Historical Analysis of Poster Art - Essay Example

Published: 2024-01-28
Historical Analysis of Poster Art - Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Communication War Art
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1067 words
9 min read


Posters were an early method of communication even before the First World War started. It started with the introduction of lithography which involved the use of limestone plates for printing numerous copies and then grew to the production of colored prints (Ohl, 2018). It was a powerful innovation that other people began to use as the technology grew up to when it was made easy to produce many copies at once.

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The WWI poster art was the idea of President Woodrow Wilson, who organized a committee whose responsibility was to manage the official propaganda of the government and take care of the advertising activities. The publicity role was given to a top commercial illustrator to head it and was paid a large sum. The posters were then made by the then prominent commercial artists who sought to bring out the best in their work, and they were published to be shown to the general public.

Historical Content

The historical content presented in the arts shows the critical war efforts of the United States. The posters were effective because they had the unrivaled ability to ensure quick communication with the general public and also allowed the government and other support organizations to mobilize the home front. That was possible because they persuaded and informed the public about matters concerning public policy and how they were to utilize their efforts to keep fighting. The posters were also ideal for raising money that would be used to buy weapons and support the war to the level best.

The use of the posters also included recruiting soldiers, boosting production, and encouraging support for relief efforts from the public. In total, the United States made close to 20 million posters in less than two years. The initial factor that made the posters quite useful was their historical significance over time and the fact that there was continued popularity stemmed from the ability to capture the spirit of patriotism of the people. They also felt like it was part of their sense of duty to participate actively in the war.

There was a range of posters that were created by commercial artists for the purpose of the First World War (Kaminski, 2014). The recruitment posters encouraged the enlisting of members into the army. The people were urged to join the States army, air force, or marine, as long as they took an active role in fighting against the warring countries. These posters were visible to men in large parts of the country as they were the ones whose efforts were more required.

The posters for financial support were meant to encourage the Americans to buy liberty loans as well as other war bonds and saving stamps that would be necessary to fund the war (Stump, 2012). It was essential that the war became sustainable so that it was impossible for the United States to lose. The financial support went a long way in ensuring that the Americans had an adequate supply of everything such as relief food, guns, and other materials that were required.

There were also patriotic posters that were produced by the government as well as other state civilian associations. These posters were meant to encourage the farmers, women, and other workers to actively engage in the war work and support the war effort of the country. It was required that the people acknowledged the need to support the fight because it would show that they were committed to the win, unlike if they were divided because then, they would fail at their efforts.

The conservation posters, on the other hand, encouraged citizens to continue conserving food and other supplies for the war such as fuel. Conserving these supplies would ensure that they did not run out of them in a short time and that they could sustain the people at war. The relief posters were a request for assistance from other countries and soldiers as they could also take part in the war.

A poster considered the aspect of what was stated in it, both overtly and implied. The posters could either have a positive or negative connotation. Other posters used generalization statements that were made by inferring information from specific cases and then would be applied to the whole. The slogans written on the posts were also short and sharp, as they were most often used by the government to encapsulate the idea. The posters also had appealed to the emotions of the people reached by the information.

The government used posters as a form of propaganda to serve their agenda of the fight. They used the posters to spread ideas about the view of the war and their general needs. The kind of messages that the government hoped to get across included justifying their involvement in the war to the larger population. The government needed to show the public a real reason why the war was important and why the participation would put America in the limelight.

The reason why the government used posters as their form of propaganda was that televisions were not yet invented at the time (di Jorio et al., 2006); hence it was the only effective way to pass information around and ensure it gets to a larger number of people. Similarly, at the time, not everyone owned or had access to a radio. This way, using such a means would not create the kind of attention that was needed to get people to be recruited in the army, to raise money, or to encourage them to conserve resources. Generally, the posters were the only effective means that the government could use to get the messages across to a large audience.


The posters produced during the war were posted on the billboards, windows of stores, walls of factories, and any other places where people used to gather around. The posters did a great job of informing the public of the war and how they were supposed to react.


di Jorio, I., Oosterlinck, K., & Pouillard, V. (2006). Advertising, propaganda and war finance France and the US during WWI. Money, 9(21), 13.

Kaminski, J. J. (2014). World War I and propaganda poster art: Comparing the United States and German cases. Epiphany. Journal of Transdisciplinary Studies, 7(2), 64-81.

Ohl, J. (2018). 1B1: The Sights and Sounds of WWI Propaganda Posters.

Stump, T. (2012). Victory Through Art Power: Comparisons between American Posters from the First and Second World Wars. History Matters, 121.

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