Keep Calm and Rip Off

Do you know the story of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster?

The story goes that it was a poster created during World War II to increase morale in England.  It was a part of a series of posters, but this specific poster was only released in very limited numbers, due to the outbreak of the war getting in the way of the printing schedule.  Then, in 2000, a copy of the poster was found in a bookstore.  Because it had been over 50 years, the image was public domain.  It has since been reprinted countless times both in its original form and in many, many modified forms.

Isn’t that great?  I think it’s such a wonderful story – like finding buried treasure.  This lost image, so graphic and bold and comforting being lost for so long and then reemerging.  The graphic and typography seems to modern, so fresh, you would never know how old it is.

Of course, with its popularity has brought the parodies.  It seems like you can’t look anywhere without finding some spin on this popular image.  Here’s just a few that I’ve come across…

For reals, there’s one for everything you can possibly imagine.

It just makes me sad.  Such a simple, beautiful message has been reduced to a cliche so incredibly quickly.  It’s just lost all meaning.

Am I being elitist?  Should I celebrate the fact that a public domain image is being reimagined by so many people?  Or are there some things that should be left well enough alone?


One thought on “Keep Calm and Rip Off

  1. I love the message of stoicism. There's something to be said for a stiff upper lip. And I think you should celebrate the parodies, because they represent the possibility of creativity. But just like a cover version, the original is always best.


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