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Avant Garde Poster Contest

Posted by Scott

There was a massive anti-war protest across the street this weekend, thousands of people everywhere.  All of the signs and posters reminded me of the Avant Garde "No More War" poster contest.  I dug around and found these two issues, #1 and #5. On the back cover of Avant Garde #01 (1967) they printed a call for entries for the contest and announced the judges, Herb Lubalin being among them (quite intimidating for the contestants I’d imagine).  The winners of the contest were announced in issue #5. I’ve posted my favorite example  above, an entry by Billy Apple (England) and Robert Coburn (US). Efficient and to the point, I think the key here is that it goes beyond merely engaging the viewer and calls for active, on-the-spot participation. The choice of language also plays a large role in the impact of the design; in 1967 this was still a very shocking word to see in print for most people.
Although this was 40 years ago, the message is as poignant today as it was then: we once again find ourselves mired in an unpopular foreign war with dubious motives and no clear end in sight.  I have to wonder if imagery like this was more effective in it’s time.  People today have seen so many things and become so jaded to visual input that it’s very difficult to jar them awake with something like this anymore. I think the 60’s were one of the first times it became almost mainstream for people to question the government, so ideas like these were still new and somewhat disquieting for many.