The Daily Heller: Remember When All We Worried About Was Smoking?

Posted inThe Daily Heller
Thumbnail for The Daily Heller: Remember When All We Worried About Was Smoking?

Well, smoking wasn't the only calamity on the horizon, but it accounted for a fair share of warning posters and bills. Public awareness (aka pro bono, public service, propaganda) campaigns have a long and rich history, notably in the UK. Some of the best designers, maybe all of England's graphic designers, have engaged in at least one such project in their lifetimes. Earlier this month I posted about Tom Eckersley's cautionary posters for Britain's National Safety First Association. Today I showcase an aggressive anti-smoking campaign created by two designer partners whose work was previously unknown to me, but blends Midcentury photo-modernism with a comic abstract sensibility.

Reginald Mount (1906–1979) was born Edward Reginald Mount. He was a designer for advertising agencies in London in the 1930s, then joined the Ministry of Information at the outbreak of World War II. Throughout the war, Mount worked extensively with the designer Eileen Evans (1921–2006). Together, they produced many posters for the Ministry's public awareness and propaganda output, including an effective anti-venereal disease campaign in 1943–1944.

Mount headed one of the design teams, with a particular focus on poster design. After the war he combined freelance design work with part-time work at the Central Office of Information, and also became a consultant designer for the Central Office of Information's Art Services Section.

Evans studied commercial art at the Reimann School in London from 1937–1939. In 1939 she joined the Ministry of Information, becoming a member (and then second in charge) of Mount's design team. The two continued to work together after the war, and were known as Mount/Evans, though they also undertook individual commissions. Mount was responsible for the art and design side of things while Evans concentrated on the typography, layout and maps. Their anti-smoking and road safety poster campaigns both won awards, and the duo's papers are held at the Victoria and Albert Museum's Archive of Art and Design.

The posters below, issued in the late-1950s/'60s by the Ministry of Health, arrived thanks to my trusted research companion Jeff Roth.