The Big Idea – Screen printing propaganda

I had done the research, figured out my concept, it was then time to figure out what to create. However, just like the competition project, the research stage was going great but figuring out what to apply it to was the part I struggled with.

I am constantly looking at my portfolio and thinking about what I need, or what I can improve upon. I think that this method of thinking is good in small bites, as its always positive to try and diversify your work. But when I start to deconstruct my portfolio too much I start to lose sight of what I am really trying to achieve with my work. I don’t have any video work, illustrations, paintings, animation, web design (not until the competition deadline is over), UI design, packaging or product design. But to me that doesn’t really matter, as nearly all of the projects I have in my portfolio are ones that I have enjoyed and I am proud of all of them. I delved into many different areas of design during my time in London, and although I could complete any task to a professional standard, I always feel as if I am doing my best work and improving the most when I am doing what I am most passionate about, editorial design.

So after a slight diversion in research, I figured out that I wanted to do something print based, and seeing as posters were one of my initial ideas I decided to run with it. Sticking with my concept of portraying the dangers of obedience by using the four Nazi officers; Eichmann, Heydrich, Mengele and Himmler, I came up with the idea of creating five informative posters on each of them. Each poster would feature one of the four men, and then the fifth one would summarise what I had found. In terms of composition, I have always been a fan of posters that feature a strong visual element, paired with small typography that can be read upon closer inspection, which is apparent in the images below.

However, after a tutorial with Ian and Kuba, it was suggested that I strip down the information on each poster and just focus on the visuals, with the fifth one being more informative. Ian also had a good idea of spelling out the word ‘Obedience’ on the posters so that it could be read out when each poster was placed next to each other, while also keeping the subject on obedience.

Listening to the advice given and using the inspiration I had found, I created a rough draft of what the poster would look like. I wasn’t pleased with the draft at all, and it actually made me start to doubt the concept. The idea was to have the giant red letters cover the face of each of the men to portray the negative role that obedience had on them, but the composition wasn’t working for me.


After some more tutorials and some great advice from Matt, I took a completely new approach. I decided that I was going to create four posters, not five, and use them as a form of advertisement for the research manifesto, which I decided was going to be a book. A book was the perfect way to show off what I had found as there are so many fascinating facts about the lives of these four subjects. Also, there was a lot of potential for some incredibly striking designs through exploring the dark nature of the subject matter. So in a sense, the posters would be a brief visualisation of my research, and the book would be a more detailed version. It was such a great feeling when I finally figured out what I wanted to do, although I am slightly annoyed that it took me so long to get there.

If I was going to make some striking posters, I knew that screen printing was the way to go. It is such a raw and beautiful visual style, and I thought that it would be good to make the most of the facilities while I was here. I also knew that if I was going to be making posters about obedience in Nazi Germany, propaganda was the way to go.

For inspiration, I found two great examples that use a regular black print with a distorted red overlay to create an disturbing visual outcome. Moving on from that, after to talking to Nigel from the print studio about what I was doing he showed me an incredible book with original French screen printed propaganda posters. The rough and simple compositions were so powerful and beautiful that it inspired to create something that carried the same effect.

The final posters are a compilation of everything that has been found so far. The halftone images, as suggested by Tom Martin, are split in two to represent the the effect obedience has had on each of these men. Lexia, a beautiful typeface from Dalton Maag, is a bold and clear slab serif that lends itself perfectly to this style of design. Each poster orders the viewer to read the research manifesto in an almost Dadaist fashion. In an exhibition environment, the books would be placed below each poster in a small container.


The actual screen printing process was incredibly inspiring, and Nigel was brilliant at re-teaching me the process while also helping me to evolve the project and experiment with different styles. Also, he managed to create a red ink that matched the Pantone red that I had been using in the books which was pretty great. Below are some photos of the entire screen printing process. Due to time constraints I was only able to create one A3 poster for the final review, but after some practise I will print each poster in A2 in preparation for the final exhibition.