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America Shows Guts With Vintage Community Posters
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America Shows Guts With Vintage Community Posters

Think about this. Was there ever a federal agency which employed artists and designers full-time to promote a sequence of programs through vintage community posters? Well, it is true. It lasted for almost 10 years from 1935 until 1943. It was called the WPA (Works Projects Administration) and more specifically the FAP (Federal Art Project). With all of the budget cuts for art and music instruction and slashes in cultural programs (theses days) it seems unreal to me. But, it really happened.

Events are in the works at "Social Impact Studios" 525 S. 4th Street, Studio 589 Philadelphia, PA 19147 to officially open their space for permanent exhibit of "Posters For The People: Art Of The WPA" in 2013.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and The New Deal

President elect Franklin D. Roosevelt was saddled with one third of the country being unemployed, coming into office. His fix came in 1933 when he launched his reform programs named “The New Deal”. These programs were not only designed to put the nation back to work, but to help poverty inflicted Americans identify with performing and fine arts to enrich their lives.

The WPA and The FAP

The FAP (Federal Art Project) was an agency created under Roosevelt's New Deal. Under FAP the WPA ( Works Projects Administration) created a Poster Division. Its sole purpose was to produce posters to heighten awareness and to reflect (what the Roosevelt administration thought) would enhance their folks lives. 500 artists were hired through those years, knocking out 35,000 graphic designs and 2,000,000 or more vintage community posters.

The agency(s) and poster program were a huge success. A Win-Win. First, they helped Americans embrace hope and expectations of a government that seemed pro-active and cared. Second, this was boon to our own "homegrown" style and technique of poster design. Before then, poster designing was attributed to the French or other masters of the late 19th Century. This "Posters For The People" series is very stylized and instantly recognizable ( think: Rosie the Riveter) totally American.

A Better Life Ahead

The nation was in an aftermath of the the Great Depression. The peoples vintage community posters were made to inform you, but also to brighten things up and give hope to the future.

It should also be crystal clear that the WPA were not all artists and designers, far from it. This program employed millions to solidify the nations infrastructure building new highways, parks, dams, utilities and bridges. The posters merely reflect these great accomplishments and show us the landscape of American life at that moment in time.


Street Talk

Wonderful article, as usual! Very, very interesting landing page. Don't see talent like yours everyday.

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  about 6 years ago
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