a blog by ryan hayes

Celebrate People’s History

It’s a huge honour to have a piece of work in the new edition of the Celebrate People’s History poster book. This updated version was just published by the Feminist Press with over 75 new designs added to the original collection of 125.

I remember my excitement when I came across the first edition in 2010. I was (and still am) a huge fan of so many artists who contributed to the poster series. I’ve come across individual CPH posters in so many different contexts – offices, classrooms, people’s homes – which is a testament to their value as popular education tools. And somehow, I managed to get a copy at BMV, a second-hand and overstock bookstore in Toronto, right when it came out.

Before they were collected into a book, the posters were released one-by-one, commissioned by Josh MacPhee from Justseeds, starting with his Malcolm X poster in 1998. What they have in common, aside from the focus on amplifying radical histories, is an 11×17 format and economic use of colour to keep offset printing costs down – and maximize the number of posters that could be produced, put into people’s hands, and wheatpasted onto walls.

I was invited to submit my poster from an earlier project by the Celebrate People’s History project with Aaron Hughes and Iraq Veterans Against the War (now About Face). Screenprinter Jesse Purcell (pictured below) of Repetitive Press created an incredible print portfolio that documents the history of IVAW, which includes the cover pages above that were printed on “combat paper” made with the fibres of military service uniforms. The portfolio is essentially an art exhibition in-a-box. I cherish it and have found it to be a great teaching tool as well.

Since I had to change my original design from a horizontal to a portrait orientation, I took the opportunity to remake it from scratch, while keeping Jon Orlando’s excellent photo from the IVAW action at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, and I’m quite pleased with the result.

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