Poster event organizers Fiona McGuigan, Erica Sklar, and Annabelle Larner, Photo by: Larry Asher

Creating Protest Art at The School of Visual Concepts

The Women’s March on Washington was organized in the weeks leading up to Donald Trump’s inauguration. It grew into a global phenomenon with marches organized all over the U.S. and across the world with millions of people marching for women’s rights on the day following the inauguration on January 21, 2017.

But how do you prepare for the march of a lifetime? An excellent protest poster is one way to get your message across. The School of Visual Concepts (SVC) Co-Director, Larry Asher, says his colleagues, Fiona McGuigan, Erica Sklar, and Annabelle Larner realized there was a unique opportunity to help people prepare for the marches. Protest art has been the foundation of many social movements, so SVC opened their letterpress and printing studio to help protesters create their own poster works of art.

“We were all a bit shell-shocked after the election, and we wanted to take action. We realized that we had the people and resources to enable something positive and active,” explains Asher. “We wanted to do something to advance the causes of decency, truth, and human rights while exercising our creative talents.” On January 15, 2017, they held the Seattle Women’s March Poster Making event.

Asher says that they pulled the kid-friendly event together quickly and spread the word on social media. While they only expected 100 people, they hosted roughly 350 poster-makers on the day of the event and had to turn people away. The artists created more than 500 protest posters in total and carried them to the marches they attended. “It really lifted up people’s spirits and made us realize that none of us are alone. But we’re not the star of the show, the protest artists are,” stated Asher.

Don’t feel left out if you missed that event! There are numerous opportunities to collaborate with SVC in the coming weeks. One poster design course runs from May to June 2017 for advanced students with existing portfolios of work. It is called Protests, Posters, Printing & Persisting.

“This isn’t just a class. It’s a cause. This workshop is for designers with a conscience and a desire to improve their poster design abilities, while being mentored by master poster artists, Jeff Kleinsmith and Sasha Barr, over a five-week period,” explains Asher.

Jeff Kleinsmith has been Sub Pop Records’ art director for more than 20 years. He has designed hundreds of posters and album covers for bands you’ve definitely heard of, and ones you probably haven’t. His work has appeared in numerous design books, magazines, and gallery shows, and is also in the permanent collection at MoPOP and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Sasha Barr has been an art director for Sub Pop Records since 2007. In addition to his work in the music industry, he also does design work for Amigos Skateboards, and runs his own design company, The New Year. His clients of note include Vans, Converse, Giro, Northwest Folklife Festival, Bumbershoot, and the Washington Lottery.

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