Founded in 1952, three years after the Communist Revolution, Foreign Languages Press is one of the external propaganda arms of the Chinese Communist Party. They supposedly have published over 30,000 titles in a total of 43 languages (according to Wikipedia). Their books, booklets, and pamphlets must have been produced in huge numbers, as it is no uncommon to find them kicking around used bookshops, flea markets, and thrift stores. I've pulled together a small collection of a dozen titles, and I don't think I've paid more than $4 or $5 for any of them, most them were in $1 bins or a quarter at a yard sale.
This is some of the most common Communist literature kicking around the U.S., and one of the things that's really interesting, is that none of seems to have been designed with a clear U.S. audience in mind. The aesthetic and sentiment of all the covers appears deeply part and parcel of the logic of the Chinese government, in a way that seems so much more foreign than most Soviet or Cuban propaganda. Most of the books feature either happy workers/soldiers or a bizarre combination of the pastoral and industrial functioning together, side-by-side. The Gao Yunlan book to the right is one of the few exceptions, where the cover is more abstract, the narrative of a prison escape illustrated by broken bars and a high brick wall.
Don Martin ft Immortal Technique (US), Eltipo Este (Cuba), Tumi (South Africa), Tonto Noiza (France). Prod Tommy Tee. Video by Ulfdawg.
Visit bdsmovement.net for more information on boycott campaign.
Vocal sample from Arundhati Roys speach "Come September".
On our way up to Cape Cod, Laurel and I stopped in for lunch with Meredith Stern and Peter Glantz. Here's some flicks of Meredith's studio and a print series she's working on.
Over the past year I stumbled upon these two handsome books from the Philippines. Although they were published by different companies almost fifteen years apart, they both share a really strong hand-rendered design. F. Sionil Jose's The God Stealer and others stories (Quezon City, Philippines: R. P. Garcia Publishing Co., 1968) is a real gem. The expressionist line-drawing on the cover strikes a great balance between "naive" imagery and a strong Modernist/Cubist sense. The yellow background is subtle, but adds necessary depth. Although from 1968, the cover evokes contemporary street art imagery from artists like Doze Green, or even fellow-Justseeds artist Favianna Rodriguez.
I just got back from a week in the Marble Mountains wilderness of Northern California with the wildlands education and residency organization Signal Fire. Ten artists and activists, from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, trekked through ancient forests, apocalyptic burns, and across high alpine ridges to an isolated high-mountain lake. Along the way we shared thoughts and discussion about the work that we do, how we do it, and why wild lands and wild nature are important to it. It was an amazing experience, which you can have a bit of a vicarious experience of through photo essays here and here. I strongly encourage any and all artists and activists to apply to their variety of amazing outdoor programs!
Last autumn, I finished up a design for a new poster in the Celebrate People's History series, and it's just now hot off the presses (you can get it here)! The subject of the poster is the Luddites - not those contemporary freaks without Instagram accounts, but rather the original insurrections in the Midlands of England, roughly 1811-1813, during the violent creep of mechanization of the trades into the cultural fabric of English society. I thought it would be worthwhile to detail my design process here…
Here are all six of the initial set of People's Climate March posters, ready to download all in one place:
A high-res 11x17 version of Crystal Clarity's poster: DOWNLOAD FILE
A high-res 11x17 version of Nicolas Lampert's poster: DOWNLOAD FILE
A high-res 11x17 version of Josh MacPhee's poster: DOWNLOAD FILE
A high-res 11x17 version of Colin Matthes's poster: DOWNLOAD FILE
A high-res 11x17 version of Favianna Rodriguez's poster: DOWNLOAD FILE
A high-res 11x17 version of Chris Stain's poster: DOWNLOAD FILE
And here's the final poster (in this initial set) designed for the People's Climate March, coming up on September 21st. Above is Chris Stain's design. And here is what he has to say about it:
My piece for the project addresses the need for people from all socio economic backgrounds to take a serious look at the current state of our earth. To question how all of our actions from, individual to industry, has an effect on our planet, now and in the future.
