Cyril Kenneth Bird ‘Fougasse’ (1887 – 1965)

Careless Talk Costs Lives (circa 1940)


Lithographic poster

32 x 20 cm (12.5 x 8 in)

Version printed on thinner paper.

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

As the Second World War progressed, the Ministry of Information’s poster campaign had become less and less effective. There were posters instructing the population to save old clothes for rags, turn off the lights, save food, dig for victory, watch out for spies, and keep calm and carry on. With this instruction overload, the population had ceased paying attention to the posters. Fougasse noticed this, and offered his services unpaid to the Ministry of Information, with a view to bringing a touch of humour to the posters. His amusing designs with pithy captions, reminiscent of newspaper cartoons, helped to get the Ministry’s messages across in a novel way.

Fougasse’s distinctive poster style, with the red border, was subsequently adopted by other Ministry artists.

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