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BEHIND THE SCENES: Activist Commission for Pride

Quick content warning: this post touches on homophobia and includes images of some homophobic slurs.

Scott Whalen and I went to college together, so when he asked me – over cocktails and Ru Paul’s Drag Race – about an idea he had for some shirts, I was totally game.

The idea was to reclaim slurs that had been used against him and other queer folks in a series of t-shirts. He told me that, as a cis white dude, he felt he had the privilege to make the more provocative statements and, thus, a responsibility.

During our initial concept conversation, we discussed a simple sans serif block letter, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how we might better convey the idea that these were being employed by someone at Scott, not just employed by Scott. He asked for something that was bold and aggressive, and something active vs passive.

I came back to him with a few ideas: including a westboro baptist sign feel, a scrawl on a locker, or a social media platform. I wanted it to be clear that the words had been employed at Scott, not by Scott.

After some sketching, I ended up focusing in on a painted sign concept. Not exactly the iconic westboro hate speech posters, but one that that someone scrawled for a counter protest. I got to work developing types of paint strokes and sent him a few options:

From here, Scott decided he was on board with the paint pen concept. His feedback was to combine two of the letter styles — which is a GREAT piece of feedback to give an artist if you’re working on a commission! He told me he liked the Q and U of the last paint brush option and the E E R on the second line. That tells me he likes a rounded brush tip and a sketchier stroke where the paint isn’t fully covering the surface.

We also had previously discussed accent marks. We looked at some florals and some fruit to go along with related slurs, but decided not to move forward with them. But! When I sent him samples of all the words — notice the rounded ends of the letters and sketchier paint coverage — I asked if he preferred plain letters or if he was interested in these sign-making accents I had experimented with. He decided to go with them, so a variety of accents were reflected on the proofs I sent him. They’re also reflected on the final shirts. Swipe through the images below to see the final shirts!

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SERIES: Sects Sell — The Red Pill

Launched in January 2019, Sects Sell is my weekly opportunity to explore a cult and experiment with a mid-century-ish, retro style of advertisement. New pieces are posted every Friday on this page and on Instagram – follow this and other work at @bridgetmakesstuff.

Ad Inspo

This week I was sitting with my roommate Hannah, looking at mid-century ads for a different project she’s doing — there’s only one brand between us — and I got into 1950s medicine ads. They are nuts. Here’s a whole list of them from Thrillist. So I say to Hannah, “I’d really like to do a Sects Sell illustration about meds when I can figure out the right topic,” and then 10 minutes later realize that’s obviously The Red Pill.

This was the first ad that caught my attention. Not least because it’s called Guy’s Tonic. The font and language fit perfectly, so I cribbed that, but this ad was made in the 1950s in the style of ads in the 1800s. Cool, but not super indicative of a mid-century specific style.

I opted for a pretty traditional format and layout, in terms of mid-century ads: an isolated image surrounded by text. And just to be clear, I mean SURROUNDED:

To achieve this newsprint-y look, I used True Grit’s Beat Tone procreate brush set — you can see that and all the brushes I used to achieve retro looks in this collection. (Full disclosure, like last week, I’m a Creative Market partner, so I get a small portion of the proceeds if you purchase those brushes — at no extra cost to you.)

In terms of that sales copy, I looked entirely to the subject matter for that…

Cult Inspo

The Red Pill movement is a bunch of mad dudes on the internet, mostly, that are not dating or having sex as much as they like. They believe this is the fault of women being superficial and selecting men with great bodies that are mean to them — it’s definitely not because you’re the kind of dude that gets on the internet and bitches about women but refuses to examine the hypocrisy of that choice, or basically any other thing about yourself.

The name comes from the Matrix, where Neo takes The Red Pill to unlock the truth. This Red Pill tells you the truth about women. Real cool stuff, man. The Blue Pill has become a movement mostly for folks that once ascribed to that belief system and no longer do.

I thought it might be fun and sad to use this absurdly long ad copy to draw the parallel between mid-century advertising and TRP. They are both sexist to a level I find unbelievable. End of parallels.

I used the new procreate font feature for this section, so I could really focus on the illustration and lettering the title.

That’s it for this week! I’m going back and filling in blog posts for all of the Sects Sell pieces I missed, so keep an eye out for that!

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TOOL: Creative Market brushes

I’m a Creative Market Affiliate. I buy nearly all of my procreate brushes from them and they’re a central part of my process. I wanted to share a couple of my faves with you this week!

Full disclosure: my affiliation earns me a small commission at no extra cost to you, but I will never share a product here that I don’t genuinely love.

I use the Gouache brushes very, very often — they’re the central element of the Sects Sell series’ retro vibe and a really nice option for a fade effect. The neon brushes are really fun and easy to employ to really beautiful effect. The sparkle and glitter textures are the same way — a good quick addition to a mock-up. Finally, the paint brush set is a simple, workhorse set, that does exactly what it says it does. Check them out below!

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What brushes did I miss out on? What kinds of effects do you need help making? What other kinds of tools would you like to see in this series? Let me know in the comments!