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The VCFA MFA in Graphic Design Program Blog

Silas Munro (Author), Colette Gaiter (Introduction), Stephen Coles (Contributor) Strikethrough: Typographic Messages of Protest

June 1, 2023

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

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.

To read more and to order the book visit: