Keep Calm And Make Posters [Review]

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This simple image has become a cliché in the UK in recent years, and is now much parodied and remixed everywhere you look. Now you can remix it yourself, thanks to a variety of (very similar-looking) apps for iOS.

First, some background. The phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” was one of three invented for use by the UK authorities during the Second World War, intended to reassure frightened citizens during the darkest days of German bombardment. But the poster itself never saw the light of day, until a copy was unearthed in a bookshop back in 2000.

The bookshop was Barter Books, and the story didn’t end there. Hung on the wall, the poster appealed to customers who started asking for prints. So prints were made. And then it snowballed.

You can now see Keep Calm posters in every cafe, Keep Calm mugs in every store, and Keep Calm-inspired design almost everywhere.

The full story is explained in this video from Barter Books:

No wonder, then, that Keep Calm apps have appeared on the App Store. Search for “Keep Calm” and you’ll see loads of them. (In an earlier version of this post, I got mixed up myself – apologies to all concerned for that.)

Barter Books has gone into the apps business, and launched its own app, which is free for the time being. It tells you the full story behind the slogan, as well as letting you devise your own versions.

As well as the newer Barter Books version, there’s also one by Back Bay Bytes, which does much the same job but will cost you a dollar.

Stop working and play games

Your iPhone is ringing answer it

The “official” Barter Books app has a slightly slicker text editing interface, but doesn’t offer a range of icon options to place above the text. Back Bay Bytes’ offering might be a tiny bit rougher round the edges, but is more flexible.

Despite getting hopelessly confused about which app is which, I enjoyed playing with both of them and coming up with some slogans of my own. I think they would come in unexpectedly useful when travelling, to send back insta-postcards to loved ones with a photo and a summary of what’s happening.

UPDATED to clear up app identify confusion. Apologies.