Thursday, February 19, 2009

Message, Medium, Musing on Originality

I saw this print on Etsy. Someone had taken a vintage WWII poster and printed it on archival paper in modern colours. I thought it was amazing. I instantly wanted it on yellow. I even emailed the artist (who I thought must be brilliant) to ask if I could please feature a photo on my blog. (I got no reply.)Then I realized I was late to the party. The BBC had already written a story about this poster. Apparently it was printed up on the eve of WWII, but never distributed (why not?). A bookstore owner found one in a book, showed it to his wife and they framed it for their shop. They were inundated with requests for copies. They made a few. One was featured in a holiday gift guide and according to the article, "all hell broke loose". The print I find now on Etsy (from Lisbon), beside being different than the one I originally found on Etsy (from Kentucky), is not only not original, but is riding a wave that has only just reached my shore. BoingBoing blogged it in 2007! There are not only prints available, but now also keychains and pendants and t-shirts. (The t-shirt seller has a photo of a ragged allegedly original poster. You have to scroll down.)

Naturally, the abundance of copies has spawned alternate versions and parodies, like Keep Calm and Carry Guns.

If you're interested in the typeface, consensus seems to be that it was hand-lettered, possibly Johnson or Gill.

Now that I've seen so many version I can't even read it properly anymore - I'm seeing "Kelp Balm" etc. And in the fashion of an indie music snob, who must leap off the "bandwagon" once others are on, I don't want one so badly anymore. I want this this one instead:

There are other incredible posters from WWII (and WWI and others) at the Imperial War Museum in England.

Some more treasures from the IWM are Eat Greens For Health, 6 Reasons Why YOU Should Save and Bad Form in Dress. Can you tell I picked the ones that most apply to me?!

FYI - proceeds from the IWM shop go to support the museum's charitable works, so buy your kids this and teach them a thing or two. (Now, now, I know your children are very smart, keep calm).


Natalie said...

There you go again! Blogging before I can get to your other posts! You can get a copy of the "Keep Calm" poster in red at Spotted Zebra. Your fave! The front window was full of them strewn everywhere as part of the display. It's the right kind of message to be having in a time where everyone is experiencing a little war within themselves, the economy, and what change is about.

WendyB said...

"Kelp balm" -- LOL!

Nadia said...

Ha, I have that "Keep Mum" one! As a postcard, not in full poster format, unfortunately.

JuliaMazal said...

Did you get it in England?