These striking silkscreen, lithograph, and woodcut posters were designed to publicize health programs, cultural programs, travel and tourism, educational programs, and community activities. The posters were made possible by the Federal Art Project, whose primary goal was to employ out-of-work artists. The project administrators believed that art should be part of the daily lives of all Americans, not just the elite. Even though there were diverse approaches to poster design, the WPA collection embodies a truly original American poster style.
Here are some of the Collection Highlights. The following 1936 poster is from the Tenement House Department of the City of New York. The poster promotes better living conditions by keeping tenement neighborhoods clean. Notice the expressive use of bold colors and lines.
The following poster is a 1936 poster announcing the second annual photograph exhibition of the Sioux City Camera Club. Note the stylized simplicity of the man and his camera, echoing the streamlined curves of the then popular Art Deco style.
Before the advent of television, posters were widely used as public service announcements. The follow poster promotes eye examinations for children.
Some of the most striking WPA posters are ones that promote travel and tourism. The follow poster, showing two bighorn sheep, highlights America’s national parks. Many of the posters were produced by the silkscreen printing process, which allowed graphic artists to create rich layers of colors and textures.
And of course, libraries and reading were also promoted.
This extraordinary collection of posters from the 1930’s continues to influence modern designers today.