Tag Archives: propaganda

wpa propaganda poster design idea

Printing Banners & Posters? Ideas & Inspiration from WPA Designs of WWII

Need to get attention with signage for your event or small business? Take inspiration from the bold, simple, and eye-catching designs of WPA posters from WWII.

Need an incentive? Click below for at least a 20% discount on custom-printed banners, posters, and signs at Vistaprint.com:


The Posters of the WPA: Simple & Effective Signage Ideas

wpa poster design brush teeth

WPA – Hygiene Poster

It’s amazing how these WPA posters, like the government propaganda posters of the same era, can convey a strong message with only a few words and a single image.

A number of them will even ask the viewer a question to hook them. “Are YOU helping?” Maybe you can do the same to potential customers. (Who wants a TACO?!)

Whether you are printing a banner for a trade show, advertising a grand opening, or printing a poster to advertise an art show, I think you can take inspiration from the poster designs of the WPA:

About The Works Progress (WPA) Administration Posters

From 1936 until 1943 the WPA commissioned about 2000 different posters to publicize events, community activities, and health & education programs in 17 states. This government program to support the arts created a massive amount of bold, creative, and effective signage which can still inspire our own marketing efforts today.

wpa poster design foreign trade zone

Tip: Printing Effective Signage & Posters? Keep It Simple, Like the WPA

“Oh twice as much ain’t twice as good,
And can’t sustain like one half could” – Gravity, John Mayer

So, you probably have a lot to say to potential customers, and you want to make sure you include it all when printing a sign, poster, or banner? Actually, you’re better off keeping it simple. Don’t waste your time creating wordy signage like this:

banner printing ideas bad

Marketing FAIL! Ineffective banners. You lost me 20 words ago. Yawn!

Think fewer words and images. If you’re banner looks like a page ripped from an encyclopedia, (What’s that? Ok, I’m old!) people will walk right by it and it will get lost in all the noise and visual stimulation that surrounds us on every street.

Effective & Cheap Signage: Custom Printed Banners, Posters, & Signs

Another tip and bit of inspiration: these WPA posters, like most of the propaganda of the era including Russian Constructivist posters, were done with few resources and technology on a tight budget. If you don’t have the services of a professional designer, or skill as an illustrator, you can still appreciate the effectiveness and simplicity of these designs, and rethink your own signage layout to better command attention.

So, don’t think that you have to break the bank, especially with new printing processes, to get effective custom signage for yourself or your small business. Of course, we recommend Vistaprint, but you can find brilliant cheap printing from several other online printing companies like Shutterfly.

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Ideas for Flyer Advertising: 12 Bold Designs Inspired By Constructivism

constructivist inspired flyer designThere are 101 ideas for why you might be printing flyers: a new restaurant, a clothing sale, a concert, or maybe a coupon for an oil change?

Regardless of the reason you are printing flyers, the objective is the same: get attention & convey your message.

Ideas for Flyer Design: Go Bold or Go Home

So how do you get your message across on a busy street when 100 other businesses and brands are competing for the same people’s attention? Be bold and clear; and consider taking inspiration from Russian Constructivism.

Russian Constructivism & Advertising Flyers

Soon after WWI a bold & abstract design style came out of Russia called “Constructivism.” It had the simple objective of getting people’s attention, and with minimal resources or technology, it soon became an effective style for both advertising and propaganda.

20% Off + Free Shipping on Flyers From Vistaprint: Get Coupon!

constructivist flyer design modern

Unconventional layout

The design was constructed from visual elements like lines and planes in a precise, simple order. Often it looked like they used an exact-o knife (not Photoshop) as their main design tool. Really, it was as if the message itself was cooked down to the basics, with all of the non-essential parts melting away.

Constructivist designers knew that people were used to seeing messages in the same way: from left to right, straight across the page; so why not rethink this basic unwritten rule?

Factor in that in early 20th Century Russia the illiteracy rate was high; so advertisers knew that relying on paragraphs of words to convey their message wasn’t an option. They needed simple imagery to reinforce whatever was being said so the message was still received, even by those who couldn’t read.

Flyer Design Ideas: Less Is More

“Men of few words are the best men.” – William Shakespeare

In all of our effort to convey a message, we have the tendency to over-complicate things. Whether we are teaching a lesson to a child, or advertising a restaurant, less is usually more. The essence of our message often gets lost in the excessive number of words and imagery that we use to deliver it.

So, try reducing your message to it’s most simple form.

Two Flyers for Bicycle Safety: Only One Message Received

sample_constructivist flyer vistaprint

Ok, so this isn’t an “apples to apples” comparison, but you get the point. Give a quick look at both of these safety flyers. Ten minutes from now you might not be able to name even one of the ten rules of “bicycle safety,” but I guarantee you will remember the “stay off the sidewalk” message.

Check out these flyers for the same movie. Both of these flyers succeed in being simple and bold, but the one that adds a “Constructivist” twist seems to really grab and hold my attention.

sample flyer ideas vistaprint

Printing Flyers: Can You Simplify Your Message?

Sure, you might not have a professional graphic designer or a big budget, but you still want to get noticed. Before printing your flyers, answer these questions:

  • Does your flyer command attention and deliver your message instantly?
  • Are all of the words you’re using really necessary, or could you cut them in half?
  • Is your layout too predictable, with all of the copy running in rows from left to right?
  • What if you rotated some of the words or design elements?
  • If someone couldn’t read, would they know what your flyer is advertising?

Sample Constructivist Designs: Ideas for Flyers?

Check out some of these simple, eye-catching, bold examples of Constructivist advertising, and try envisioning your own message distilled to simple, bold fonts, copy, and imagery:

Flyers: Whether you’re printing something the size of a postage stamp or a poster, the goal is the same: get your message across. Flyers can do just that, so consider making them a part of your marketing strategy!

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