Here is a high-res 11x17 version of the poster: please click DOWNLOAD FILE, then print and spread it around!!
I found this great book on a dollar rack here in New York City. It's a 1961 edition (Phoenix Books, a division of the University of Chicago Press) of a Nels Anderson's sociological study of The Hobo, originally published in 1923. The cover, designed by Sarah Delozier, is a nice montage of photography, geometrics, and hand-drawn lines. A hobo "tough" strolls into the frame in front of a freight car. He looks casual, but once you open the book, and absorb the back cover, you can see he's on the look out for a train yard security guard, or "bull." The black and white figures contrast strongly against the colors of the train.
This week I'm sharing high-res downloadable versions of posters designed for the People's Climate March, coming up on September 21st. Nicolas Lampert's design (original collage by Nicolas, additional design by Josiah Werning) is to the right. And here is what he has to say about it:
My image visualizes the name of the march projected on the side of the United Nations building in NYC. It is an ode to the Illuminator project, the 99% projection/bat signal during Occupy, and the Overpass Light Brigades. The pipelines represent business-as-usual and the influence that the fossil fuel industry asserts on political leaders and climate summits. The statement "Make Fossil Fuels History" represents the call for renewable energy sources and recognizes the historical potential of the People's Climate Mobilization.
Here is a high-res 11x17 version of the poster: please click DOWNLOAD FILE, then print and spread it around!!
W.D. Bickerknocker, author of a current zine in the Justseeds Store, was just interviewed in Maximum RocknRoll. Below is the beginning of the interview, click the link at the end for the whole piece.
Create to Destroy! NYC’s C-Squat: Homeo-Empathy 9th & C
Bill Cashman is an all around great guy (like give you his last dollar and make you smile kind of guy) who also painstakingly creates very dense and elaborate zines filled with collage and intensity. This time, the project was obsessively focused on the history of the squat gone homestead co-op where he lives, C-Squat in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The history of the Lower East Side is rife with punk and punk rock attitude from the squatters to the Tompkins Square Park riots to the Diggers to anarchists and just plain anarchy. There is a lot of history but within the punk scene, there are a lot of conflicting memories. So, Bill decided to side step controversy and just stick with the slightly embellished historical facts of the building itself. This zine focuses a lot about the history of the LES, including squatting of course, but the Social Ecology piece entitled The Struggle for Space is an amazing resource for that specific movement: as is former MRR contributor Fly, who is currently working on her history book Unreal Estate. Additionally, the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation recently ran the piece about the zine: Examining a Building’s Past, Punk Rock Style. Here is Bill Cashman (or W.D. Bickerknocker) of Homeo-Empathy 9th & C zine…
What is C-Squat?
It’s a punk house. Formerly a long time squat, currently a homestead, and future: unknown. As one of the graffiti scribblings on one of our walls accurately decrees: “This house is an emotional megaphone”.
This week I'm sharing high-res downloadable versions of posters designed for the People's Climate March, coming up on September 21st. Colin Matthes's design is to the right. And here is what he has to say about it:
A life jacket provides personal safety during chaotic weather and rising sea levels. Beyond a tool for surviving potential disaster, life jackets represent a measured assessment of potential hazards and a choice to protect yourself. Life jacket can symbolize an organized and effective climate change movement.
Here is a high-res 11x17 version of the poster: please click DOWNLOAD FILE, then print and spread it around!!
This week I'm sharing high-res downloadable versions of posters designed for the People's Climate March, coming up on September 21st. Crystal Clarity's design is to the right. And here is what she has to say about it:
These Illustrations came from hurricane sandy. They focus on the horrible disparity that was amplified after the storm. Highlighted, the organized rescue efforts of community based organizers. ( the people's lifeboats). During sandy it became clear to a lot of us that our communities were not really a priority and that those with the means to afford alternative housing or had money and could afford to relocate were able to escape horrific tragedy. Those without this access were left behind in unlivable situations. It shows the struggle of those left without resources who then became resourceful.
