The posters of Abram Games
August 22, 2017
Born the day after World War I broke out, a child of immigrant Jewish parents living in London’s East End, Abram Games (1914-1996) was one of the twentieth century’s great graphic designers.
In a career spanning more than 60 years, Abram produced some of Britain’s most memorable images and designs, for a client list that included the United Nations, London Transport, British Airways, Shell, the Financial Times, and Guinness. He designed stamps for Britain, Jersey, and Israel, book jackets for Penguin, and emblems for the Festival of Britain and the Queen’s Award for Industry.
London Transport: A Train Every 90 Seconds, 1937.
By the time he was called up for army service in 1940, 24 of his posters had been published, and after a year in the infantry he was posted to Whitehall to work in an attic studio, producing maps, book covers, insignias, and more than 100 posters. In 1942, upon promotion to Captain, he was appointed Official War Poster Artist — the only person in army history to be given the title.
Join the ATS, 1941.
Use Spades, Not Ships, 1942.
Demobilised in 1946, Abram resumed his freelance career, working in a studio entirely alone and taking responsibility for every aspect of his designs from conception to print.
See Britain by Train, 1951.
United Nations: Freedom from Hunger, 1962.
His influence crossed over to TV when he created the BBC’s first on-screen ident, also known as the “bat’s wings” (below, with original music by the late harpist Sidonie Goossens).
Anti-smoking poster, unpublished, 1970.
Abram Games was awarded the OBE in 1958 and appointed a Royal Designer for Industry in 1959.
High quality poster reproductions are available from King & McGaw and abramgamesposters.com.
Designing the 20th Century, Jewish Museum