DIY WPA Art Prints

September 21, 2007

I recently came across an image of a WPA poster promoting good dental hygiene:


I thought it was a very fun poster, and perfect for our bathroom, which is in desperate need of some art after we remodeled it a few years ago.

I did some Googling to see if I could find a print of it. I did find many sites selling glicee copies, but no originals. I figured I might as well ink-jet it myself if I’m just going to get a glicee print.

It then occurred to me that being a WPA print, there must be a government archive of these somewhere. Sure enough, The Library of Congress has these all online. As a bonus, they have a lot of them as hi-res scans. Though their definition of ‘hi-res’ isn’t going to provide you with many poster-size reproductions, they’re certainly high enough quality for some DIY 8×10 framed prints.

Some more examples include this great print:


And I think this one is my favorite. Perfect for the kids room. I have no idea what it’s promoting, but it’s fun:


And while I might not hang these in my home, there’s also an impressive number of syphilis themed prints as well:


A secondary bonus is that these all being WPA-sponsored prints, they are copyright free as our tax monies paid for them. So get the ink jet warmed up and start printing some great, free art for the home.

And do get tested for syphilis.

UPDATE: I decided I wanted a version of the Teeth poster in a bit higher resolution than they offered, so took the time to retrace it as a vector illustration (download PDF)


3 Responses to “DIY WPA Art Prints”

  1. The NY airport print is a beauty indeed. You don’t happen to have a link to the image, do you? When I tried to search the LOC archives 8 years ago, it was a chore. Can’t imagine it’s changed much since then, but I can’t be bother to look myself 🙂

  2. brokesnob said


    As far as I can tell, they are using some arcane, session variable laden, querystring based system that makes any specific link to a search result rot in a matter of hours. So, go to the first link in the above article, type in ‘airplane’ and it’s the 3rd result.

    The hasn’t quite figured out quality web and interface design yet. ;o)

  3. jlt said

    Hi Darrell. I came to your website through a comment on Hewn & Hammered, and was happy to see this post on WPA posters. I’m a HUGE fan of the WPA, and Ben Shahn particularly who you may know did many posters and worked as a photographer for the WPA and Farm Administration and other similar era gov’t projects.

    Yes, you can’t bookmark them – it’s a huge pain – but there is a HUGE treasure trove of posters there, some at VERY high resolutions and others at very low resolutions. If you can’t find the one you want at a high res, keep searching, sometimes they have the same art as 3 or 4 different entries, each at a different resolution.

    I’ve found some really nice ones through that American Memory project.


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