Tuesday, June 8, 2021

American Calligraphy #24: Handmade protest signs

ABCs of the USA: The stories behind America's most distinctive calligraphy styles. 

Handmade signs combine two distinctive American obsessions: do-it-yourself and expressing your opinion. Together they make art that communicates with a special voice. 

A Shahn poster memorializing controversial
anarchistsSacco and Vanzetti. 
Ben Shahn (1898-1969), who immigrated from Lithuania, was trained in both classical and Hebrew calligraphy. He admired the grassroots letters of American amateurs, using them to give his work unique immediacy. His letter designs appeared as posters, book covers, and type fonts.  

Ben's Folk type, a font that he inspired.
Ben Shahn's ideas gave voice to other political advocates for social justice, and engendered dozens of typefaces, while inspiring a generation of graphic designers such as Mary Corita and Lorraine Schneider.

Protest letters let people carry a
sign that speaks in their own voice. 
Iconic anti-war poster
by Lorraine Schneider 

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