Our comrade Andalusia was in Brasil, for many weeks, reporting on the demonstrations around the World Cup. Here are some links to a few videos & radio clips she produced about housing and labor issues related to the World Cup as well as a review of Dave Zirin's great new book Brazil's Dance with the Devil.
Soccers Hidden Cost
Last week I shared a high-res downloadable version of the poster I designed for the People's Climate March, coming up on September 21st, you can see it HERE. This week I'm going to continue to post other artists' designs. First is Favianna Rodriguez's, to the right. And here is what she has to say about it:
I developed this piece to represent an empowered woman of color in a conversation where we are largely invisible. I believe that most visual imagery about climate change does a poor job of speaking to communities of color, communities who are the most affected by environmental destruction and ecological disruption. This piece shows a fierce female standing up for our mother, Pachamama, and defending her family and her home.
This week I present you this "Fair, Candid, and Impartial Treatment of the Subject [of the conflict between Capital and Labor] from a Non-partisan and Christian Standpoint"!! E.T. Russell's 1905 The Conflict between Capital and Labor may be kooky, but sure has a great cover. The visual field is split into four boxes, the top one containing the title, the side panels representing industry and urban life, the central panel containing the author's name and concurrent torch of truth. Published just as the first Russian Revolution was unfolding, Russell tries to articulate why both big business and unions need to be checked, and how we all just need to get along.
This book is in amazing shape considering it's over 100 years old, and the insides are just as ornate and attractive as the cover. Many small accents and visual highlights offset the text, as well as a series of full-page illustrations. The best I scanned for you (click the "Read the rest of entry" link below—an overwrought drawing of a riot scene in Chicago.
SNCC poster, Is He Protecting You?, ca. 1963, Photograph by Danny Lyon (copyright Dany Lyon / Magnum Photos: image from Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives and Radicalism Photograph Collection. Tamiment Library, New York University
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer - or the Mississippi Summer Project. Here is an excerpt from A People's Art History of the United States that discusses the history and the role of photographers who documented the movement- specifically Danny Lyon and SNCC Photo. The excerpt starts at the mid-point of the chapter.
When you made a move on Mississippi, one of the things you had to do was come to grips with your own mortality…This is not going to be big demonstrations with lots of television cameras with people around watching…when we went on those highways in the middle of the night…you had to think that you would never live to see your home again. —Charles McDew, SNCC
In the summer of 1960, SNCC organizer Bob Moses toured Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana to seek out and cultivate local leaders. In Cleveland, Mississippi, he met Amzie Moore, head of the Cleveland NAACP. Moore persuaded him that the greatest asset that SNCC could provide them was to help organize a voter registration campaign. Moses agreed, and by August 1961, SNCC opened its first voter registration school in McComb, right in the heart of Klan country. By fall 1962, Moses was in charge of six offices and twenty field secretaries. He described his philosophy as such:
I'm excited to have designed a poster for the upcoming People's Climate March and Gathering on September 20/21st this Fall. For the march to be successful, I think we need to reach beyond the people that would already be coming to a climate change event, so I wanted to design a poster that (a) did not immediately look like a classic U.S. political poster, and (b) was funny or strange in some way, and likely to catch people's attention. I couldn't stand the idea of imaging a "protest crowd," so I decided on feet instead—they're quirky and weird, they are what we use to march, and the toes make up a collectivity themselves—their own little crowd.
