Apr 13



One of my goals with design work for movements, beyond making effective tools for education or outreach, is to avoid waste by producing things that people might want to keep – to make ‘keep sakes’ that hold memories and meaning (including as aesthetic objects). I’m not sure how progressive that impulse ultimately is, but it’s definitely there.

While working on a postcard for an upcoming event, I had the opportunity to sort through my personal collection from social movement and cultural events, and consider which ones I liked the most. I’m sharing a few of my favourites here, though I’ve focused only on the front sides. Balancing the text-heavy content of the reverse is its own art.

I guess postcards, or rave cards as I’ve also heard them called, signify access to more time (for the turn-around of a print shop) and resources ($$$) than say, a quarter-page flyer printed on regular paper at home, school, work, or a 24-hour copy shop. So it often feels like there’s been considerable thinking about the design as well.

4×6 seems to be the standard format. Over 90% of the postcards in my stack are 4×6 inches. A couple are smaller and a handful are larger (I find the large ones a little unwieldy and less pocket friendly). 4×6 is a familiar size for travel postcards and personal photographs.

Organizers primarily use postcards for outreach and education, however a few double as actual postcards for mailing, particularly those that are not date-specific. Some are for personal use while others are produced with a campaign in mind and are intended to be mailed to someone like a Minister in government.

One thing that is often overlooked about outreach materials is the personal dimension. Postcards tend to be exchanged hand-to-hand or picked-up from a particular location where they’ve been dropped off. But because of their DIY immediacy, flyers still have the most personal feel.

Interestingly, none of my favourites are based on traditional photographs – they’re colourful combinations of hand-drawn (or painted/printed) and digital illustration styles. The postcard on the bottom left (of the header image) looks like an actual rave flyer, but it’s from the TRIP Project, which totally makes sense. The CURE postcard on the far right is bilingual with French on one side and English on the other.

Update: I added five more of my favourites. I like them so much that I included two with strong photographic elements (even though it contradicts what I wrote above), and bent the rules to include the CAIA bookmark.

They’re all from collectives or projects based in Toronto or Montreal, with the exception of The Revolution Starts at Home, which still has a Toronto connection via co-editor Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarsinha.

I haven’t done the research to put the production and distribution of these postcards in context. They’ve been chosen based on my own subjective aesthetic preferences. But as campaign tools, how effective were they? And did the design process reflect the values of the organizations (in terms of labour, sourcing materials, production)? I’d like to know.

Jul 12

Love & Rage Helmet

Love / Rage

I started this blog just over two years ago.

One of my first posts featured a custom-painted bike helmet. This here is my second one.

At the time, I was inspired by finally learning to bike the summer before – and also by my love of graphics by Justseeds. Like getting back on a bike, I wanted to push myself to try something I had long given up on – making an “art” with my own hands (or at least, not solely with a computer).

This new helmet idea didn’t require the same stencil-painting technique, just lots of drawing (and erasing) directly on the helmet with a pencil as a guide for a painting, and some much appreciated help from Sheila with the anarchist heart on the front.

Some fierce friends talk about putting on armour for everyday battles – interactions with bosses, misogynist street harassers, faceless bureaucracies, capitalist vampires, and the like.

This helmet was made with that in mind, as a piece of armour imbued with the spirit of love and rage.

Front / Back

Apr 12

Photoshop WTF

Photoshop WTF: A Short Guide to Using Photoshop for Political Posters (view/download below)

My first zine! Or mini-zine. Inspiration came out of Radical Design School workshops and my Popular Education class with Yogi. I followed this style of template, but I used an actual zine as a guide instead – a cool double-sided one by Kenji Tokawa on silk screening that a friend gave me.

I’m looking forward to getting some feedback so I can find out if it’s useful and/or if people hit snags. It’s super-short, but hopefully once people give it a try, they’ll be interested in learning more. I’d be open to expanding it in the future, or taking on other subjects, or other folks taking on their own subjects with the WTF theme. Requests?

Download (PDF, 1.14MB)

Print Version


Apr 12

Migrant Justice Political Graphics

Migrant Justice Political Graphics: No One Is Illegal – Toronto (2003-2009)

I just finished making a batch of these booklets. When I originally designed this back in 2010, I didn’t have the resources to get it printed, so it’s nice to see this through, even though it’s been a while (and I wonder if I would have done this differently now).

I haven’t updated the content, but I did design a new cover and I included the design as a mini-poster centrefold that you can take out (fun!). One thing I learned from this process is that if you’re going to make a booklet, make sure the page count is a multiple of 4! Also, not all staples are created equal, something to keep in mind when you’re stapling through multiple pages.

