When History Goes Mainstream: ‘KEEP CALM AND…’

Have you ever seen the words ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’ emblazoned on a graphic t-shirt, meme or a poster? Odds are you’ve just answered “yes”. If you’re in the minority who probably said “no” then let me introduce you to one of the trendiest designs and give you a very brief history lesson to top things off.

This is a design that captured my attention the first time I saw it in 2012. I loved the simplicity of it all and how powerful and memorable the statement was. Having seen it so much in the mainstream on social media platforms especially, it has managed to peak my curiosity and that made me want to find its origin. Albert Einstein once said, “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” I’ve never lost mine. Life’s more fun that way.

After doing some reading, this is what I stumbled across… one of the two remaining originals. A rare find, considering that there was once over two million prints. Below is my summary of the genesis of this remarkable poster in three sentences.

The image shown is a scan of an original 1939 Keep Calm and Carry On poster. A propaganda poster produced by the British government during the start of WWII. The goal was to raise British morale in the event of a Nazi invasion of Great Britain.

Pretty cool huh? Now you know the history.