Historically, posters have been a relatively cheap and quick way to disseminate information and ideas. Often, in opposition to commercial posters which promote the consumption of products, political posters, as a genre, have been used much in the same way as political graffiti – to promote grassroots political and philosophical ideas and movements.
Today, political poster-makers expand upon the historic role of their predecessors, often straddling the line of fine art printmaking. Almost exclusively, they produce hand-printed, limited-edition serigraphs (screenprints) or prints produced using letterset presses – rather than using machines to print offset lithographs, which is the printing process most commonly associated with ‘large-run’ commercial posters.
Minnesota has a unique and vibrant graphic arts community; the community of printmakers and poster artists is no exception.
Poster Offensive is a biennial political poster exhibit created in 2004 by Jeff Johnson, owner and creative director of Spunk Design Machine (these exhibits currently coincide with election cycles). According to the exhibit organizers, Poster Offensive is “an independent, non-partisan poster show, which utilizes the politically potent medium of the poster to showcase contemporary interpretations and critiques of political and social issues.”
Although many of the artworks in the Poster Offensive exhibits deal specifically with the elections with which they coincide, some reflect larger issues, including local food movements, conservation of natural resources, freedom of speech, unemployment, immigration, women’s rights, and, like these presented here from the 2012 Poster Offensive 6, the recent proposed ‘marriage’ amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution. Designed, illustrated, and printed by Jeff Johnson, Bill Ferenc, and Andy Weaver of Spunk Design Machine, a Minneapolis-based design boutique, these two versions of Equal Equals Love were recently added to the Fine Art collection at the Minnesota Historical Society.
Ben Gessner, Collections Associate
Click images above to see them larger. To learn more, please go to Collections Online:
Paul Bunyan and Jolly Green Giant
Dorothy and Betty Crocker
To learn even more: