Photo: By rlj on Flickr
About a week into Occupy Wall Street, Jason Shelowitz headed down to Zuccotti Park.Intrigued, he walked around and chatted up occupiers. He decided that he wanted to support the cause, but he couldn’t leave his day job as a freelance art director.
So he used his branding and design expertise to help protesters focus their message, the Village Voice reported yesterday.
Worried the mainstream media would see all the handmade signs and brush Occupy Wall Street off as a “low-brow, dirty-hippie party,” he set out to create easily readable, precise messaging for the protesters to use.
Handwritten cardboard signs are hard to see in marches and from afar, Shelowitz told us in an interview, which is especially problematic for protesters when most people are tuning in to watch them demonstrate on television or through news photos.
So he devised an alternative: 20-inch-by-30-inch signs, mounted to foam, with concise messages in bold, clear black type on a clean white background. And the signs are two-sided, allowing messages to be seen from all directions during marches. They’re also professionally printed.
The personal touches on the original signs — which still vastly outnumber the 15 he’s designed, printed, mounted, and brought to the occupiers — are nice, Shelowitz says, “but clarity is important.”
There are 13 different messages on the signs, including “Less Employment = More Occupations” and “The 99% Are 100% Fed Up,” playing on the labels the movement has assigned itself. Shelowitz — better known as Jay Shells, or @jayshells — wrote half of them, and the others came from a copywriter (known as @blulaces) who responded to Shelowitz’s initial call for slogan suggestions on the social networking site.
Within 24 hours of sending the tweet, the original batch of signs were ready to go, and Shelowitz brought them downtown to hand out to protesters. They’re still floating around there, and people email him photos of the signs in marches and on display.
“Everybody’s down there and everybody needs a voice,” Shelowitz says, adding that he plans to make more signs and pass them out to protesters, or protesters can contact him via Twitter to get the .pdf versions to make their own. “It’s left to these signs to tell the message.”
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