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Adapting US War Posters for the Coronavirus Pandemic

US War Posters

This personal project came out of a reaction to an article on Print Mag by Steven Heller, The Daily Heller: CovidRemix. The collection of Canadian propaganda posters got me thinking that there is a vast collection of US war posters ripe for redesign. They’re perfect for a similar transformation.

This project came together rather quickly within 24 hours. Attention was paid to the message first. Typographers and other designers will notice that fonts are different, sizes are approximate, and don’t match exactly. As I was the art director (insert smiley emoji), there was room for latitude. This first pass I wanted to get my ideas out there and see how it resonates.

This project imagined a world where the US government would promote knowledge and best practices to stay safe in our current environment. These US war posters have been modified to promote that philosphy. When possible I give specific background regarding the original designer, the year it was created, and some background for context.

Please note, on a personal level, I choose to stay home with my family, wear a mask when needed, and wash my hands probably more than necessary. I am in no way telling you what to do or how to live your life. My point of view is that if you are an adult, you can make up your own mind for your own reasons, but don’t force those on me. I am also not in the government and have no control over stay-at-home laws. I am an artist reacting to my surroundings.

We Can Do It Poster - Michael Lutjen

We Can Do It!


Original Designer: J. Howard Miller

Year: 1943

Background: Westinghouse Electric commissioned this piece to boost female worker morale. The poster was not widely seen during WWII and it wasn’t until the 1980s when it was repurposed for the female rights movement and is oftentimes referred to as “Rosie the Riveter”.

USA Bonds / USA Goods - Michael Lutjen

U*S*A Bonds – Third Liberty Loan Campaign – Boy Scouts of America Weapons for Liberty


Original Designer: Joseph Christian Leyendecker

Year: 1918

Background: This elaborate poster shows Lady Liberty standing over a Boy Scout with sword inscribed, “Be Prepared”. To obtain necessary funds for World War I, the United States Treasury resorted to borrowing through a series of bond issues. The Third Liberty Loan bond campaign of WWI launched in 1918.

Do With Less - Michael Lutjen

Do With Less, So They’ll Have Enough


Original Designer: Unknown

Year: 1943

Background: This poster was designed for the public at large during WWII. It was meant to encourage rationing, conservation, and sacrifice and was commissioned by the Office of War Information.

Don't Talk Yourself to Death - Michael Lutjen

Don’t Talk Yourself to Death


Original Designer: Artist Unknown

Year: 1943

Background: Not much was able to be found on this poster. What i did find out though was that this is part of a series. I have found two other versions online.

Sailor Version
Spotlight Version
Someone Talked - Michael Lutjen

Someone Talked


Original Designer: Frederick Siebel

Year: 1942

Background: This poster discusses the perceived dangers of information getting into the enemies hands and is meant to scare citizens into silence.

Help Uncle Sam Stamp Out the Kaiser - Michael Lutjen

Help Uncle Sam Stamp out the Kaiser


Original Designer: Harry S Bressler

Year: 1918

Background: This poster depicted the Kaiser as the German foe. Anti-german rhetoric was commonplace in America and often used by companies like The Third Liberty Loan to advertise their products serving a dual purpose.

I Want You - Michael Lutjen

I Want You


Original Designer: James Montgomery Flagg

Year: 1917

Background: This is one of the most recognizable US propaganda posters ever created. Although this was created during WWI it was later adapted for use during the second world war.