel Comics.)
    it raised a question of association with me that led me to your blog. i very much appreciate what Jim had to say pertaining to this subject. thanks for the blog.


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