Archive for January, 2010

Written in the subways

Bob Noorda died this past week, the graphic designer for the NYC MTA signage system.  Noorda standardized subway signage using Helvetica, a sans serif type font (see my previous post about Helvetica, the film).

All of which got me to thinking about subway writing (thanks Funkyparty).

Peanut butter and jelly.  Can’t have one without the other….

When Fear Goes Graphic

Last week’s NY Times featured an article, When Fear Goes Graphic, about political posters that helped spur voters in Switzerland to pass a 2009 referendum to ban the building of minarets.  Among several examples, one poster created by the Swiss graphic designer Alexander Segert, depicted “three fluffy white sheep kicking a black sheep off the Swiss flag.  ‘For More Security’ was the accompanying slogan.”

(I have a similar image found recently on a sticker in Berlin, which I’ll post later.)

From the article:

“A(nother) poster was widely cited as having galvanized votes for the Swiss measure but was also blamed for exacerbating hostility toward immigrants and instigating a media and legal circus. ‘We make posters, the other side goes to the judge,’ is how Alexander Segert put it when we met here the other day. ‘I love it when they do that’.”

“[Segert] designed the poster in question. As manager of Goal, the public relations firm for the Swiss People’s Party, [he] has overseen various campaign posters. This one, for the referendum, used minarets rising from the Swiss flag like missiles (‘mushrooms,’ Mr. Segert demurred, implausibly). Beside the missiles a woman glowers from inside a niqab. ‘Stop’ is written below in big, black letters.”

“All these right-wing populist parties have learned to get TV and newspapers to show these posters over and over with the excuse of asking, ‘Should we allow such images?’ said Mr. Bühlmann [a political scientist in Switzerland]. ‘The aim in making the posters is to be as racist as possible, so then when critics complain, the populists can say elites don’t want ordinary people to know the truth. And the media fall for it every time’.”

It’s hard to know if such xenophobic images would fly in the US, though racist posters can be found online on a number of anti-Tea Party Web sites–all clearly aimed at President Obama (Obama as witch doctor, the Joker, etc.).  In the spirit of the NY Times article, I won’t post these on Stickerkitty, because doing so, one could argue, may in fact only perpetuate the dissemination of racist imagery.  (This reminds me of 1980s-1990s feminist protests against the depiction of women in major art museums around the world.)  The Guerrilla Girls put it nicely in this poster, however.

On a related note–Glenn Beck is one of the organizers of an upcoming rally this summer, Restoring Honor, to be held at the footsteps on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., the site of Obama’s Presidential inauguration.  I should probably attend the rally to see what sorts of graphics can be “liberated.”

The parallels between the use of images in right-wing political propaganda can’t go unnoticed.  Xenophobic posters in Switzerland communicate fear through the depiction of the militant Other.  Racist posters here in the US communicate fear of the Other through ridicule.

Henny Penny cries, “No minarets in Switzerland.  The sky is falling.”  Henny Penny cries, “No African Americans as an American President.  The sky is falling.”


For the record, I don’t think anyone can look at political posters or stickers complacently (I didn’t word that previous post very well yesterday).  My fear, however, is that people like moi, who like to think of themselves as fairly engaged human beings, might be getting a little LAZY.  The ONLY positive thing I can think of with regard to the TPers and the Trojan Horse is that there will be a great new crop of stickers this spring.  Even that, though, is a mighty stretch.  😦

I should try to attend one of these TP rallies and pick up some of their posters and fliers.  I did the same sort of thing when GWB first ran for office.  Stay tuned for pix.

Politics as unusual

Seriously, I’ve been debating for weeks whether or not to include any of my own personal comments on Stickerkitty regarding current US politics, etc., but the recent announcement that Sarah Palin will be joining FOX News makes me sick.  Enough is enough, for crying out loud. reports that Palin “has signed a multi-year deal to offer her political commentary and analysis across all Fox News platforms, including Fox Business Channel, and Fox News Radio.”  And, if that weren’t bad enough, check out this new accoutrement:

Kitteh doesn’t want to be catty, but the packaging here blows me away.  [POOF!  I am now blown away!!!!]

On top of all this, Tom Ashbrook covered Tea Party Politics this morning on NPR’s On Point.  When he asked his two guests about TPP posters seen recently at various gatherings (posters that denounce Obama as a neo-Nazi Jew hater, for example), the one guest from “D-town” replied that most of the Tea Partyers are moderate Democrats and that TPers recently voted two “blacks” into office, yadda yadda yadda.

The question is,” Can I/we continue to look complacently at these political stickers and ephemera w/o all of this other crazy information getting in the way?”

Probably not.

Thank goodness.

Organizing stickers at home and online

I should have done this months ago, but I’m finally starting to organize the thousands of stickers at home, as well as the stickers in the digital database (numbering ~2,000 at present, with several hundred or possibly another 1,000) to add later/soon.  Now that I’m using the CONTENTdm software in their “Project Client,” I can add multiple items more quickly, and, even better, I can add columns of metadata related to the items (stickers).  Pretty exciting from the kitteh perspective!

I’m also creating an Excel worksheet to keep track of workflow, with a current total of 11 columns, including: file numbers, source, total number/format of image files per folder, archived in mylar pockets?,  where are sticker notebooks? loaded into CDM?, temporary location of image files, image modifications before archiving?, location of archived image files, and back-up location of  image files.  The whole thing is starting to get out of hand, so if I don’t start to take care of it now, I’m toast.

Here below is an image of the CONTENTdm software, in which I have created fields for metadata.  I currently have 39 fields, but some of them are for the actual stickers and some are for the digital image files.  With an online database (or even using old-style 3×5 cards), one needs to maintain information about the object itself (the actual stickers) as well as “information about the information” (i.e., metadata).



Flickr Photos

January 2010