Addressing every citizen as a combatant in the war of production, wartime posters united the power of art with the power of advertising to sell the idea that the factory and the home were also arenas of war. Poster campaigns aimed not only to increase productivity in factories, but also to enlarge people's views of their responsibilities in a time of total war.
Wartime posters were conceived as a visual call to arms. According to poster designers, posters should be to the eye what a shouted command is to the ear.
"Come on, Gang! We're Building Arms for Victory!"
(Pontiac Motor Division, General Motors Corporation, 1942.
Gift of S.D. Warren Company,
Poster, cat. 163991.11, 30"w x 40"h, cs91-14109)
Some poster designs aimed at making the war personal by raising the grim possibility of war extending to one's own backyard.
"It Can Happen Here!"
(Oldsmobile Division, General Motors Corporation, 1942
Gift of Oldsmobile Division, General Motors Corporation.
Poster, cat.164371.25, 30"w x 40"h, 91-10321)
In the early 1940s, posters were most usually seen in the form of 24-sheet billboards. By contrast, single-sheet war posters were small. Government planners felt that this was an advantage: the novelty of size and placement would make single-sheet posters noticeable.
"You're Darn Tootin' We'll Keep 'em Shootin'"
(Ordnance Department, U.S. Army, 1942
Gift of War Department, Services of Supply,
Poster, cat.163676.06, 28 1/2" x 40" 91-14108)