Justin Kemerling is that rare mix of artists and organizer. He both organized the Power To The Poster campaign, seeking poster designs that are catalysts for change, and contributed some great designs himself. We got the chance to catch up with Justin recently, and here's what we learned:
Where are you from?
Omaha, Nebraska, Midwest, America
How did you became an artist?
I’d say I’m a designer, activist, collaborator. How that came to be is a mixture of punk rock, political science, being from this flat, conservative state in the middle of the country and feeling like I just have to make something all the time.
What made you want to start “Power To The Poster?”
The website was started to get people talking about the issues, not candidates, in the 2008 election. At the time, it involved everything I was concerned with; politics, graphic design, democracy, creative commons and the Web. I made a lot of posters for the site as it became an outlet for me to explore issues and try to visually move people to action.
One of Justin's designs for Power To The Poster - "What is America?"
How does a great design communicate effectively to people?
Great design moves people. In some way it touches a chord, compels them to action or causes a shift. It’s illuminating, thought-provoking and meaningful. The best examples of this inspire people and bring their own individual understanding to a new place that allows for an altering or solidifying of current perspectives.
How do you feel about the connection of PTTP to CAN?
This is a great next step forward for PTTP. Now we’re tied into a network of other campaigns and designers on a streamlined, unified platform which will help the project get to the next level. There was a lot of thought around what to do next, if anything at all. CAN has allowed us to reignite PTTP. We’re bringing in some of the most compelling original designs and seeking new posters under the same central question: “As a global citizen, what moves you?”
"(Re)Make America" by Justin Kemerling for Power To The Poster.
If you could only pick one poster to have up in your entire house, what would it be and why?
Victore’s RACISM print. With six teeth and some red I don’t think there’s a better definition of this horrible thing that is at the root of so many of our problems. It’s a powerful reminder of the work we still need to do.
How do you come up with your ideas?
Words first. Then sketches. Then onto the computer. Which is always followed by laying flat on the floor starring up at the ceiling while listening to KEXP. Then a walk with the dog around the neighborhood. Then back to the computer. Then nighttime at the computer. Keeping at it, keeping at it, keeping at it. The music is loud. Then sleep. Then I pick it up in the morning to see where I’m at. Refine as needed.
What are you working on these days when you’re not designing for CAN?
To make voting so fucking awesome you can’t not do it.
Our Green New Deal campaign premiered on March 14, 2019 in Washington D.C., at Bold V. Old, a daylong convening where speakers including Stacey Abrams, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris discussed bold ideas for our biggest problems, including the Green New Deal. On March 16 In Oakland, CA, Creative Action Network joined artists and activists at the Green New Deal Create-A-Thon, where youth artists from the Sunrise Movement and others worked on new designs for the collection. Youth activist Rio says that after seeing videos of Greta Thunberg leading student climate strikes in Europe, “me and my sister were empowered to make some sort of difference.” Rio and his sister Maddy recently rose to internet stardom when their student group confronted Senator Feinstein about the Green New Deal a few weeks ago. Maddy says she is now “trying to make my voice be more heard, go to marches, and more creative stuff, definitely!”