Illustrations of the 50’s


In today’s world there are many forms of advertising. There’s the use of television, radio, posters, and even social media. While the fifties had the use of things like television and radio; the most influential form of advertisement, was the use of “illustrations”. This form of advertisement was used to promote consumerism, to create the legacies of symbolic figures; like Elvis Presley, illustrations were even used to change the view people had about sexual freedom. (Skender 2009)

The strength of the economy was a lot better than what it was in the forties. According to Martina Skender, from Fuel Your Illustration, “During the 50’s the average salary in the USA went up by 50%, a middle class arouse, credit card was introduced…” The change in the economy started the spread of consumerism. Since men were now getting longer hours, the ability to buy a car improved; and companies took advantage of that. During the fifties there were a ton of new brands and products introduced. And the “Leave it to Beaver” family lifestyle is what families strived to become.

During the fifties, not only was their improvement in the economy, but there was a change of what got youth excited. According to Skender, “Young people wanted new and exciting symbols of rebellion and Hollywood responded. Anti-hero’s like Marlon Brando took on the role, and sexy non conformist anti-heroines like Marilyn Monroe added excitement.” While movies were used for the creation of these rebellious characters; the use of illustrations was a key source of advertisement for the movie and television industries. (Skender 2009)

Along with illustrations being used to create the rebellious symbols that young people craved, illustrations were also used to change people’s views on sexual freedom. During the fifties Pin Up girls grew popular. It was very common to see illustrations of Pin Up girls in businesses, restaurant, theatre, clubs, and locker rooms. Pin Up girls were considered to have changed the view of sexual freedom, because the illustrations consisted of “beautiful” women dressed in lingerie or some sort of sexual clothing. That fact that these illustrations were used so much in public changed the view of sexual freedom in the fifties. (Skender 2009)

If one was to approach illustrations through ministry. One would probably try to warn others of false advertisement, and how to deal with temptations it could bring.

The fifties saw a lot of change; it saw a change in economy, life style, and changed the way people thought about sex and strived for rebellion. While advertising styles have changed since the fifties, many of the things that were the focused on in the fifties are still focused on today. There are still advertisements the focus on consumerism, trend setters, and sexual freedom. It’s like Turner says, “the change of technology doesn’t just mean the same message is transmitted in a different format. It also shapes the message.” (Turner 2013)



Works Cited

Skender, Martina. Inspiration/History. September 21, 2009. (accessed April 21, 2014).

Turner, Steve. Popcultured. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2013.