The rebellion has begun and, here in the smoking ruins of democracy, you’ve got an opinion to share. Standing in the plaza below the Palace of the Overlords, you need the Mighty Ones to know you’re still here, fighting for freedom.
Well, I’m here to give you a few tips on how to create a great sign to communicate your message, because honestly, there’s nothing sadder than a fierce message that can’t be read because the banner is utter shit. Grab your art supplies, friends. We’re going to make a sign.
Know your message. Get it tight. You want people to be able to read your sign and understand your meaning in under five seconds. Streamline your choice of words — don’t use ten words if three will do. Enjoy the power of simple language.
If you’ve tried to simplify your message but it’s just too complex, that’s okay, you have two choices:
(1) accept that your message might not reach the masses, but it will still reach those who are willing to invest the time to read it, and that’s okay, or
(2) focus your message to one or two points, which viewers will understand even if it’s not as nuanced as you’d like.
This is your sign, so it’s up to you. Personally, I like short and catchy phrases that spark a dialogue, sprinkled with a little bit of humour. There’s power in conversation and in laughter.
Know your colours. Now that you have your message, you need to make sure people can read it from a distance. Which is easier to see: black marker on a piece of brown cardboard, or white letters on a black background? Go for high contrast, big letters, and bold design. You don’t have to resign yourself to black-and-white, though… contrasting colours can really make your words POP. For example, you can try:
Purple background + Yellow letters
Blue background + Orange letters
Green background + Red letters
Be bold. Don’t be shy, supersize is your friend! Make those words BIG. Blocky letters are great to read from a distance, and you want to be heard for miles.
For Pete’s sake, spell correctly. It only hurts your message if it’s peppered with spelling errors. You’re smart and intelligent and well-read, right? Of course you are. That’s why you’re here, fighting injustice at the end of the world.
Use the right tools. Don’t use pencil crayons, watercolour paint, or crayons — they aren’t opaque and they won’t leave enough colour on the paper to be highly visible. Instead, use acrylic paint or waterproof pens, like Sharpies.* These won’t run if the weather turns, and they’ll stay bright and strong. (FYI – Tempera paint is bright and bold and cheap, but it isn’t waterproof, so if you’re hit with a bit of rain or fog, your sign will run.) Make sure your paper is hefty, too — poster board works well, as does box cardboard or a light press board. Make sure you don’t use anything too heavy; you’ll want to be able to carry it for hours without hurting your shoulders.
Hold it high and share it. It’s great that you’ve made a stunning sign to broadcast your message, but take pictures and share them on social media, too. Twitter the shit out of that sign. Tell the world how you feel, because we’re all in this together, and your role in the resistance is integral.
Now get out there! Shout, sing, stay arms-length from the zombies, and make awesome art for a better world.
PS These photos came from 33 Signs from the Womens March, but I want to see your signs, too! Post and share!