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World War One - Posters


The Iconic ''I Want You'' Poster Is Seen for the First Time (Literary Digest, 1917)

In April, 1917, the call went out to artists of all ages that their talents were badly needed to create new and different sorts of posters that would rally the American masses to the colors. One of the first to answer the call was the celebrated illustrator James Montgomery Flagg; his first effort was the memorable 'I Want You" poster, immediately raised the standards which other artists would have to acknowledge. It was reported that George Creel, the President's appointee for all matters involving such undertakings in the mass-media, hosted a dinner for American illustrators; the evening ended with much clapping and cheering and the next day, one can assume, the poster campaign began in earnest.

Click here to read about W.W. I art.

 

''Tell That To The Marines'' (Sea Power Magazine, 1918)

The W.W. I poster campaign was a vast undertaking that was new in the annals of warfare. Never before had government locked arms with the newly created forces of mass-media (such as it was) in an effort to instill some sense of patriotism in the hearts of so many. The old salts who edited SEA POWER MAGAZINE recognized this and so they documented as many of the posters dealing with the US. Navy as they could find.

The attached single page article explains the origins and development of the famed Tell That To The Marines poster that was painted by James Montgomery Flagg in 1918.

 

George Creel and His Posters (How We Advertised America, 1920)

This essay was written by President Wilson's Director of the Committee on Public Information, George Creel (1876-1953). It first appeared in Creel's post-war memoir, How we advertised America and gives a thorough rundown of the planning and the creativity that went into the mass-production of what is today a highly-prized collectible; the American World War I poster.

Twenty years later Creel wrote an article in which he explained his belief that America cannot be censored. Click here to read it.

 

The 'Christy Girl' at War (Sea Power Magazine, 1918)

When the songwriter Irving Berlin sat down in 1915 to write his well-loved ditty "I love the Girl on the Magazine Cover", we have no doubt that it was the Christy Girl who inspired him. The Christy-Girl, so-called, was the creation of the American commercial illustrator Howard Chandler Christy (1873 1952) who placed her famous mug on thousands of magazine covers, newspaper ads and billboards.

The attached file consists of two articles, both pertaining to recruiting posters; one for the U.S. Navy and the other for the Marines. In the interest of national security, the Christy-Girl is depicted as a cross-dressing patriot in both of them, and the sailors loved it; they preferred to call her "Honey Girl", and as far as they were concerned, that name fit her just fine.

 

W.W. I Poster Art Criticized (Vanity Fair Magazine, 1918)

VANITY FAIR's art critic, James Frederick Gregg, had a good deal to say concerning the art of the World War One American poster campaign:

"...Indeed, so ineffective have most of the posters been as art, that it is ridiculous to imagine that they have had any effect whatever in stimulating in us the spiritual side of our share in the war."

 

'Over There' by Albert Sterner (Sea Power Magazine, 1918)

"An American sailor in white uniform stands in the center bearing the Stars and Stripes, and at his side stands Columbia, in shining armor and with a drawn sword, pointing across the sea to direct the gaze of the sailor "over there" to the battlefield of the nations, where he must carry his flag to victory for the sake of the free country whose uniform he wears. In the background beneath the flag is shown the battle fleet steaming out to sea."

- so wrote the editors of SEA POWER MAGAZINE who were so moved by the W.W. I U.S. Navy recruiting poster "Over There" by Albert Sterner (1863 - 1946) that all they could do was describe it's powerful lines and overall design.

Equally dumbstruck was a grizzled old Boatswain's Mate who stared in awe at the poster for some time before remarking:

"That's the sort of thing that makes a man think"

 


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