Today would have been Patrice Emery Lumumba's 89th birthday. Lumumba, first prime minister of the Republic of Congo, was an emblem of passionate resistance to Belgian colonial rule, and at the ceremony marking the handover of power he gave a speech that puckered the sphincters of the assembled dignitaries and oligarchs, vowing that Congo's independence would be complete and that a free Congo would strive to rectify the desperate and entrenched inequality that the Belgians had created. Someone in the crowd muttered "he's going to have to go", and within six months he was dead, assassinated with the collusion of the Belgians and the CIA, both of whom had deemed his government an unacceptable threat to foreign-owned mining and commercial interests in the southeast of the country. Lumumba's assassination opened the door for the assumption of power by the reptilian Mobutu Sese Seko, an agent of the US and Belgium who slowly disarticulated Congolese society over the following thirty years. We can mark Lumumba's death today by listening to this podcast from Foreign Affairs, which summarizes some of the information found in a recently declassified trove of documents related to the CIA's activity in the Congo.
Here are some images of Justseeds publications in the Chicago exhibition Publisher! Publisher! organized by Amze Emmons of the Printeresting crew. More info can be found HERE.
I've got a lot of longer-format book cover series in the works for the blog, but they are taking much longer than the one-week chunks I have been trying to post these in for the past couple years. While that's going on in the background, I'm going to post some shorter entries, just looking at a book or two at a time.
This week I dug out a copy of Joseph Seldin's The Golden Fleece: Advertising in American Life (New York: Marzani & Munsell, 1963). It's a lefty critique of advertising, with a funny, spot-on cover design by Christian Ohser. The simplicity and color scheme successfully uses the then-contemporary advertising aesthetic, and turns it on its head.
The blatantly offensive Washington Redskins name is going to be history sooner than later. The question will be what will replace it? Will it be safe and sanitized? The Warriors? Hogs? Pigskins? Or is there an opportunity for something much more interesting? A name and a uniform design that could be more challenging and act as a teaching tool, something where social justice could be at the forefront of the concept. So I gave myself a design challenge. I came up with eight different team names and designed a helmet for each one over a two-week span. I also wrote up the pros and cons for each one.
Emma Goldman was born, June 27, 1869, Kovno, Russian Empire. She was an Anarchist known around the world for her writing, political organizing and speeches. Here are just a couple of the prints that she has inspired in Justseeds.
"Walls of Freedom: Street Art of the Egyptian Revolution" book release party is a collaboration between artist and writer Alan Ket and Revolution Books. Ganzeer, one of the artists featured in Walls of Freedom will be at the bookstore to sign books.
Friday, June 27, 7pm Revolution Books 146 W 26th St. NY, NY
Walls of Freedom tells the story of the art that appeared on Egypt's walls over the past 3 years starting January 25, 2011. The Arab Spring saw an unparalleled explosion of graffiti and street art but few in the West know anything about it. Striking images transformed Egypt's walls into a visual testimony of bravery and resistance to the ruling authorities -- including Mubarek, the army, Morsi and the Islamic fundamentalists -- tracing the journey from the early days of hope and inspiration to the decline into today's nightmare. Spanning Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor, the book is a document of the volatile and fast-shifting political situation there.
On this day in 2010 there was a march in Detroit that inspired a print I recently released called Solstice. The march was part of a decades-long struggle to take on the Detroit incinerator, a structure that has cost so much to the living beings in southeast Michigan, in health, safety, and money. It was organized by the Zero Waste Detroit coalition and allied EJ organizers from around the country including Ananda Tan, Ahmina Maxey, and David Solnit and, although it didn't take down the incinerator, was an invigorating event of solidarity, beauty, and community power. You can learn more about the ill effects of the incinerator from Zero Waste Detroit. If you live in Michigan, consider taking action right now on House Bill 5205, which would potentially increase the amount of incinerators in Michigan!
This past weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the murder of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman working for the Freedom Summer campaign in Mississippi in 1964.
I am inspired by the dedication of all those involved in the organizing, just to get black people registered to vote, in the face of intense racism and violence. These activities are what I hope we can celebrate more, as a society. Music is one of my favorite forms of cultural expression and here are two of my favorite songs resulting from these events.
Nina Simone- Mississippi Goddamn on Soundcloud
Justseeds will have a table all weekend at one of my favorite events ever, the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair.
Come say hi.
