20 th Century Poster Propaganda and Graphic Designers Propaganda has been utilized throughout history as a way to influence the way people think. According to the American Heritage dictionary, propaganda is defined as, the systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause. The demand for persuasive communication by global governments is implemented through the use of posters in the wartime efforts of the twentieth century to visually persuade the general public (Meggs. P. 249-251). Throughout the twentieth century graphic designers, through the medium of poster design, employed propaganda by influencing and manipulating the way the war was perceived in the public eye.
Clearly all this demonstrates a social and political role for graphic designers because it was social communication and involvement in the current politics. Poster propaganda reached its height of importance as a visual communication tool during the First World War. During this time in the early twentieth century, radio and other forms of communication were not in widespread use unlike the quickly advancing printing technologies (Meggs. P. 251).
The global communities turned to the poster, created by graphic artists, to relay their message to the public. In general the posters were a means to increase public morale to maintain war support and to recruit much needed armies. Each global entity's poster took on its own message and particular form. Posters of the Central Powers, which included, Germany, Austria, Hungry, and the Allies, France, Great Britain, and the United States, were very different (Meggs.
P. 251). Lucian Bernhard is a pivotal designer during the twentieth century (Meggs. P. 250).
According to Meggs, "his work might be considered the logical conclusion of the turn-of-the-century poster movement." The Central Powers poster design followed the "traditions of the Vienna Secession and the simplicity of Plakatsil pioneered by Bernhard. Words and images were integrated, and the essence of communication was conveyed by simplifying images into powerful shapes and patterns" (Meggs. P. 251).
In figure 16-9, Bernhard adopted a Medieval approach to a war-loan campaign poster. The words read, "This is the way to peace-the enemy wills it so! Thus subscribe to the war loan" (Meggs. P. 251). In this example, Bernhard, the designer, subscribes to the use of poster propaganda to convey his message through coherency of image and text to create meaning. This is an example of how Bernhard uses posters to convey a convincing message.
Propaganda has the goal to arouse feelings, such as anger and sympathy, in its audience with the intent to incite action from the viewer. In wartime efforts, for example, propaganda was employed to make people feel more patriotic and or build fears. In America leading magazine illustrators turned to poster design. Joseph Pennell designed one of the most compelling war posters in America and it depicted the destruction of New York City and the Statue of Liberty (Meggs.
P. 253). His powerful use of imagery brought the viewer to the action making the poster more impact ful. The British designers changed the poster and made them more illustrative and literal rather than symbolic (Meggs. P.