protesting through visual language
I was one of 500,000+ attendees at the Women’s March on Washington, and one of the 3.3 million + that marched in over 500 US cities. A day that is already being considered one of the largest demonstrations in U.S. history.
I marched for myself, my mother, sister, grandmothers, aunts, friends, and millions of women I have never met. It’s safe to say I have never been in a crowd so large, so respectful, and one where everyone had a unified message – fighting for women’s rights. Because women’s rights are human rights. It was a day I will never forget.
As a designer, I’m accustomed to translating a thought or idea into a visual representation. But sometimes words and images are not enough. Words, images, and massive crowds of people, used collectively, can transform a nation. This mentality was owned by hundreds of thousands of women and men of all ages, using a visual language to represent their thoughts, feelings, frustrations and support.
One thing that has stuck with me is the images of the signs left behind – scattered on the streets, sprawled outside Metro stations and lining the fence of the White House – it was not only a reminder of the mixed feelings amongst the crowd, but also the sheer amount of people that had congregated only hours before.
As Angela Davis said in her speech that day at the Women’s March, “history cannot be deleted like webpages”. And these signs cannot be deleted like tweets. Museums are already archiving the signage left behind to capture this moment in time. A literal time capsule of this moment in history.
our role as designers
In addition to handmade posters, there was exclusive artwork created specifically for the march (and sister marches). In most cases, this artwork was released for free.
As other designers may know, plagiarism, copyright infringements, and legal consequences of using others artwork without permission are issues frequently surrounding our field of work. But this day, this was not the case; this was different. It was not about making a profit or personal gain, but a moment that designers could step up and give a voice to so many who needed it.
It’s times like these that we can step up and provide something that doesn’t seem like it would make a difference, but I think last weekend has shown us otherwise.
These are some of the hidden heroes behind the artwork seen spread across social media and the news.
Most known for his President Obama Hope poster, Shepard has become a designer prominent in political commentary. With the upcoming election and Women’s Marches planned worldwide, he publicly released special edition prints tied around the theme of equality, inclusiveness, and unity.
In addition to releasing the prints, he also took out full page ads in the New York Times, Washington Post and USATODAY to help spread his message.
— Shepard Fairey (@OBEYGIANT) January 21, 2017
Paper Jam Press & CounterType
Paper Jam Press & CounterType created posters that they distributed, for free, for the March in New York. Since they were available for download online I was able to snag two posters, and was proud to represent my fellow designers in Washington!
— Paper Jam Press (@PaperJamPress) January 21, 2017
Design firm Thoughtmatter created a Kickstarter to help print and distribute posters. With a small contribution, users could download and print their own posters at home.
Posters available at sister marches in: Chicago, Austin, ParkCity, Philly, Seattle, SanFran, Indianapolis, Raleigh, Charlotte, Denver, Maui. pic.twitter.com/8wBNhb4PuY
— ThoughtMatter (@ThoughtMttr) January 20, 2017
Most recently known for his Time magazine meltdown cover. Edel made a public Facebook post giving permission to use all of his artwork for the purpose of marching.
The majority of the crowd created their own signs, bringing their own unique message and spin on why they march. There were some amazing creative signs in the crowd, and the below images were some of my favorites.