The Victory Garden of Tomorrow: Produce Propaganda for the Modern Era
Portland, Oregon-based graphic designer Joe Wirtheim is quite the American history buff. When pressed on the World War II era, he is a bottomless pit of information. One gets the sense his annual stint as a Washington, D.C. tour guide might have something to do with it. The historical angle pervades his art as well. Case in point: his series of World War II-era propaganda posters, The Victory Garden of Tomorrow.
The idea comes from WPA posters that were printed near the end of World War II, commanding citizens to plant "victory gardens" to help supply produce during rationing and to get involved in the war effort on a day-to-day basis. The bold posters pronounced active encouragements a la "Grow More in '44," "Grow it Yourself," or "Grow Vitamins at Your Kitchen Door."
Wirtheim's posters channel the style and the "active-voice
propaganda," but update the general message. They encourage
buying local produce, lowering carbon emissions, composting, and recycling, among other things. Wirtheim feels that the idea is just as important now as it was almost 70 years ago. "This generation has something in common with the generation that went through World War II," he said. "They're excited to get out there and do something."
The underlying principle is what Wirtheim calls "a mobilized effort for the home front." Fittingly, The
Victory Garden of Tomorrow has taken its hold in Portland, Wirtheim's home front. The posters have been shown in many local cafes as well as the mayor's office. But the series has steadily been gaining national exposure. Most recently, Wirtheim's work has appeared in Martha Stewart Living, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune.
Entering his sixth year working on The Victory Garden, Wirtheim shows no signs of letting up. He is currently at work on posters for 2012, which are expected to be released in March. You can take a look at the entire series here, and watch for updates as the new year rolls along.
--Justin Cohn / posters by Joe Wirtheim