Will there be War- Lester Beall

A personal favorite of mine from Lester Beall’s collection would be his “Will there be War poster.” Winston Churchill is one of my favorite historical figures from World War 11, and to see this legendary artist use Churchill for one of his pieces got me excited. Beall was commissioned by the Crowell Publishing Company to make this masterpiece design. This poster was released on June 3rd, 1939 which was the same month as “Hitler’s Nightmare.” One of the reasons why I admire Churchill so much is because of how instrumental he was during the war. Especially when predicting the horrors that would occur in the UK and the rise of the tyrant known as Adolf Hitler. Beall’s poster does a fantastic job of capturing those events that Churchill foreshadowed by asking the question of “Will there be War” while creating an aesthetically pleasing design to go with it. This piece will forever be distilled in time as one of the best pieces that Lester Beall has done.

Now as for the work itself, I believe it to be a visual masterpiece. I believe that most people would immediately be drawn to the giant red print that consumes most of the page. Then afterward, the viewer is greeted with a photo of Churchill himself at an angular angle. The angle makes Churchill look at though he is ready for anything that may happen. The choice of background and foreground complement each other quite nicely. Also, the green border does a fine job of closing in the negative space

Following that would be the choice of typography, which I found to be quite interesting. The first three words “Will There Be” are all in capital letters with a small font. Then on the right side of Churchill, the word “War” the letters are not capitalized (except for “W”) and the word is enlarged. Not only that, but Beall decided to offset the “a” and the “r” from the “W.” I am not too sure why he did this, but it works for some reason. One reason I think he might have done this is that of the spacing of the poster and the fact that the Churchill photo cuts off the world flow. Overall, I found this poster to be one of the most historically important pieces in graphic design history.


Biography by R. Roger Remington  March 01. “1992 AIGA Medalist: Lester Beall.” AIGA | the Professional Association for Design, 1992, www.aiga.org/medalist-lesterbeall.