The occupy mobilizations have become famous, or perhaps infamous, for their creative, homemade cardboard signage. But across the country, graphic designers are stepping in as well to bring their particular expertise to the effort to craft a visual language for occupiers. These artists, either independently or as subcommittees of occupy mobilizations, are using graphic design to inspire, to diversify the movement, and to educate others about economic inequality.
Occupy Design is a group of designers, artists, and organizers, seeking to “provide a universal visual toolset for the Occupy movement which crosses language barriers and brings a strong visual identity to the movement.” They are calling for people to submit work, and have launched their site with a set of “infographics” that communicate the core concepts of economic inequality in ways that transcend language. It is their way of contributing to a unifying message for the movement.
The Occupied Wall Street Journal is apparently going to be printing posters in an upcoming issue, and Favianna Rodriguez, an artist with Justseeds Artist Cooperative, has shared her piece for it, the poster shown at the beginning of this post. As a woman of Color and a Latina, Favianna is using her art to connect the often majority-white Occupy movement to the Latin@ community. Meanwhile, in my home town of Boston, the Occupy Boston Art Squad formed out of the mobilization, with some a Boston-specific logo and some simple text-based posters. And, most famously, Shepard Fairey designed an invitation for Occupy Wall Street.
Favianna Rodriguez has a great blog post on the role of artists in the Occupy movement. I recommend you visit her site to read it all, but I’ll share her tips here:
I believe that its important that artists and cultural workers in particular think of how we can participate in this anti-capitalismt movement in THREE WAYS:
1) Develop cultural projects (posters, street art, plays, stories, songs) that help ALL people (not just white people) see HOW the financial crisis is relevant to them and why NOW is a key moment. This is what I would call, “Intersectional Work” – where we address the financial crisis and its relationship to criminal justice, to migrant rights, and to the dramatic loss of wealth in communities of color.
2) Develop cultural projects that build momentum to the narrative that is the 99%. The power of this large concept is key. We have to keep folks excited, and continue to push out larger concepts such as the 99%, or the “Wall Street is Ruining Your Life” meme. This meta narrative must continue to blossom and thrive. In other words, bust out the anti-capitalist work, that message is what lots of folks are hungry for.
3) Cultural projects attached to specific actions. I think its key to connect folks to specific things they can do now, such as the forgiveness of student debt, which I recently saw circulated on MoveOn. The fact that this movement is largely decentralized, means we can support many struggles at the same time. We don’t need just one campaign, we need thousands of them.