Cyril Kenneth Bird (1887-1965), ‘Fougasse’

The cartoonist Fougasse, was a British cartoonist who was art editor of Punch 1937-1949, and subsequently editor until 1953. He is best known for his ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’ series of posters, and the other posters both for the Ministry of Information, London Underground and others.

The Ministry of Information’s wartime poster campaign was soon regarded as dull and uninspiring on account of its hectoring messages such as ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’ There were posters telling the population how to conduct virtually every minute of their daily lives – for instance by saving old clothes for rags, turning off the lights, saving food, digging for victory, or watching out for spies. With this instruction overload the population ceased paying attention to the posters, so Fougasse offered his services to the Ministry of Information unpaid, with a view to bringing a touch of humour to serious messages. An amusing picture and a pithy caption helped to get the message across to the reader.

His distinctive style, with the red border, was adopted by other Ministry artists.