“Mommy, Where Do Keep Calm Posters Come From?”

“Keep Calm and Carry On” was a propaganda poster produced by the Ministry of Information for the British government in 1939 during the beginning of the Second World War. The intention was to raise the morale of the British public in the aftermath of a widely predicted mass air attack on major cities. However the poster was never publicized and little was known of it.

The “Keep Calm” poster was the third in a series of three. The other two, “Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might” and “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory”, were issued and used across Britain during the first weeks of the war. They were designed and reproduced to be ready and in place within 24 hours of the outbreak.

The posters were designed with an icon of a “Tudor” crown on top (a widely used symbol of government authority) and the slogans were created by civil servants, emphasizing the duty of the individual Brit citizen and doubling as a rallying war-cry.

In 2000, a British shopkeeper, rummaging through a box of used books bought at an auction, uncovered one of the original limited edition posters…

…and the rest, as they say, is history.

Much of the warlike-ness behind the design of the poster has been removed now that modern media has gotten hold of it and you can see many variations on the original idea up and down the online social media ladder ranging from the idiotic to the sublime. There’s even a site where you can create your own “Keep Calm” poster.

Go ahead, knock yourself out mate.






keep calm and kiss me


Amy Conton is a freelance writer and graphic designer living in New York, USA.