Protest – the power and impact of word, image and narrative

Todays lecture explored the power of protest and the rippling impact it can have within society. Both historical and contemporary examples were explored.

Historically, examples from the suffragette era were shown. This is one of the most well known examples of successful protests where women marched for the vote. It is thanks to these efforts that I am now able to vote and it can be something taken for granted at times. Generally, the ephemera created was beautiful hand braided banners and in a slightly more subtle approach teacups with the words ‘Votes for Women’ on them were created. The contrast to this was the ephemera created for anti-suffrage; where by they would demonise women in order to frighten people to prevent women from having the vote.


Along with that was the famous movement of the Anti-Vietnam protest in the 1960s. The ephemera created here has a much more immediate feel to it. They are not as beautiful as the suffragette ephemera but they are just as powerful and impactful.

Coming back to 2017 we are still seeing large protests being carried out particularly against Donald Trump. Nowadays we are seeing an array of ephemera pieces being created; some immediate pieces and others that are more considered and designed. This shows that both styles work within a protesting nature.

Three of my favourite examples shown from the presentation were Occupy London, Protest at Westminster and Anthony Burril.

Occupy London design ephemera to stand against globalisation and capitalisation. They particularly stand against banks. This is created from making tweaks to existing things such as typography. Through using hints of typography found in well known newspapers it creates an instant connection without being too explicit. I really like the thought of using something which already exists but altering its context.


I found Protest at Westminster to be an extraordinarily powerful image. It forced people to notice the devastation of the refugee crisis. Through placing life jackets; each with the name of a deceased refugee, across the grass from Westminster, it gives a brief insight into the scale of the problem without being too loud or brash, unlike most protests.


Finally, I really liked Anthony Burril’s piece because although it is a simple typographic poster, the process of its creation gives it a real impact. Through using oil cleared from the Mexican Gulf, it gives the words on the poster more meaning and context. The type alone is rather powerful in my opinion, it is simple and bold and immediately grabs your attention, but the careful material selection gives it that extra impact.


Overall, I found the lecture to be quite interesting and insightful. It does make you think of all the styles of ephemera created for a protest and how they differ. The style of tone changes and the target audience changes with it. From a design approach, it is interesting to compare the considered pieces with the immediate ones. They both do their jobs successfully and achieve the same goals, but through exploring different channels.



Author: marislathamgraphics

I am a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University studying BA Hons Graphic Communication.

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