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Occupy Design is a grassroots project connecting designers with on-the-ground demonstrators in the Occupy Together movement. The project’s goal is to create freely available visual tools around a common graphic language to unite the 99%. The project places an emphasis on producing infographics and icons to improve the communication of the movement’s messages and the data surrounding them across the world.
The site includes a showcase of existing designs, a how-to guide for demonstrators, a graphic toolkit for designers, and a platform for the community to suggest ideas for designs. The project was created in less than 24 hours October 14-15 weekend by a team of designers, programmers, artists, and demonstrators in San Francisco as part of three concurrent creative hackathons across the country to support Occupy Together.
As part of their planning process, team members spoke with demonstrators from Occupy San Francisco, who gave pointed insight into their on-the-ground needs, and reiterated the value of well-designed, universal signage. The project focuses on three main areas – infographic protest signs to bring data visualization to the street; logistical signs to streamline occupations; and a set of custom-designed, open-source visual icons around social justice themes. The focus on infographics stemmed from the desire to bring graphic representation of statistical evidence to the forefront of the movement on the ground – rather than being limited to independent computer screens.
We are also inspired by The Noun Project, which collects, organizes and adds to the highly recognizable symbols that form the world’s visual language, so we may share them in a fun and meaningful way. We custom-design many of our icons, and also pull in relevant imagery from many sources, including The Noun Project.
OccupyDesign is an independent, unaffiliated, and nonpartisan grassroots initiative.
What does Building a Visual Language for the 99% mean? Are you trying to provide an aesthetic for the entire movement?
The great thing about the Occupy Movement is its diversity – of people, ideas, and aesthetics. We are accepting designs from anyone interested in submitting them, with any aesthetic. For our first few designs, we settled on a black and white, icon-based template after speaking with several occupations due to its universality, accessibility, language-independence, and color-independence. This makes the signs easier and cheaper to print and understand anywhere in the world. The “Occupy” fist logo we designed and place in our infographics and graphic template can be used or replaced by anyone in any of our designs – we just put it there to show solidarity with the movement and unite the signage.
We are in no way trying to fully “design the movement” – we just heard several requests for visual aids from around the world and simply wanted to provide a repository to connect existing designs and designers with those expressing these needs – while providing some designs of our own along the way.
See this post for a discussion on attempting to “brand a movement” (not our goal).
This is one of the first social movements in history able to produce high-quality imagery using digital graphic design tools, and distribute them instantaneously anywhere in the world using file-sharing and social media. We aim to provide a universal visual toolset for the Occupy movement which crosses language barriers and brings a strong visual identity to the movement. It’s also one of the first social movements with broad access to open data – which, if communicated correctly, makes it much more difficult for those who should be held accountable to hide from facts.
Because the movement is so diverse, the mainstream media has characterized it at various points as “directionless” and “lacking a message”. We believe that regardless of background or politics, 99% of the nation can truly agree upon the injustice demonstrated by a clear communication of facts and statistics in a well-designed way – and that bringing these facts to the street via physical infographic signs will help bolster the communication of occupations’ messaging.
How did this project start?
We brought together a team of designers, developers, artists, and organizers over a single weekend in October at the OccupyHack hackathon, built the site and designed our first four infographics and first dozen icons and logistical signs in under 48 hours. We hope this seed content is the launching point for something much greater, an opportunity to connect talented designers with dedicated and passionate occupations all over the world.
What font do you use?
Our infographics and general images use Oswald, an open font designed by Vernon Adams that is available for free download and is also part of our Occupy Design Toolkit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.