First of all, you’re going to need a message. Since you’re already hip to the Traditionalist message, then you should have a good idea of what we’re up against. Obviously, the big one is Communism, but you can pick whatever you want.
Let’s get started…
When phrasing your signs, stick with short phrases or single words. Long sentences or complex and wordy clauses are garbage because nobody is going to “get it.” Your message needs to be clear and non-ambiguous. The first reason for this is because not all people will read the article or news exposure which carries a photo of the sign, and the second reason is because of how social media sharing habits work. Once an image is on the web, it’s practically “free for use” by anyone, and you have to assume that a photo will be taken out of context, and a non-ambiguous message helps prevent it from becoming an obscure photograph of a random demonstration.
Here is a photo from a demonstration I did in April, 2012. Notice how easily my sign’s message shows up in the photograph. This is the kind of quality that you will need in your signs. Not only does it make your message easy to read, but it also makes the reporter’s and photographer’s job easier. These are the kinds of signs which photographers need for a good story, and it allows news media to keep a comfortable distance from hostile counter-demonstrators.
This is the same reason that you will look like an idiot if you show up to a protest with a your black-magic-marker-message written on a sign made out of day-glow neon or pastel colored card stock. Every time you make a sign like that, somebody goes blind from cancer of the eyes. If your sign looks like a Lisa Frank-abortion, nobody is going to take you seriously. Stick with the basics. Black-on-white provides sharp contrast, and when it is sufficiently large enough will come out very well in photographs for news media or the web.
Look at the photo of this counter-demonstrator. This is a perfect example of someone doing everything wrong. The only legible message on the sign, and only just barely, is “equality.” The rest of his sign looks like it was written by an angry monkey with a clump of moldy shit.
Is he for equality, or is he against it? The rest of the world will never know because he wrote his message on flimsy card stock using Crayola jumbo magic markers. The activists who make these kinds of signs is like the people who try to contribute to a shouting match by screaming, “LOUD NOISES!!!”
The counter demonstrator’s sign has a photo of something in the upper right corner, but nobody can see that. It’s too small to be clearly visible in a photograph, and the photographer is standing less than 10 feet away. The photographer is standing less than ten feet away.Let that roll around in your head for a moment… Got it? If you use a sign that is hard to read, you will fail at being an activist with an edgy message– and instead you will be one guy in a crowd with a shitty sign.
If I catch any of my readers using a sign like that, I will be the first to throw you under the bus for making a shitty sign. You’ve been warned.
But, let’s move on.
This is important, and I want to emphasize this next part. Photographers cannot always come close to you to take a picture, and because of that your sign should be easy to read from at least 40 feet away. Anything smaller than 100 point font is hard to read at a distance, and the people we’re trying to reach aren’t going to walk right up to us at a hostile demonstration to talk. Other times, the people we’re trying to reach won’t be allowed to approach the demonstration site because of police barriers and mandated stand-off distances. The job of a street activist while doing a demonstration is to make it easy for people to understand what we’re demonstrating against, but nobody will ever know if they can’t read your sign from more than five feet away.
So here’s how you can make your own sign just like the one shown here.
Start with an edgy piece of background art, and then isolate only the part you need. Images of public lynchings are very powerful and are almost universally understood, so this is a good starting point. There is a lot of flexibility and freedom to choose what you need, so use what you think is best for your purposes.
If you have access to Adobe Photoshop or similar, then this next step will be very easy. Erase everything except the part you need. In this example, all we need is the lynched man. I have faith that you can figure out how to do this on your own, and this is one more question that you shouldn’t ask me– Don’t ask me to teach you how to Photoshop. If I can figure out how to do it, I know you can.
The next step is converting your image file to an Adobe Acrobat file.
I use Open Office for everything, but you can use whatever you like. After importing my image file to Open Office, I set the document margins as tight as possible around the image. I authored the original image at 36″ high, and 12″ wide so that I don’t get any pixelation or distortion after scaling up the photo. After you have the margins of the paper set to the original sizeof the photo, convert it to a PDF.
I might be doing this the long way, but I’d be the last to know. What I do know is that this works for me, and I get the same results with it every time. No matter what you decide to use, you’ll need to convert your image to a PDF file for the next step.
Now we’re getting to the fun part of printing your poster.
When you’re prepared to print your poster, make sure that you select the “poster” option (1). You will have the option of increasing or decreasing the scale of the poster (2), but here’s the important part: Look for the size of the poster in inches (3). Adjust the scale of the image to match the size of your signboard.
Here’s a pro-tip for you, and this one is free… Do you notice the extra white space above the end of the rope and beneath the lynched man’s feet? You will need to take this into account when preparing your document for printing. If your sign is 44 inches high, and you print this document thinking that the measurements are correct, it’s not going to look right when you glue it down to the board. After cutting away the excess white space at the top and bottom, your image of the lynched man will be significantly shorter than your sign board.
You’ll need a way to fix the tiles to your signboard, and I strongly recommend using any kind of aerosol spray-on adhesive glue. Don’t get it on your clothes, and for the love of all that is holy don’t get any on the carpet because it will never come out. Don’t ask me how I know that… Do not use tape. Just don’t do it. If I catch you trying to assemble a large sign with Scotch Tape– I will throw you under the bus. It is not durable, it looks like crap, and I will laugh at you for doing it that way.
In this sign, I’m lynching Communism. Follow all of the aforementioned steps to make a second layer of tiles for the word or phrase. I like to do this in separate steps because it allows me to position the phrase differently for each poster. After gluing this second layer over the first, you can spray paint the edges to increase the visible contrast and boldness. This final step of blocking off the text from the image will make your sign truly first class.
If you followed these directions correctly, it means that you’ve got a kick-ass sign which is capable of lynching Communism worse than a farmer beating a rented mule.
Now that you know how to make an awesome sign, get out there and be a strong Church Militant, and don’t forget to post some pictures on our Facebook wall…