Weapons Drawn

“For some, protest is fashion. For Seymour, it’s his conscience,” – this is Steven Heller on the legendary graphic artist Seymour Chwast, who’s powerful anti-war book is funding now on Kickstarter.

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Seymour Chwast at War with War: An Illustrated Timeline of 5000 Years of Conquests, Invasions, and Terrorist Attacks is the newest chapter in 85-year-old Chwast’s lifelong interest in and activism against war. In his unparalleled practice as an artist and designer in the United States, Chwast has been a radical influence, founding Push-Pin Studios with Milton Glaser in 1954, he has smashed boundaries and expectations in graphic design in almost every medium from posters and advertising to recored covers and children’s books.

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Chwast's 1968 poster "War is Good Business, Invest Your Son"

With his characteristic way of cutting through conventional thought and the accepted norms of the establishment, Chwast describes his fascination with the subject of war: “It’s the ongoing relentlessness of the thing, the seemingly never-ending urge to resolve disputes with deadly conflict, century after century. That’s the nagging notion through the years that keeps bringing me back to the subject of war.”

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Chwast's 1967 anti-war poster "End Bad Breath"

The book charts 5000 years of war with a timeline punctuated by original illustrations by Chwast printed offset in black, with text letterpress printed in red. Rewards for the book’s backers on Kickstarter include rarities from Chwast’s personal archive.

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Spread from "At War With War" by Seymour Chwast

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Detail of Haitian Revolution, from "At War with War."

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From "At War with War," Iraq War, 2006.

“Seymour’s desire was to present his reaction to war in its purest form,” says Heller, who is the book’s editor. “To put his gut on the page. To set aside his interest in color and mixed media and use what would allow him to focus on the ideas alone: marker on paper; just black on white. His technique serves the content and the intention — to viscerally connect with the audience and bring front and center the horror and waste that is war”.

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Among the Kickstarter rewards – rare copies of Chwast’s "A Book of Battles," 1957

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Among the Kickstarter rewards – an original four-colour mechanical for a book Chwast designed and co-authored, "Graphic Style."

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Chwast's 1967 poster "Visit Dante's Inferno."

Back the book on Kickstarter before Friday 10 June

Find out more about Seymour Chwast and Push-Pin Studios

The book is supported by Designers & Books.

On Tuesday May 24, New York’s esteemed Cooper Union marks the 65th graduation anniversary of one of its most famous alumni, Seymour Chwast, who will spend an evening talking about his life as a designer, activist, and author. Joining him will be design writer Steven Heller. A reception follows the talk, and both Chwast and Heller will sign copies of their most recent books.