PROTESTORS HAVE BEEN MARCHING throughout the United States and internationally out of frustration, anger, and fear following the latest spate of police killings. Since late May, people have taken to the streets chanting Black Lives Matter and calling for racial justice, often facing violent reprisals from law enforcement.

The collective actions are meant to give protestors a voice and send a message to the general public, police departments, elected officials, and the media, largely via the posters they are waving as they parade through cities and gather in parks and plazas.

 


Hust Wilson (@hustwilson). | For Fine Acts

 

Impressive numbers have turned out carrying home-made and professionally printed signs, declaring “Know Justice, Know Peace,” “You Can’t Kill Us All,” “Protect Black Women,” “I Can’t Believe I Still Have to Protest This Shit,” “It Could Have Been My Son,” and “Racism is the Virus,” among countless other profound and heart-wrenching sayings.

Black artists/designers are standing with protestors and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement by lending their creativity. A dozen contributed poster designs to a new campaign called “12 Black Artists / 24 Protest Posters.” All of the signs are under a Creative Commons license and open to print and share for “free noncommercial use and adaptation – given the appropriate credit.”

The effort was organized Fine Acts, which describes itself as “a global nonprofit creative studio for social impact.” Fine Acts was co-founded in 2015 by Yana Buhrer Tavanier of Sofia, Bulgaria, and UK-based Julie Freeman, two TED Fellows, and Pavel Kounchev. A 2018-19 fellow of the Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University, Kounchev splits his time between New York and Bulgaria.

Across its founders, team, board, and collective, Black representation at Fine Acts is minimal. The studio realized the Black Lives Matter project collaborating with Black graphic designers, illustrators, typographers, and art directors based in Atlanta, Memphis, and Philadelphia in the United States, as well as South Africa, Brazil, Trinidad, and the Dominican Republic, among other locales. Two out of the 12 are women.

 


Edinah (@wildlogic). | For Fine Acts

 

The artists developed posters with a wide variety of designs, messages, and letter styles, all produced in black and white. Selections include “Fight the Power” with 3-D lettering by Kevin Adams of New York City, “Power to the Black People” in bubble-style letters by Leandro Assis from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and a mix of two type styles declaring “Say Their Names” by Adrian Meadows of Spartanburg, S.C. The poster designs include several versions of “Black Lives Matter.”

Fine Acts encourages people to put the posters to use: bring them to protests; send them to friends, family, and allies; install them around their neighborhoods; and display them in windows.

Fine Acts encourages people to put the posters to use: bring them to protests; send them to friends, family, and allies; install them around their neighborhoods; and display them in windows.

Brooklyn-based Edinah Chewe‘s letterpress-style lockup uses a mix of letter sizes and reads: “There Comes a Time When Silence is Betrayal.” A freelance visual designer from the UK, Chewe says her work is rooted in innovation and makes space for wild and free ideas to thrive, hence the name of her website, Wild Logic.

Each of the artists provided a statement for the poster project. Most focused on their work and design philosophies. Chewe opened up about the moment and her creative values.

She said: “What’s happening right now is more than a movement, it’s an unveiling, a leveling out of energy if you will. So, empowered by the idea of togetherness, I created these posters in the hope of encouraging and inspiring others to unequivocally stay true to themselves.”

 


Rick Griffith (@rickgriffith). | For Fine Acts

 

Rick Griffith makes clear on Instagram that he is as passionate about design, type, and language as he is justice and voting. The British-born, West Indian designer and letterpress printer is based in Denver, Colo. He is a founder and partner in the design consultancy MATTER. Griffith’s IG posts confront racism and bigotry and support “reparative justice.” A letterpress poster he shared bluntly states “Vote to Unfuck this Country.”

For the Black Lives Matter poster project Griffith designed a white silhouette of the United States against a black background. Within the borders of the continental U.S., the following is appears in all caps freehand type: “This is 400 years of guilt, shame, and persistence of bad policy towards the American Negro with denial and manipulation of resources at every level.”

The word “manipulation” is bolded and stands out among the others. In a circle below, he documented the production date: June 2020.

Originally from Barbados, Atlanta-based Gia Graham is an illustrator, lettering artist and Skillshare teacher. Over the past two decades, she has worked in corporate graphic design, started a stationery business, and currently focuses on licensing her art for various products. Her poster reads: “Defund the Police, Defend Black Lives.”

 


Gia Graham (@iamgiagraham). | For Fine Acts

 

“We live in an era where police officers can kill innocent civilians, walk away and still get paid. The system is broken and the bloated budgets need to be re-evaluated,” Graham said.

“In this piece I use sharp angles to convey the urgency of the message. The linear patterns are inspired by the geometric prints found in African textiles and subtly represent the human figure standing firm, arms raised in simultaneous surrender and resistance.”

“In this piece I use sharp angles to convey the urgency of the message. The linear patterns are inspired by the geometric prints found in African textiles and subtly represent the human figure standing firm, arms raised in simultaneous surrender and resistance.” — Gia Graham

Eso Tolson has a few titles including lettering artist and creative director/designer. He is a partner at the Memphis-based brand and web strategy firm Cheers Creative. On Instagram he refers to himself as a “vibe creator.”

His poster design says “This Stops Right Now.” In his statement, Tolson reflected on the circumstances that brought about the project.

“Whether it be for the lives of Black transgendered people being murdered, for Black lives being murdered by police, or for Black people being constantly oppressed by systemic racism, there’s a lot of causes worth fighting for right now,” he said.

“I wanted to make a piece that resonated enough contextually for each cause, but general enough to communicate the overall mandate: ‘THIS HAS TO STOP.'” CT

 

DOWNLOAD AND SHARE the Black Lives Matter posters

 

FIND MORE The Black Lives Matter campaign follows a similar “Spring of Hope” initiative Fine Acts introduced in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. That poster project involved many more artists—50 who were commissioned and more than 40 additional artists through open submissions. One of them was Black (Aleea Rae Campbell).

 


Adrian Meadows (@iiaspire). | For Fine Acts

 


Adrian Meadows (@iiaspire). | For Fine Acts

 


Adrian Meadows (@iiaspire). | For Fine Acts

 


Edinah (@wildlogic). | For Fine Acts

 


Kevin Adams (@kevinadamsdesigns). | For Fine Acts

 


Leandro Assis (@lebassis). | For Fine Acts

 


Hust Wilson (@hustwilson). | For Fine Acts

 


Eso Tolson (@coolurbanhippie). | For Fine Acts

 


Eso Tolson (@coolurbanhippie). | For Fine Acts

 

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