THE NOMAD SHOULD APOLOGIZE FOR ITS “FUVELA” – ESPECIALLY TO MILWAUKEE
by Cris Siqueira and Isabella Gargiulo
A bar in Milwaukee created a favela-themed patio for the World Cup and clueless privilege took the chance to show its ugly face in niceland Wisconsin
Last week a bar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin called Nomad World Pub revealed its patio decorated as a “favela” for the 2014 World Cup currently being held in Brazil. “Favela” is a term for low-income settlements in Brazilian cities. It is a name that is falling out of fashion, and most people in the motherland prefer to use the word “community”.
The Nomad’s “fuvela”, as it was misspelled at first, is particularly out of touch because the World Cup is being protested by many in Brazil for “the misery these mega-events have the capacity to cause” (1), as writer Dave Zirin so eloquently put it, and included in such misery is the displacement of entire communities – or “favelas” – for aesthetic reasons or to make way for World Cup-related construction.
Back in November 2013 I did a post on the cover designs of the American University in Cairo's Modern Arabic Writing series circa 1990s (you can see it HERE). I thought I had dug up most of the covers from the series, but since then I've found another have dozen, so I thought I'd post this follow-up. Like the initial eleven I shared, these all have a common overall design by Naim Atef, although the contents of the frame he created are filled by a much more diverse set of visual ingredients. But we can start with Yusuf Idris' The Cheapest Nights, a companion volume to Rings of Burnished Brass. It also features an intricately detailed illustration by Atef, yet this drawing is much more loose and unfinished feeling. This works given the subject matter, with the loose line paralleling the sense of impromptu building, scaling it's way up a hillside in the background of the image. Like most of the covers I showed in November, and that are featured below, what is so striking to me about this is how unlike contemporary book design it feels. The illustration has the sense that it exists in it's own right, and it's need to sell the book to a reader is secondary to it's own composition.
The second annual Never Alone online art auction launched on June 11, the International Day of Solidarity with Marie Mason, Eric McDavid and all Eco-prisoners. Marie and Eric are two environmental and social justice activists who are both serving near 20 year sentences for their involvement in environmental struggle in the United States. All artworks will be exhibited and available for online purchase until June 30. Funds raised will be used to support Marie, Eric and other eco-prisoners’ needs.
There are 24 artists involved this year, including a number of prisoners who have contributed artworks from behind prison walls. All of the artworks focus on themes of wilderness, liberation, state captivity and our relationship with the natural world and other animals.
Check it out so many more at neveralone.org
This week on "It's the end of the World as We know it and I feel fine" we bring you a round up of news from the muthafrackin resistance. Starting with the shooting of three cops from the Canadian Mounted po-po and a look at its colonial history. Followed up by the FIFA world cup riots, the successful defense of Can Vies, an anarchist social space in Barcelona. And wrapping it up with the resignation of Subcomandante Marcos from the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
Our colleagues and collaborators in Taring Padi, the legendary Indonesian printmaking cooperative, have recently completed a series of actions and performances marking the 8th anniversary of the Lapindo mud disaster in north Java. Eight years ago, incautious drilling for gas resulted in a slow eruption of hot volcanic mud which has devastated the region. Click through for a ton of awesome photos and TP member Ucup's description of the campaign.
This week's covers are from Dover Math books I've found over the past 6 months at Book Thug Nation bookstore. You can see the last two posts about Dover books HERE. Many have strong geometrical patterns on the covers, extremely eye catching, but I don't have much else to say about them, so I'll stay out of the way this week, and let the cover's speak for themselves...
photo by Joe Brusky
Yesterday Voces de la Frontera organized a demo in front of the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in Milwaukee to protest the recent rash of arrests in Milwaukee - at least a dozen undocumented people taken from their homes and workplaces by MPD and ICE. The demo itself was heart wrenching: listening to teenagers speak of the pain of having a father arrested and the uncertainty that this brings. For it is a basic human rights violation to tear apart families and the Obama Administration is falling on the wrong side of history with their draconian responses to immigration issues.