Most people will no doubt have seen the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' posters over the past few years printed on anything from mugs to deck chairs. In fact, many will probably have seen the array of derivative posters which have attempted to trade off the success of the original. Yet how many can say they know the history behind the iconic words and simple typography?
Recently, we saw an article on the Guardian website which gave us an insight into their incredible story. The posters actually date back to 1939 when the Ministry of Information commissioned three poster designs to be printed on mass during World War II. The first two designs were distributed around the country, while the 2.5 million posters which carried today's well-known phrase were held back for emergencies. Fortunately (or unfortunately if you were a designer!) the posters were never used and the majority were destroyed. However, a few did survive.
One such copy was found by the owner of Barter Books, a second-hand bookshop in North East England, who came across the original poster at the bottom of a box of old books. Admiring its message and design, he put the poster on display in his shop and the rest, as they say, is history. . . Hills Design really liked this story and the recent video created by the bookshop itself. It certainly gives a new impetus to the posters which have perhaps been over-produced a little too much of late.