Book Review: Posters for the People

The New Deal: just picture it

A timely publication to tie in with the seventy-fifth anniversary of the New Deal and it's a worthwhile addition to the only other book on the subject: Christopher DeNoon's Posters of the WPA.

Ennis Carter has edited a lovely book of almost five hundred posters, divided into twelve sections. Though there were thousands produced the selection here will give you a good idea about the style and themes. Having looked through the book several times I feel there a couple creative styles shown in the posters: the solid color modernist ones with their angled headlines in geometric type promoting industry and the more whimsical folksy ones for art shows and plays. All of them reflect what is possible with the cheap silkscreen process so there is an absence of photos or anything that required a graduated tone. Fortunately the technique more or less makes artists and designers go for something simple and direct using two or three colors.

Most of the posters use silkscreen though I was surprised to see some that were captioned as `Hand painted on board', surely there weren't many produced like this. The cultural event ones had to present a lot of type detail for name of the event, players, location and ticket prices whereas the ones that could be called propaganda presented a straightforward message: Careless talk costs lives!

The book's production is first class with good paper and printed with a 175 screen and nicely all the posters have a drop shadow which lifts them off the page. I think Christopher DeNoon's book (out of print but worth searching out because the price seems to rise yearly) is the one I prefer, though it has a lot fewer posters, 280 in color, it benefits from several excellent essays about the WPA and background to the times plus it's beautifully designed.

Both books will probably be the only ones ever published with a big selection of WPA posters and they both cover the subject beautifully. Dover have published a book of posters with a CD-ROM: 60 Great WPA Posters Platinum DVD and Book (Electronic Clip Art) with a poster a page which makes them bigger than anything in the Carter or DeNoon books.

Posters for the People is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | FR | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN)

Posters for the People - 03
Title spread.

Posters for the People - 01
Top left: what a brilliant design for a toy sale. Unfortunately the artist is unknown.

Posters for the People - 02
Back of the book fly-leaf.

Posters for the People - 04
Art and craft.

Posters for the People - 05
Left: Jack Rivolta's beautiful graphic solution for the NYC trade zone.

Posters for the People - 06
Chapter opener.

Posters for the People - 07
Preservation and conservation. Seven of these are newly discovered posters.

Posters for the People - 08
Knowledge and information with two wonderful designs from Vera Bock (top left and bottom right)

Posters for the People - 09
Travel and destinations.

Posters for the People - 10
Prosperity and opportunity. This sort of subject matter allows designers to go for strong graphic images like the Foreign Trade Zone.

Posters for the People - 11
The cover with a symbol that is used inside to denote newly discovered posters.

Visit Amazon to check out more reviews.

If you buy from the links, I get a little commission that helps me get more books to feature.

Here are direct links to the book: | | | | | | | |


Add new comment