Nov 12

Re-Purposing Political Posters

Hey it’s me checking in. I’m prepping with Radical Design School for our workshop during the OPIRGs’ Rebuilding Bridges conference.

Our session involves re-purposing (un-used) political posters to make notebooks. Should be fun and hopefully an opportunity to facilitate a good discussion about movement-building as well.

In the process of developing this workshop we came up with a neat list of some other possible projects. It’s not ideal, but sometimes after a big event or demo, there’s stacks of extra posters left over. And inevitably, when you’re making prints, there’s going to be some misprints that aren’t quite right.

Some become keepsakes for personal archives – tacked on to walls or tucked away for safe-keeping – but what can we do with the rest, the uncoveted remainder? Do posters need to have an expiry date? Can they have a second life? Another opportunity to speak out, maybe a chance to try doing something new?

I hope so!

Notebooks (Pamphlet Stitched)

The notebooks pictured here are pamphlet stitched. I learned about this simple technique from a little zine I got at TCAF called “6 Sweet Binding Techniques and How To Do Them!” by Beth Hetland. It recommends 4-8 sheets, but I went up to 16 without problems. This PDF by Booklyn Artists Alliance sums up the process pretty well. And more guides from them are available here.

Notebooks (Perfect Bound)

Perfect binding is great for creating longer books, but it requires a little more work. Lisa MacDonald did a workshop on perfect binding during the first RDS workshop series. Click for photos from the workshop and a PDF guide to perfect binding.


I did an earlier blog post on this, from when I made envelopes to hold DVDs and a booklet by No One Is Illegal – Toronto. You can cut straight to the how-to video here.

Book Jackets

For protecting your books and/or privacy, allowing you to wrap covers with your own personal propaganda. How-to video here.


I tried this tutorial and my only complaint is that for CDN bills, letter-size paper made wallets that were a little too small, and tabloid was way too big. Legal size paper or trimmed tabloid would be better.

Paper Bags

Haven’t tried this idea yet but it looks awesome.

Thank You Cards, Calling Cards, and Bookmarks can all be made out of chopped up pieces of (mis)prints on thicker paper stock.

Thanks to crafty paper crafters, the possibilities are almost endless … Sketch Paper, Paper Stencils, Paper Cut Outs, Paper Mache, Collages, Images for Buttons, Gift Wrap.

And check out this plan for a Woven Basket!

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.

Mar 12


I just finished a wonderful course on the ABCs of Letterpress with Akemi at Kozo Studio. I highly recommend it, it’s something I looked forward to every week, and was a great change of pace from all of the digital dependency in my work/life.

My first project (above), was printed with wood type on a Vandercook SP15. The two pieces below were also printed on the SP15, but with LEGO instead of wood or metal type!

I’ll definitely miss it — and will try to come back and rent some time in the future.

Below: Setting wood type by hand (always backwards), putting leading between characters, and furniture to keep the whole composition in place. Photo c/o Kozo Studio

Feb 12

Amandla! Israeli Apartheid Week, 8 Years Strong

Israeli Apartheid Week is right around the corner so I decided to post this image of IAW-Toronto posters over the past 8 years. IAW has spread from a single university campus in 2005 to 97 cities in 2011, proving that nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. The nature of this growth is reflected in the posters from 2009 onwards, which offer a general image for collaborating cities to customize based on the timing of their own events and language needs.

IAW was started by students at the University of Toronto. I arrived in time for the second IAW, but I was more or less oblivious. I remember seeing IAW represented in the student press as a snowball fight between Palestine supporters and Zionists. The message was that they were both equally detestable, which was effectively a victory for supporters of the status quo.

But over time the rabid condemnation of IAW has clearly backfired, only bringing greater attention to the BDS campaign, and more scrutiny of those who continue to make uninformed arguments about IAW being a hate-fest.

A lot can change in a year. By 2007 — after taking some time to educate myself and developing personal relationships with people doing this work – I was putting up IAW posters and helping out with events.

