Question: What role has graphic design played in political propaganda and what role does it continue to play today?

Modern Political Propaganda

  • “…political propaganda seeks the systematic enlightenment necessary to win supporters to a worldview.”
  • “It is above all essential that the propaganda warden does not follow advice coming from a desktop, but rather that he is and remains in close contact with the people. Only he who understands everyday life, and who is familiar with events in political life, will be able to speak effectively to the people he wishes to persuade.”

Mien Kampf


  • “…I soon came to realize that the right use of propaganda was an art in itself and that this art was practically unknown to out bourgeois parties.”

Page 160

  • “Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people”
  • Propaganda has little to do with science as an advertisement poster has to do with art”
  • “The purpose of propaganda is not the personal instruction of the individual, but rather to attract public attention to certain things, the importance of which can be brought home to the masses only by this means.”

The Evolution of Propaganda Design: US Retro Posters

This Website is good for American propaganda posters around the WW1 and WW2 time.

A History of Graphic Design: Propaganda Posters

  • “…many of the graphic designers in the bellicose countries believed in the messages they were delivering, and used a verity of modern techniques in their designs.”
  • “Modernist art movements were influencing propaganda posters from the early 20st century.”

Design and Propaganda

  • “propaganda is another purpose, where graphical design plays a leading role. There is no country in the world that wouldn’t use graphic art as the powerful weapon to influence people and their attitude toward a particular idea or situation.”
  • “Propaganda is as old as a human society. The earliest signs of it can be found in the times of Roman Empire and ancient India.”
  • Nazi propa WW2 – “printed leaflets and posters remained the major media for propaganda graphics. All the artists and painters had to receive an approval from the Ministry before publishing their works in Nazi Germany”
  • “Being commonly used by Nazi and communists, the word “propaganda” received some negative coloring. Though today propaganda still remains a powerful technique to influence the social opinion in all the countries around the globe, the word itself is not that widely used, being substituted by some modern terms, such as public relation, marketing, promotion, advertising, etc.”
  • “. There is an extremely thin border between propaganda concepts and, for example, those of advertising. That is why it is really hard to say whether posters of Coca-Cola or McDonalds, you see every day, should be treated as propaganda or advertising.”

Debate the use of graphic design in propaganda and branding

  • “Graphic design is used to promote brands, market products and manipulate public opinion. Historically, totalitarian governments including Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the USSR and Communist China have all used propaganda art, iconography and graphics to sell their message with great effectiveness.”

Propaganda Design: Inspiration, Tools, Resources, and Techniques

  • “if your designs don’t outwardly resemble propaganda, incorporating the techniques and principles behind successful propaganda pieces can greatly improve the effectiveness of your designs.”

This site is good for modern propaganda.

The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda by David Welch, 1993, Routlegde, London

Page 50

  • “…propaganda must address itself to large masses of people and attempt to move them to uniformity of opinion and action.”

Page 51

  • “…it is fair to say that propaganda tended to be more effective when it was reinforcing existing values and prejudices”

Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns around the World and through History

Page 7

  • Harold “Lasswell referred to “propaganda” as merely a “tool,” to be used either for good, bad, or amoral goals – similar to advertising or public relations.”

Page 8-9

  • “…almost anything designed to publicize ideas, organizations, or people can be deemed “propaganda.””

Page 236

  • “Political poster propaganda is designed to elicit emotional reactions.”

Page 237

  • “Posters have been one consonant in propaganda or mass persuasion campaigns at election time; propaganda has been a means to influence public opinion about candidates and parties, and effect desired voter actions.”

“Intervention: Design and Politics/Politics and Design” by Steven Heller Voice: AIGA National Design Conference March 23, 2002

Page 4

  • “Photomontage was another propaganda tool. Manipulating the photographic image not only provided a melodrama, it enabled the propagandist to trifle with truth in an impressionable way.”

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