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Silas Munro (Author), Colette Gaiter (Introduction), Stephen Coles (Contributor)

Strikethrough: Typographic Messages of Protest



A powerful new look at history-making uses of lettering, type, and design to amplify resistance and inspire change

In chapters exploring the many ways to voice dissent (RESIST!, VOTE!, STRIKE!, TEACH!, and LOVE!), Strikethrough charts a typographic chant of resistance across more than a century of protest graphics—from nineteenth-century antislavery broadsides to the colorful affiches of the Paris 1968 uprising, and from the revolutionary Black Panther newspaper to the public awareness posters of the AIDS crisis.

Author Silas Munro, cocreator of the first BIPOC-centered design history course, presents a vibrant collection of broadsides, signs, banners, posters, ephemera, and archival photographs, highlighting the vital roles of letterforms in messages of social change. Informed by Black musical traditions of call and response, Strikethrough amplifies design dialogues that echo across works by feminist, queer, and antiracist activists, anticolonial resisters, labor organizers, environmental defenders, and others. An introduction by Colette Gaiter, plus an essay on protest type and lettering by Stephen Coles and ten profiles of activist-designers including Corita Kent, Ben Shahn, Carlos Cortez, Favianna Rodriguez, and fierce pussy, dig deep into the storied legacies of graphic opposition.

Published in connection with Letterform Archive’s latest gallery exhibition, cocurated by Munro and Coles, this hardcover catalog features state-of-the-art color reproductions and stochastic printing, a custom typeface by Trés Seals based on historical protest lettering, and a bright five-color design by Munro’s design studio Polymode. Revealing how messages make their way to the masses via marker, screen print, spray paint, collage, and both physical and digital type, Strikethrough calls on us all to make our own demands for change.

Artists and designers include: Atelier Populaire, See Red Women's Workshop, Carlos Cortez, Emory Douglas, Fierce Pussy, Ganzeer, Milton Glaser, Guerrilla Girls, Jenny Holzer, Corita Kent, Tibor Kalman, Amos Paul Kennedy Jr., Herb Lubalin, Phase 2, Favianna Rodriguez, Ward Schumaker, Ben Shahn and Wes Wilson.

About the Author

Silas Munro is a partner of the design studio Polymode. Collaborations include works with the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office; the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; the Getty Museum; MoMA; and MOCA. Munro’s writing appears in W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black AmericaSmithsonian Magazine, the New Yorker, and Black Perspectives. He is a coauthor of the first BIPOC-centered design history course, Black Design in America: African Americans and the African Diaspora in Graphic Design. He is founding faculty and cochair of the MFA in Graphic Design program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

About the Contributors

Colette Gaiter is a professor in the departments of Africana studies and art & design at the University of Delaware. Her visual work, exhibited internationally, ranges from digital prints and artist books to websites and interactive installations. Her writing appears in Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory DouglasWest of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965–1977; and The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression & Reflection.

Stephen Coles is responsible for the online face and voice of Letterform Archive, where he is editorial director and associate curator. He is author of the bestselling book The Anatomy of Type and also publishes the influential websites Typographica and Fonts In Use.

Praise for Strikethrough

“Finally, a book highlighting typography's role in iconic social movements throughout the nation's history. Strikethrough is a storytelling tour de force composed of well-crafted prose married to poignant images that take us on a powerful, historical journey from the printed page into the streets. This book allows us to witness type oft-overlooked in design's history, that of diverse lay and professional designers relying on the transformative power of vernacular type to demand liberation and to galvanize action that leads to equity and justice. In doing so, it contributes heartily to decolonizing typography's canon.”
Audrey G. Bennett, Professor, Stamps School of Art & Design, University of Michigan

Strikethrough is a breakthrough on three levels: Its theme. Its context. Its author…. Munro has injected levels of historical scholarship into Strikethrough’s narrative [while] bringing significant rare materials to this study.... Savor every page, and share this book with others.”
Steven Heller, PRINT

“In 2016, at a massive gathering to protest restrictions on abortion access in Poland, an elderly woman held a sign that read, ‘I can’t believe I still have to protest this fucking shit.’ Her simple poster struck a chord in activists around the world as we witness the rolling back of hard-earned rights and the continued denial of basic human freedoms. As much as we would like to think that the many wonderfully inventive graphics and powerful anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-imperialist messages contained within Strikethrough are just an interesting part of the past, they should instead be dusted off, studied, and reimagined for today’s struggles.”
Andrew Satake Blauvelt, Chief Curator and Director, Cranbrook Art Museum

Strikethrough builds up the bibliography of a field that’s often neglected, and will make the kind of work it covers more discoverable…. An important reference that will leave a mark.”
Faride Mereb, The Brooklyn Rail

One part coffee-table art book, one part design history, and several parts manifesto, Strikethrough affirms the power of design not only as a tool in support of social transformation but as social transformation itself. The book is an inspiration…. It takes the reader on a blistering journey of typographic resistance, showcased in diligently researched examples and case studies from the nineteenth century to the present…. In his curatorial statement, Munro speaks of the collected works as a typographic call and response, inspired by the call and response in musical patterns imported into the US via the transatlantic slave trade, a tradition that fostered both connection and civic participation. The powerfully brilliant achievement of Strikethrough itself may represent such a call for present and future designers, typographers, activists, and students (for whom this book should be required reading).

“An entangled and complex history of protest graphics.”
— 2022 jury for AIGA 50 Books | 50 Covers



Publisher Letterform Archive
Publication date September 2022
ISBN 978-1-7368633-0-5
Size 9.5 x 7.5 inches
Page count 280 total pages
Image count 250
Printing 5 colors throughout
Binding Hardcover

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