Samuel Johnson is one of the original founders of Firecracker Studios, a local printmaking collaborative. Johnson, 36, describes himself as not very political before February of this year. "I wasn't vocal," he says. "But this, it seemed like you couldn't ignore it." The effects of the "budget repair bill" on so many people he talked to made an impact. "I thought it was ridiculous, and I was irritated," says Johnson.
Johnson has always been inspired by the hallmarks of "propaganda" art, which often relies on a bold, simple image to get its message across, with little text or no text at all. Colors like red and black - "those are ones I like," says Johnson. He decided that the best way he could contribute to the protests would be through art.
He designed three posters - direct, forceful, even funny. One is just a simple screenprint of a chess pawn with the letters WALKER at the bottom; one an image of Walker's face with the letters TOOL at the top. The third features a raised fist over the shape of the state with the slogan "Fight for a Fair Wisconsin." Johnson printed about 70 copies of each of the designs and brought them to one of the marches, giving them away. "They went super quick," he laughs, and they stood out among both the hand-lettered signs and the mass-produced placards.
Johnson is gratified that design seems to have done its job of persuasion in his case. He printed another edition of the Fight for a Fair Wisconsin poster, selling them for $10 through La Mestiza restaurant on Main Street in order to finance more printing.
Currently, Johnson observes, "things seem to have lost momentum. But now is the time to be out there."