Lack of direction and clarity. Preaching to the converted. Inaccessible language.
All of these have been used to describe the Occupy Movement and why it isn’t working. The mission statement for the Occupy movement, provided by Adbusters, certainly encompasses all of these things and as someone that might fall into the “converted” category I am not without my biases.
But what did Adbusters do that put Occupy on the map? What DID work and how can we (the people) replicate it?
Thanks to the technological generation with a love of all things facebook and internet-like, just these resources are being provided, most likely found through a couple key strokes into Google’s search bar. Adbuster’s famous “Bull and the ballerina” image kick started what would be seen as the very beginning of the Occupy movement, it’s imagery strong and it’s information (mostly) clear. Using the same color scheme adopted by many of the Occupy spin-off sites, the black and white photo with a hint of red text makes a statement.
“What is our one demand?” reads the red text hovering above a singular, stationary ballerina atop New York’s bull. “#OccupyWallStreet September 17th. Bring Tent.”
Not counting the hashtag, the date and the suggestion of a tent is the only other written information on the poster. The same reason why this poster works is the same reason why other info-graphics work: Simplicity. A simple color scheme and easily recognizable images or symbols allows for a visually appealing message that piques attention and also educates. This is what the technological youth of our time have shown they do well, and as displayed by Adbusters and their use of the hashtag, perhaps they know just the audience with the skill set and motivation to make something happen (the hashtag specifically speaking to youth and those on Twitter.)
Here are a few of those websites whose goal is to educate through art, using technology to create and the internet to distribute, in order to raise awareness, increase solidarity, and inspire.
What’s unique about the Occupy Design website is that it was one of the first to utilize the web to mobilize on-the-ground protestors and allow people to get involved with the Occupy movement that otherwise would not have been able to. Occupy Design recognized early on the role of graphic art in social action and protests and its ability to link, mobilize, and inspire people.
“The project’s goal is to create freely available visual tools around a common graphic language. 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.”
By providing a “tool kit” of free downloadable fonts, logos, and symbols, Occupy Design inspires people and gives them the resources they need without hindering creativity. This way people can take the same elements and create their own poster or info-graphic, utilizing their knowledge and creative talents and telling their individual visual story. Here again we see the repetition of a black and white color scheme (printer friendly) and the use of simplistic images and symbols.
The Occupy fist logo, extremely popular, simple, and easily-recognized, comes from the creators of the Occupy Design website and is seen at Occupy Protests everywhere. This simple logo unites the people with a message of solidarity and purpose in an easy downloadable and printable format, much like many of the other posters shared and offered in the Occupy Design gallery provided on the site.
Occupy Together’s website is immediately visually appealing, using a three-color scheme of black, white, and red (much like Adbusters and a similar black and white scheme for Occupy Design.)
“Occupy Together” is displayed at the top of the page and functions not only as a graphic header but also a mission statement, in just two words, what it is that this website is about. The sliding photo bar rotates images to catch the viewers’ attention in that crucial first 3 seconds of viewing a website, the motion working just as much as the repetitive color scheme.
“Click here to find an occupy group in your area” and “plan or start solidarity actions in your area” images next to the photo bar link you to an interactive calendar of Occupy movements going on across the United States.
Within three clicks I was at the “Occupy Boston – Umass” map. The obvious plus to this feature is that no matter where you are a map to the nearest protest is right at your fingertips doing almost everything except delivering you there. The downside is the information for specific cities or towns does not seem to be up-to-date. As a University of Massachusetts student I can look out of my window and see that there is, in fact, no Occupy-ing going on here at Umass anymore. Despite the “comments/corrections” button underneath the map, the information seems to have gone unkept.
Perhaps along with the countless 99% posters hanging up around campus and elsewhere, we should be printing out and hanging up hashtag and Occupy Design URL posters in order to add to the info-graphic conversation occurring on bulletin boards and telephone poles everywhere.
Seeking to answer one of the most pressing questions (What can we do and just how hard will it be?), How To Occupy’s possibilities seem endless. However the viewer is still somehow immobilized and with such an intense flood of information it can seem overwhelming. This website, a great resource for those already involved and planning, might not be as simple and visually appealing as the info-graphics of Occupy Design, Occupy George, or OccuPrint but it speaks specifically to the increase of solidarity, education, and information sharing that the info-graphics do so well.
Here are some young guys who know how to generate buzz surrounding the Occupy Movement using their own creative talents.
Here’s what How To Occupy says beautifully in their mission statement: “We are an open community based on free information, we believe in the power of synergy applied to creative commons and copyleft for the benefit of the many. Our goal is to establish a universal and accessible database made up of documents related to peaceful civil disobedience and grassroots practices, spreading it physically and on-line to the very assemblies, occupations and groups around the whole world.”
Clarity. Now that is something I can get excited about.
Creating the average Occupyer’s Survival Guide is not an easy task but it is something that these websites have been doing well, visually educating and linking protestors everywhere. The reason the Occupy Movement is vital in the discussion of info-graphics is because it started with a graphic. It did something right and it got people talking (and tweeting.) The internet, art, and people are increasingly fused together so that in some cases it is impossible to pull them apart without talking about the whole. These are the things that have worked and continue to work for info-graphics and their designers everywhere, making the power of not only the images and text clear but also of the people who use them.