Public Information Posters
ABRAM GAMES (1914-1996)
'This Child Found A Blind' 1943 (War Office Poster)
© Estate of Abram Games.
During World War Two and for a while after, children were often attracted to the sites that had been used by soldiers for weapons practice. Tragically some were killed and many were injured in accidents when playing with 'blinds' - live ammunition that had been carelessly left behind after practice. 'This child found a blind' is a public information poster that tackles this sensitive subject.
Games' poster cleverly addresses both halves of the target audience: those responsible (the military) and their potential victims (the public).
As an image the poster is designed to communicate both on a conscious and on a subconscious level.
First, Games uses a few images to relate the story on a conscious level. A young girl lies dead in a red coffin, her head visible through a cloud shaped window in the lid. Her coffin is gradually transformed into an arrow that points to the cause of her death - a 'blind' - in this case a grenade. In the background, an explosion illustrates the tragic consequence of her misadventure. A line of text that is stamped at an angle across the image states, 'This child found a blind' and completes the composition by leading your eye back to the coffin. Finally the entire design is underlined with two lines of bold text: one issuing a warning, 'Accidents occur daily with blinds left on ranges' and the other offering a solution, 'Report all blinds for destruction at the end of the day's work.'
Next, Games uses the basic shapes and colours of the images to communicate the message on a subconscious level.
When seen from a distance, the combination of the shapes of the coffin/arrow with the grenade registers as a large exclamation mark - ! - a punctuation symbol designed to emphasise the message.
Games always considered the effect of his designs when viewed from a distance. He began the development of each poster with tiny sketches and once observed: “I never work large because…. posters seen from a distance are small. If ideas do not work when they are an inch high, they are never going to work.”
Games choice of colours, red, yellow and black for both images and text are also designed to sound the alarm as they are natural warning colours. Red is a universal symbol of danger, while the combination of yellow and black, both in nature and design, indicates a potential hazard.
Finally, Games uses a counterchange between the tones of the images and the graduated tones of their background to contrast and balance each component part of the poster.
When you first look at an Abram Games poster it is deceptively simple, but every element is carefully calculated to communicate the message on a variety of levels to a wide target audience.