Here at Print Express, we’re hugely inspired by all kinds of different design styles (and it’s no surprise, given how much art and design we see on a daily basis). But there’s one art style that I’ve been fascinated with for years, although only recently learned the name of: WPA art.
What is WPA art? WPA stands for the Works Progress Administration. It was an American initiative set up in 1935 by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Henry Hopkins to help employ and provide economic relief to the American public during the Great Depression. Projects included improving roads, constructing public buildings, parks and bridges. One famous example of a public building created as a result of the WPA is the Griffith Observatory – that well known Los Angeles landmark.
But here’s why I’m talking to you about the Works Progress Administration today – these projects often resulted in posters advertising these public spaces. From posters advertising visiting the zoo to art classes to national parks, all manner of posters and artwork was created to help spread awareness. And the fascinating thing about all of this artwork is that it had it’s own style of the time, and much of that style influences advertising today.
The WPA style of artwork is characterised by highly saturated colour palettes, often heavy on the contrast and with a brilliantly retro style of typography which often resulted in absolutely stunning posters. The vintage appearance shouldn’t be a surprise, given that it’s an art style that existed mainly from 1935 when the initiative was started up to 1943 when it ended. I’ve brought together a collection of artwork that’s all been heavily inspired by the artwork that rose out of the WPA era – and I hope that you find it as fascinating as I do.
So there you have it – our showcase of art and design all inspired by the WPA direction of the 30s and 40s. I hope you’ve found this showcase to be a useful source of inspiration, and if you’ve used this design style for anything, we’d love to see it!