behind the scenes: compare information posters in history

Last week you will have seen the first image in my 20:20 project – Virus. In this image, I compare information posters from 1920 and 2020. Both years have been subject to a pandemic and I thought it would be interesting to compare how the government disseminates information to the public.

Recreating history

As history appears to be repeating itself, I wanted to take a closer look at the way in which information is shared. It is interesting to look at the design elements used in each poster. The colours, fonts, and wording used to convey a message.

1920 Spanish Flu

In the early 20th Century there was a very clear image of a nurse wearing a face mask. That is a really powerful image that would have made it clear how serious the situation was.

The poster was also incredibly wordy. There is so much information crammed into one poster. There is a good reason for this though. Sharing information today has become so much easier. We have so many forms of communication, that people get important messages quicker than ever.

In 1920 people would have relied on newspapers and radio for information. The mediums were so much slower than they are today.

20:20 pandemic - reproduction of the 1920s Spanish flu information poster

So how was this image created? I started by taking a self-portrait while wearing my lab coat. For those that don’t know my day job is a lab technician in a high school. So my workwear came in handy for this shoot. I created a headscarf and mask out of two white t-shirts.

Once the basic image was created I put together the remaining elements in photoshop. I added the red cross to the lab coat and headscarf, and changed the colour of my hair, to match the original poster.

I then added the text and completed the look by adding a slight sepia overlay and texture to give the impression it is printed on old paper.

2020 Corona virus

The modern poster was a little easier to recreate. Photographically I only needed to capture my hand opening a door. The rest of this poster is created in photoshop with adjustment layers, gradients, and text.

20:20 pandemic - reproduction of the 2020 information poster. compare information posters

Compare information posters

As you can see there is a great deal of difference between how information dissemination has changed over the last 100 years. However, the message they convey is pretty much the same. The advice has not changed, just the way in which we are told.

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