On Saturday, me and a couple of Uni friends travelled down to London to visit the British Library to see an exhibition called Propaganda: Power and Persuasion. As a huge fan of Propaganda Art, I was looking forward to our trip very much in the weeks approaching our trip. The imagery for the exhibition was the iconic ‘Uncle Sam’ from the famous ‘I want you’ posters that were used in both the first and second world war. After talking about Alfred Leete & James Montgomery Flagg in a previous ITAP blog post, I was intrigued to see which other pieces of Propaganda art were being exhibited.

The first piece I noticed on display that I really liked was an Occupy poster titled ‘Fightback Worldwide’.



With many pieces of Propaganda Art being created by Governments and Organisations, it is hard to find any real solid Information about the pieces, so I will have to give my opinion and delve in to what my thoughts mean. I really like the above piece; my attention was drawn to it because of it’s comic-illustrative style, which I very much like and one of the reasons I love Propaganda Art. The way in which the artist has drawn the hands overlapping the main title really gives the piece a element of power – with the female figures being central and very bold, and the strong two lines of title type, which our eye is immediately drawn to. The subtle lines of type, such as ‘Capitalism is the crisis’ and ‘The 99% have no borders’ give the reader more information. The colours of the shapes and background in the piece also contribute an awful lot to the feel, such as the warm, subtle changes from orange to yellow in the detail and the yellow swirling circle – that could represent the sun.

Moving around the exhibition and into the third section, I saw the pieces of artwork by James Montgomery Flagg. Being the head image of the whole exhibition, I was expecting to see this piece somewhere in the exhibition, and I wasn’t shock to see it as a huge metre long canvas.



One of the most powerful pieces of Propaganda Art ever, this piece is probably known by most of the people in the world – I know upon telling my non-design friends about my trip and when I told them about ‘I want you’ they all immediately knew what I was talking about. This artwork (as I have previously talked about) used the piece ‘Your Country Needs You’ (by Alfred Leete) as huge inspiration, and this only adds to the story of it’s use in propaganda. The above piece (in my opinion) is a better poster for recruitment as it more powerful due to its colour and composition. This probably is because the original by Alfred Leete was first printed on a Newspaper colour and was single tone, and was then developed into a poster by the print company using a second single colour. These were obviously printed in multiple colour – and the use of the bold red on the cream/white background really makes it stand out and eye-catching to the viewer. Again, the use of the strong figure, in this case Uncle Sam, engages with the reader and pushes the point a lot harder than if it was a random model.

The third piece I wish to describe is an ad for the US Government titeld’ U.S. Needs US Strong’, which is advertising ‘food’.



Originally, this piece and a single colour piece in the American Weekly, 1943. The image features Uncle Sam once again, which with the last piece of artwork, shows how highly the US people thought of him and what a huge figure he is in terms of the Propaganda. The poster was remade using the patriotic colours of the US flag (Blue, white and red). The piece also features a family of the two parents and a small child; another effect from the US Government to play on the readers heartstrings to engage them to listen and take in the advice of the poster. Something else I noticed on the original, was a line of type in Futura Italic – which has now become a greatly-used typeface in Propaganda, by names such as Barbara Kruger and Shepard Fairey (Every day, eat this way).



This again shows how the current day and past years propaganda is hugely influenced by the older piece of Propaganda by Government organisations nearly 70 years prior.

The fourth and final piece of Propaganda art I wish to show you is a piece titled ‘Road Accident deaths to Children and Teenagers in 1960’.



The hard-hitting infographic shows the amount of deaths of children aged 0-15 (which was 747) and then the amount of Teenagers ages between 15 and 19 (which was 787), is hugely informative poster that would really make the reader think about what they can do to stop and prevent deaths of Children and Teenagers. After recently doing Infographics for an Australian Steel Company as Freelance work, I was intrigued to find out what elements the designer has used to give this strong, bold impression. The answer to that is as I thought; nothing! He has kept the general design so simple and clean – that the viewer can gather all the relevant information without having to even look for it – it is all really important, easy to understand information. The use of colours, such as the bold yellow/orange as the fill on the graph shows the peaks of the graph and helps to emphasise the difference when the graph gets to the age 15. The red line on the graph also gives this bold, strong feel, and people will always class the colour red with death and blood in topics like this. The designer also keeps the type very clear by giving each block it’s own clean, white background for easy reading and navigation.

After looking back at the British Library and my visit around the exhibition, I can safely say I really enjoyed looking at the many different types of Propaganda Art and would definitely go back to another Propaganda exhibition. My only negative remark about the whole day was the amount of people in the actual space. It was very cramped in certain areas, and this made people feel uncomfortable and left people stranded to look at a small paragraph of informative text if was person was in the way. I am looking forward to my next gallery visit next week, and it’s blog post will be up in good time.