Last week marked the 83rd anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt creating the Rural Electrification Administration, one the president’s many New Deal efforts to give poor Americans an assist in catching up with urban areas. And as with all such initiatives this one came complete with a series of graphic-driven PSAs like the one above, by Lester Beall.
The unofficial grandfather of modern graphic design, Kansas-born, New York-based Beall broke free from previous realist design rules, toying with perspective, space and planes to create a new, almost collage-like three-dimensionality aimed at eye and heart alike. The designer “must work with one goal in mind—to integrate the elements in such a manner that they will combine to produce a result that will convey not merely a static commercial message, but an emotional reaction as well,” he said.
And it’s this philosophy that garnered Beall a loyal following and booming business over the next decades. While he worked for the government again later, during a Housing Authority campaign against slums, his work in the 1940s was primarily for editorial clients like the Chicago Tribune and Collier’s, the latter of whom he designed the chilling “Will There Be War?” cover featuring Churchill, and corporate entities, including Upjohn Pharmaceutical and Abbott Technologies, for whom he designed corporate magazines. Later, in the 1950s and 1960s, he pioneered modern branding for industrial giants like Caterpillar, Merrill Lynch, and International Paper deploy design to create public personas for themselves. Lester Beall died in 1969, leaving an indelible mark on our visual culture.
After the jump, 15 more Lester Beall posters from his time working for the government, mostly for Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Program, and all found in the Library of Congress.
And for more “Found in the LOC,” click here.