It’s a Sign

The protest sign presents a great design challenge: how to condense a message so that its essence is maintained, it is understood at a glance, and is legible from afar.

Rising to such a challenge, the crowd flexed its design muscles for Saturday’s Women’s March for America in Boston. From every walk of life we saw clever, beautiful and passionate signs produced for the occasion. Some were more successful than others; all were a testament to the creative potential in every citizen.

We’ve chosen to share a few here. Please keep in mind that these signs do not represent the views of AIGA Boston, we’re just showing some love for the classic combination of type and imagery in order to communicate.

A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance
Making use of current events and pop culture is a great way to make your message connect with the crowd. This text refers to the history of women’s movements throughout time, as well as Princess Leia’s work for the resistance in Star Wars. Adding some additional oomph to the message, Carrie Fisher (pictured), who recently passed, was a feminist icon.


Teach Men Not to Rape
This sign packs a powerful punch by showing two points of view, using the strikethrough as a device to add another dimension to the message. Clever approaches that make the viewer work a little (but not too much!) can stick with you longer.


This group commanded attention with their coordinated, double-sided expression that was strengthened by the accompanying images.


They teach us to be quiet but we will show them to power of our voice
This sign struck me as particularly sincere. The carefully painted dimensional lettering feels honest, and the message’s clarity is supported by the red background ensuring it stood out in the crowd.


Friends Forever
Even the youngsters wanted to share messages with their own signs. This innocent message and its host stood in contrast with the surrounding signs of heavy and sometimes negative themes, a juxtaposition that brought a level of significance to the moment.


I’m With Her
This is perhaps the message that best communicated the point of the march. No protest sign may ever again have the quiet power of the “I Am A Man” signs (Memphis sanitation worker’s strike, 1968), but here the uppercase type refers back to that simple declaration in a powerful way, and the arrows are quite effective in the crowd.


Take Refuge
A very creative use of medium to share a message. The umbrella offers refuge, reinforced with the flag of Refugee Nation.


Hillary Clinton Logo
A logo endures, and perhaps gains new meaning, beyond its intended lifespan. The arrow points forward still after the campaign, showing that her fight lives on.


Reminiscent of Saul Bass’s bold shapes, these cut-paper letters and image have a jaunty movement that stood out in a sea of signs.


One provocative word is used to grab attention and send a short message: women have united.


You have no idea what you have unleashed
This basic sign adds some emphasis with the tilted Os, and leaves the thought with the viewer by ending in ellipses.


Nasty chusetts
This charming lettering could be reproduced on a t-shirt. The overall effect is friendly, making the the word “Nasty” more approachable. Overall, the graphic exudes pride.



Young. Black. Feminist.
There’s no arguing with this message. Periods stamp each statement with authority, and the red lettering radiates confidence.


Stacked up
Though you can’t read the words until you’re up close, this multicolor stack catches your attention from blocks away.



Nasty Women Get Shit Done
Makeshift and rebellious like all the scratchy text and acid-washed denim before it, who wouldn’t take this jacket and the woman within seriously?



Are you, or do you know, the creator of any of these signs? Send me an email and I’ll add a credit.

Want to connect with other members around the role of design in democracy? CLICK HERE to request to join our new Slack messaging team where you’ll be able to chat with other designers outside of events.



Photos by Sarah Croughwell, Emily Hamre and Chiranit Prateepasen

Published January 24, 2017