Hot House Talk: Abram Games

Today during our lunch break The CASS school of design hosted one of its renowned Hot House Talks. Today’s talk was given by Naomi Games daughter of Abram Games. In her talk she explained firstly who Abram was and how he became a poster designer she gave a funny anecdote about how Abrams told his headmaster “I want to be the best poster maker in Britain” and that his headmasters response was “you cant even draw” after that she told us about his technique of drawing and using stencils with an airbrush to create shading and gradients instead of using multiple colours due to how it was more expensive to print the more colours you used.

Naomi also showed us plenty of her father’s work and spoke about what would be called a design philosophy today but I imagine that this was simply the aesthetic and style he would’ve enjoyed because at that time graphic designers didn’t really exist as such. His philosophy is one that many designers to this day put into practice he would call it “Maximum Meaning Minimum Means” or as we would say today “Less is more”.

He was able to create these simplistic posters by incorporating text and image together as one. It could be said that this is simple design practice by todays standards but at the time this kind of thinking was revolutionary and laid the foundations for poster design as we know it today. Here are some examples of Abrams posters were you can see very clearly how he combined the image and text into one.

Abrams early work

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Abram Games, Ealry Posters

Abram also entered poster competitions; here are two that were separate contest winners the one on the left came in second place and the one on the right came in first.

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Abram Games, Competition posters

Abram was also well known for his work with London Transport here are two posters he created with the intent to persuade people into using public transport when visiting the city to see music venues and art galleries. In these two you can see the one on the left incorporates the transport logo into a musical note and the one on the right into a painters pallet once again showing not just tremendous skill with his airbrush but also innovative thinking in terms of how to make the required content work for him.

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Abram Games, London Transport Posters

Military

Naomi also told us about how Abram had joined the army during world war two. She spoke about how he was first asked to draw maps for the army but he refused and asked to be sent to the front lines although they offered him a number of different positions. Abram had been at war and living in the barracks for some time he had seen how the conditions were it was dark and cold, it was not a pleasant. Here are some drawing done by abram whilst in the barracks at night.

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Abram Games, Sketches from the barracks

He had written a letter to his superiors stating that the barracks needed new posters after sending that letter he would design a recruiting poster for the army and that would then spark of his career as the first official official war poster artist.

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Abram Games, Army recruitment poster

One of his most well known posters is the “Blonde Bombshell” this is a poster he design for the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) this poster would later be band due to some saying it was to much about the looks of the woman and not the message. Adram continued to design posters for the army many of them related to propaganda, safety and hygiene.

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Abram Games, ATS recruitment poster
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Abram Games, Propaganda and safety posters

POST WAR

After the war Adram was commisioned by the government to design posters that would encourage the public to aid the concentration camp survivors by donating clothing and donating towards evacuating the rest of the holocaust victims.

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Abram Games, Aid the the survivors posters

Another of Abrams post war posters was also banned due to the message it sent this poster saying “Your Britain fight for it” depicts a young boy playing on the rubble of a bombed out building. It was the boys crooked legs that caused a controversy that would result in churchill banning the poster as he didn’t want the British public to think about the rickets epidemic that was spreading across the country due to lack of nurtrition.

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Abram Games, Your Britain Fight for it

Towards the end of the Hot House talk Naomi showed us some of Abrams rough sketches and how the developed into the final result.

This hot house talk has been one of the best so far the only way I could think to improve it is if Abram himself was able to have given the talk. Sorry for the low image quality in this post but we viewed the images on a projector hence the funny angles and cropping.

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