In 2009 some friends and I put up the poster on the right as a response to the tearing and defacement of Carlos Latuff’s IAW poster. At Carleton University in Ottawa, the administration saved vigilantes the hassle of doing their own censorship by banning the poster outright, an act that can’t be understood outside of the wider context of malfeasance by partisan administrators.

This year’s wonderful poster was designed by Nidal El Khairy, one of my favourite artists, who also created the images for 2010 and 2011. In my piece on migrant justice political graphics, I mention how his work is a good representation of the connection between Palestine solidarity and immigrant rights organizing:

While in Montreal, illustrator Nidal El Khairy worked with the Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees, one of many groups under the umbrella of Solidarity Across Borders. El Khairy draws Palestinians and his work is often used by the Palestine solidarity movement …

The intersections in El Khairy’s activism between migrant justice and Palestine solidarity is itself an illustration of how these struggles are linked. Palestinian refugees are denied the ability to return to their homeland due to the backing Israel receives from members of the international community such as Canada, while Canada and other states deny Palestinians the ability to move in their pursuit of dignity and respect [by deporting them to refugee camps]. 

No One Is Illegal March on Ottawa, 2005 (illustration by Nidal El Khairy)

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

Occupied Canada

The folks at Justseeds have done a great service sharing and producing graphics for the Occupy movement. They also put out a great account of screenprinting on-site at the Wall Street occupation (with a great title: “Occuprint Everything!”).

Here’s a few of my favourite designs from up north that speak to the necessary decolonization work that needs to be a central part of this movement.

As well, here’s three important pieces written by Jessica Yee, Syed Hussan and Harsha Walia.

-OCCUPY – The Game of Colonialism by ERIN KONSMO

 No Banks, No Borders, No Broken Treaties

May 11

Let Alvaro Stay

Image by Julio Salgado

A friend of mine, queer artist Alvaro Orozco, was picked up by immigration enforcement on Friday. We are organizing to try to stop his deportation.

Update #3: We Stopped Alvaro’s Deportation!

Update #2: Why Alvaro’s arrest matters

Update #1: Interview with Alvaro from detention

Campaign Page


At 8pm on Friday evening (May 13), award-winning undocumented queer artist Alvaro Orozco was arrested on his way to dinner with friends. Now in detention at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre, he faces imminent deportation to Nicaragua.

An accomplished artist and dedicated advocate for queer and newcomer youth, Alvaro’s love for art and commitment to community has captured the appreciation and respect of thousands of people in Toronto. He received the 2010 Street-Level Advocate Award from the Toronto Youth Cabinet and City of Toronto in recognition of his work with queer and newcomer youth.

Alvaro first rose to national prominence in 2007 when his refugee claim was denied on the basis that he did not look “gay enough” for the adjudicator hearing his case via a television screen in Calgary.

This story was picked up by the largest newspapers in Nicaragua, effectively “outing” him to the entire country he left at age 12 due to severe physical abuse by a father who threatened to “kill any child of his that was homosexual.”

Alvaro, now 25, is still waiting for a decision on his Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) application.

Friends and supporters of Alvaro are meeting to move quickly to stay his deportation. It is critical that we keep this strong voice in our community.

Alvaro’s Accomplishments & Exhibits

- Volunteer/Mentor with Supporting Our Youth (SOY)

- Mayworks Festival, Toronto, 2011

- Toronto Youth Cabinet, 2010 Identify & Impact Awards, Street-Level Advocate Award Winner

- Migrant Expressions Photography Exhibition, Montreal, 2009

- Under the Bridge Art Exhibition, Toronto, 2009

- Jumblies Theatre, Prop-Maker and Photographer, Toronto, 2009

- Refugee Rights Day, Toronto City Hall, Toronto, 2008

- ArtWherk Collective 2007, Pride Art Exhibition, Toronto, 2007

Image by Sheila Hewlett



Alvaro Orozco, Under the Bridge Art Exhibit