@OccupyDesign archiving visual language @OccupyTogether

by allthingsace

Piggy-backing on my last post concerning the message and highlighting some of the visual statements coming out of the occupy movement, I have discovered OccupyDesign.org. OccupyDesign started on October 14-15 as a coordinated effort from Occupiers on both the west and the east coast.

Occupy Design is a grassroots project connecting designers with on-the-ground demonstrators in the Occupy Together movement. The project’s goal is to create freely available visual tools around a common graphic language to unite the 99%. The project places an emphasis on producing infographics and icons to improve the communication of the movement’s messages and the data surrounding them across the world.

OccupyDesign is a much-needed facilitator for one of the occupy movements biggest challenges — articulating their message in a way that can translate into action. However, from what I see on their site so far, these are baby steps in the right direction.

Designs found on the site are split into three categories: protest, logistical and universal. Protests signs use recognizable symbols, male & female bathroom icons, dollar signs, and arrows, as well as a bar graph to illustrate financial inequality. Additonally, in an effort to be true to an highly contoversial ethics of non-violence*, text signs provide the disclaimer, “We don’t make DEMANDS so THIS is a suggestion.”

Logistical signs indicate occupation logistics including where waste is meant to go, where bathrooms are and recycling happens. The logistical signs point to the occupy movement’s effort to stay organized and tidy in the midst of a vast communal living space.

And finally, the universal signs, while they are few represent larger concepts; human rights, justice, peaceful protest, community and then out of left field, factory?


No doubt ideas such as community and human rights, are big, but they are seemingly more manageable in a visual form. Imagining the complexity of community, which include people, spaces, responsibility, group autonomy, compared to its symbol, three identical people, which seems less overwhelming. These symbols also indicate a collective consciousness that might encapsulate differing degrees of understanding but an understanding no less that these ideas have meaning for the movement. To some extent, over analyzing the concept could become more detrimental than using the concept as a springboard for discussion, but more desireably, for action.


OccupyDesign also encourages and provides tutorials for those interested in creating signs for the movement on their Resources page. Tonight I have seen a handful of tweets coming in from individuals who are making designs and posting them to the OccupyDesign Flickr page, where there is a slideshow that I highly recommend looking through.

The movement is growing** and not only are protestors angry, but they are willing to speak out verbally and visually.

*At tonight’s GA (11/09/11) OccupyOakland voted down proposal 2, which was All Inclusive Tactics/ Bridge Difference/ Responsible Black Bloc: @garonson, Vote’s in, with 15.8% approval: 112-599. 148 abstentions. Needless to say, black bloc proposal fails. #occupyoakland. Check out the meeting minutes for further clarification on this decision.
**Again at OccupyOakland’s GA there was a larger crowd: #occupyoakland judging by vote numbers, about 700-800 ppl here tonight. That’s several times more than the last few GAs.
It has also been reported that there are approx. 3,000 protestors at Sproul Hall for #OccupyCal.