Bradbury Thompson – America At War

Embroiled in the middle of a global conflict that was neither wanted nor supported by the United States population, Bradbury Thompson was tasked with the unenviable challenge of shifting the public sentiment away from isolationism, and towards a confident and revitalized interest in defending the world abroad, even at the cost of the lives of US citizens and allies.


The example I chose for analysis with this project review is this America At War spread, linked as the feature image above. These two spreads, designed for the Office Of War Information in 1952 ( demonstrate the design language of Bradbury Thompson clearly, through his conscious use of large color blocks, alternating patterns of several bright colors, and an emphasis on strong, simple geometry.

On the left hand side, we see a spread making use of light blue, pink, black, and yellow, most of which are not colors typically associated with war-time imagery. However, Bradbury Thompson uses these colors in juxtaposition to the imagery of bombers and gunner scopes to attract the reader to take a closer look. The implication is that this spread is not your ordinary wartime propaganda poster. These colors would continue to be staples of Bradbury Thompson’s work far into his career, often serving as somewhat of a calling card to the bright and eye-catching art-deco lite style that he himself helped inspire.

On the right hand side, we see a much simpler but still related design, this time making use of a far more limited and typical color palette to deliver a simpler message. “America is at war.” The striking type of this design, combined with the patriotic use of colors is meant to evoke emotions of national pride and strength, aiding the public perception of the war effort. While this design doesn’t make use of Thompson’s favorite colors, it does evidently make use of his preferred style of simple geometry, striking type, and varied colors to draw attention to viewers.

Image courtesy of, article from which it was located is linked in the first paragraph of this review.)