Fittingly, the multi-lingual cover image was inspired by – or maybe more accurately, lifted from – the banner at the bottom of page 24, so it’s nice to have them together here.

You can download a copy of the booklet here (select the booklet printing option to get it to print correctly). And check out the digital archive on Flickr here.

Apr 12

May Day 2012

I made this poster for May Day here in Toronto. I wanted to try my hand at a 5.5×17 inch format, basically two posters to an 11×17 tabloid page, while thinking about all of those narrow electrical poles we try to put our posters up on.

It uses very minimal text, which has some obvious advantages and limitations – it allows the design to be visually striking and clearer from a distance, but doesn’t tell you a whole lot about what May Day is or why it matters.

And yes, that’s my fist in the image. One of my goals is to use my hand in more of my work, but I thought that meant drawing! And I want to locate myself in my work more, in terms of why I’m doing it. In this case, I’ve been helping to organize May Day marches with No One Is Illegal – Toronto since 2007.

The original idea was not to have a singular image, but a series, so we could scan a bunch of people’s fists, and put those into the posters. I like the variation of a series and the possibility of people putting up posters seeing themselves in the image and feeling a sense of ownership.

This poster below is by M1M, one of the three groups – along with No One Is Illegal – Toronto and (de)Occupy Toronto – trying to help coordinate the planning of the day this year, and it gives you a sense of some of the collective demands.

If you’re interested in seeing more May Day designs, the folks at Occuprint have been sharing new posters almost every day.

See you in the streets!

Update: My friend Hussan made a composite of Toronto May Day Posters!

Mar 12

I <3 Libraries

I just made this quick graphic in support of Toronto Public Library Workers, who are going on strike today.

The font I used didn’t have an ampersand or plus sign, but fortunately there was an ampersand sitting right there in the image! That’s Lincoln Cushing’s Visons of Peace & Justice (2007), which is about Inkworks Press in Berkeley.

For Print:

Letter Size

Ledger Size

I worked for the public library when I was high school, it was my first job ever. Even though I was part of the library union then, I didn’t actually know what that meant, and it never made itself known to me. Too bad, because I think it could have made a big difference for me and other younger workers.

After working in different union and non-union jobs, my idea of what a union is has definitely evolved over time. When I was working at a library again, this time while at university, my definition of union was what my closest co-workers and I were willing to do to support each other – and I actually felt quite supported.

I’m sure we benefited in many ways from having a legally-binding collective agreement and other formal supports in place, but as “casual” (meaning we were forced to re-apply for our jobs each new term) part-time workers who sometimes had supervisors who were part of the union, we were closer to the bottom wrung of the ladder, and working in such close proximity, we were the union, responsible for negotiating the nature of our working conditions every shift.

Nov 11

Conspiracy Poster Series

 For Adam

 For Peter

 For Erik

Didn’t plan to make these, it just sort of happened. Wonder if I can mail them … if not, I can at least talk about them in a letter.

Update #1: For Leah

Update #2: For Mandy

Update #3: For Alex



Amanda Hiscocks
Vanier Centre for Women
655 Martin Street
Box 1040
Milton ON
L9T 5E6


Alexander Hundert
Unit 6
Central North Correctional Centre
1501 Fuller Ave
Penetanguishene, ON
L9M 2H4

 Photo from Nov. 22 “Resist G20 Repression” rally

Photo in Poster #2 from Oh Paris on flickr … and I know, “lovers’ locks”, but I’m sure we can use our imaginations here…

Illustration in Poster #4 from Sheila Hewlett

Oct 11

No Masters of Revolutionary Arts

Produced this piece as a gift, inspired by Steve Lambert’s intervention (which I’ve mentioned before) and the degrees conferred by Rochdale College in Toronto (something which has also come up before)

Emma Goldman Institute For Anarchist Studies @ UC Davis c/o 1goodpotato

From the Rochdale College Museum:

“Tuition for the B.A. granting course is $25.00. Course length is 24 hours, and the degree will awarded on answering of a skill testing question. Tuition for the M.A. granting course is $50.00. During this course, the length of which will be determined by the student, the student will be required to answer a skill testing question of his choice. For a Ph.D. the tuition is $100.00 and there will be no questions asked.

We are also offering Non-Degrees at comparable rates. A Non-Ph.D. is $25.00. Course duration is your choice; requirements are simple, we ask that you say something. A Non-M.A. is $50.00 for which we require you to say something logical. A Non-B.A. is $100.00; you will be required to say something useful.”