Behind the Art series #1

Artists Against Apartheid poster (1987):

These posts are part of a series that will talk about various aspects of my art and design work.

I designed this poster for an Artists Against Apartheid benefit in 1987. Apartheid was a system began in 1948 of legal racial segregation enforced by the ruling white minority government in South Africa over the countries black majority.

The printing budget only allowed for two colours (black and green). I wanted to show what apartheid meant in one image by combining two images solidified by one colour. To me it wasn’t enough to just show a defiant demonstrator. I needed to show the origins of what this woman was defying. The viciousness of the police was what maintained this regime. Her country’s suffering was intrinsically linked to that brutality. So I placed the woman’s figure on top of a photo of charging police with riot shields. I then cut away her shirt revealing the image of the police. But because both photos were printing black, they had no visual depth. But by having my second colour (green) print everywhere on the poster except the contours of the woman and her original shirt, I was able to maintain her in the foreground but also have the police in the foreground and the background at the same time. To me, this was a visual metaphor for the overwhelming oppressiveness of the apartheid regime on the individual.

Oh… and in the end, the concert raised enough money to buy an ambulance that would be used specifically to aid those injured while protesting the apartheid regime. In 1991, the legal apparatus of apartheid was abolished and in 1994, South Africa’s first democratic elections were held.

I’ll be on tour in April with my duo Mecca Normal. Tour dates at www.myspace.com/meccanormal

Come out to the show and say HI.

In addition to playing rock shows we will be presenting “How Art & Music Can Change the World — a lecture, art exhibit and performance event in university classrooms, bookstores and community centers. We intend to inspire audiences towards considering political content in their creative self-expression.

Artist Against Apartheid poster, 1987

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One Response to “Behind the Art series #1”

  1. Great poster. Really appreciate learning of the thinking behind its construction. Excellent use of images. Simple and powerful… really excellent example of this style of poster.

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