The making of the 1938 poster
FIFA World Football Museum
TOP SCORER Leônidas da Silva, Brazil’s first superstar, is often credited for inventing the ”bicycle kick” so portraying him performing it was a no-brainer. Below is a photo used as reference to the stance. To the right is a shot containing the official ball which is also featured in the portrait. Note the white shirt; Brazil switched to their famous yellow shirts after the tournament in 1950. The Brazilian team crest read ”CBD” until 1980 when it was changed to ”CBF”.
GIUSEPPE MEAZZA With reference material being scarce this portrait proved a struggle. In every reference shot available Meazza’s appearance seemed to shift dramatically. Some people are like that, sort of ever-changing on a daily basis. It is a challenge to capture such looks but very satisfying when it is achieved. The portrait also called for some research on the team logo for Inter Milan. When Meazza played for the club in the thirties its name was Associazione Sportiva Ambrosiana-Inter and subsequently the logo looked different from todays. The fake postcard on the right, based on a poster design from the era, was in the end not used.
SILVIO PIOLA IN THE ALL BLACK KIT The portrait of feared striker Silvio Piola tells multiple stories. Apart from depicting a significant player the image illustrates the controversy in the Italian team´s wake. Regarded as marionettes to Mussolini the team was frequently met with booing spectators when playing abroad. Coach Vittorio Pozzo is not believed to have been a fascist supporter but he and the team certainly did precious little to distance themselves from the dictator during the World Cup of 1938. In their quarter-final against hosts France the Italian team showed up in a shocking all black kit which was seen as a homage to fascism. Below is a study for the Piola image and a caricature of Vittorio Pozzo which was not developed further.
WINNERS IN COLOUR Questionable loyalties aside the Italian team of 1938 was very strong and managed to defend their title in spite of hostile crowds. From a purely footballing perspective their win was impressive and deserved a treat. The originally black and white photo was therefore painstakingly colorized. The result hopefully shortens the distance in time and makes the event more vivid to a modern public.
TYPOGRAPHY Typography is what you make it out to be. Certainly some fonts are better designed and more beautiful than others. Though in this project all typography was chosen first and foremost for their illustrative features. The need for zeitgeist was given overriding power to personal taste. The same attitude was applied on kerning and spacing. Perfect type is not always the perfect storytelling. The odd and the faulty can sometimes be just right. Above is an adjusted version of the font Desdemona. The original shape is equal to the white line so a frail basic look was converted into something heavier that could carry more texture. Below is another example on benefits from using a quirky font. Note how the quite odd letter shape of ”S” adds movement and a graphic twist as it both begins and ends the name Stade Olympique de Colombes.
FRANCE 1938 An old type specimen served as inspiration to the France 1938 logo that was produced for this poster. The typeface evoked associations to the cherished Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau when Paris was undoubtedly one of the leading, if not the leading city in the world. Even though Art Nouveau was not the height of fashion in 1938 it still felt like the right choice of typography. After all, trends and styles did not change quite so rapidly back then and Art Nouveau never completely died out. Parisian metro signs still reminds commuters of graphic design from that period in time.
PHOTO GEMS Two photos of particular interest. The shot on the left shows Brazilian star Leônidas da Silva and team mates having a meal. With plenty to drink given modern standards. Attitudes towards smoking and drinking were more relaxed back then. The shot on the right is both disturbing and moving. The empty and resigned look on the German players wearing kits decorated with the swastika tells the story of the decade to come. For many in the photos from 1938 the future was brutally short.