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SERISE: Sects Sell — : Zendik Farm

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.

When I was 13, and newly allowed to go places with my, friends by myself, two places I went often were Georgetown and White Flint Mall. When I was reading through the cult list I made with my roommate, I thought Zendik Farm would be an easy one. I’ll just draw a stop bitching start a cult bumper sticker! But obviously I started working and Hannah started reading me blogs from ex-members, so I decided to take the bumper stickers that were aggressively sold/panhandled on the streets of Georgetown and combine them with another primary influence: Limited Too

Cult Inspo

Zendik Farm is way more complicated than I ever knew, tbh. We spent quite a lot of time with an FAQ written by ex-member Helen Zuman. I recommend her FAQ page if you want more details and I’ll buy her book at some point.

Basically, they’re a supposed commune that’s actually basically a dictatorship. They insult each other publicly, have sex meetings to decide who can fuck, and claim to be ecological advocates but drive hundreds of miles every day to sell shit to randos.

They’re p famous in DC for the omnipresent stop bitching and start a revolution bumper stickers and I died a little learning how much merch they sold. LOOK AT THIS:

Ad Inspo

This is less retro than my usual picks, but I couldn’t resist framing it after a Limited Too catalog. They have so much merch! Why not more effectively market it to the young women of 1999! We got that v specific font, bright borders, and impractical products.

To keep it appealing for 1999 tween BOYS, I have included the howling wolves. You know the ones:

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SERIES: Sects Sell – The Raelians

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

Like last week, the shading of this pieces is in done with a gouache procreate brush and mimics shading used by midcentury artists

Also like last week, I used the digital Gouache brushes from Retro Supply Co on Creative Market for all of the texture on this piece. (Full disclosure, like last week, I’m a new Creative Market partner, so I get a small portion of the proceeds if you purchase those brushes at no extra cost to you.)

Anyway I think it’s clear that my main inspiration was The Real World, a really …specific MTV program.

I was in my car, having just finished a podcast I will describe shortly in the Cult Inspo section of this blog post and the concept came to me, as if in a dream.


When people stop being nice…
and start being real drunk.

Cult Inspo

Guys! The Raelians! I did a version of this piece at the very beginning of this project — Lauren Hom recommend you have at least three done to launch a passion project — but I wasn’t in love with it. I hung onto it in case there was a week I couldn’t get it together to make one before Friday.

And THEN, I listened to the Oh No, Ross and Carrie! episodes about The Raelians and their annual conference and I was INSPIRED. The Raelians do so much weird shit! They have their hands in an unbelieveably long list of absurd projects including some you’ve probably heard of.

I’m gonna talk to them in relation to the shirts on the Rael World-ian’s in this piece.

  1. Far left: aliens. They believe in aliens. They love aliens. When they get baptize, their consciousnesses get transmitted to aliens in space. And I love the X-files.
  2. Second from the left: queers. The t-shirt is the symbol for bisexuality bc I’m bi — hollaaaa — and it’s a good fit for these folks because they’re pro LGBTQIA+ folks and poly folks and open marriages and basically whatever you’re tryna do in the sex and relationship department. At their conference they have colored bracelets to indicate what level of open they are to banging other attendees. This is exactly like the middle school fuck bracelets that the news was telling our parents were a thing! But real! And on consenting adults! What!
  3. Third from the left in the back row: that’s the symbol the Raelians use because their original symbol had a SWASTIKA in it!
  4. Center: The Elohim Embassy Annual Fundraiser. The Raelians are building an embassy for when the aliens roll in and the guy that’s in charge of planning, funding, and building it was selected because … he called Rael and asked if he could? Classic!
  5. Third from the right: a lady without a shirt on. The Raelians are at the forefront of the Free the Nipple movement, fam. Not only is gotopless.org a real website, it’s also a thing they really paint on their chests.
  6. Second from the right: Clonaid. The Raelians are very into cloning. They think it’s how humans are gonna become immortal. So they started a company called Clonaid. It’s registered in the Bahamas like all reputable science enterprises doing legit research primarily in Canada. A woman who – I’m sad to report – is named Brigitte claimed in the 90s that they cloned a baby named Eve. But Eve was born to a lady via C-section and nobody let anybody test any of the DNA.
  7. Far right: anti-war. The Raelians are big time peace protestors and that shirt is based on a real life shirt that said “NO WAR … ET WANTS PEACE TOO” with that punctuation.

Guys, this could not have been a more glorious journey and I am grateful you came on it alongside me.

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SERIES: Sects Sell — Full Circle Venice

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 played with the cut paper style prominent in quite a bit of mid-century abstract illustration.


I’m probably not blowing your mind with this medium — cut paper wasn’t super different then than it is now — but there are some elements I didn’t realize were from that era and inspired by cut paper.

This starburst is a common element of them, for example.

This painting by Dick Hersey is a really great example of more abstract geometric art. It was painted in the early 1950s and includes that iconic wave shape.

I didn’t pick a specific ad format bc I wanted to include a nod to the Andrew Keegan vehicle slash the thing I know him from besides this cult-y situation.

BAM.

He’s not even on that movie cover.

Cult Inspo:

Guys, Full Circle Venice is … a lot. This was a fun one to do, though, because it’s not really a murderin’ and bangin’ cult. Andrew Keegan at some point showed back up in the public conscious in a beanie and some beads.

For reference, here is young Keeg, to the right.

Here he is, on the left, with a cult and a partner and a baby. I picked this photo bc his baby is hiding.

So, like, he’s a mess, but also there was a BIG bust at a fundraiser Full Circle hosted, and they got into a LOT of trouble… for selling kombucha that was exactly 1% ABV instead of slightly under 1% ABV, which requires a liquor license.

So, I obviously illustrated hi head shape and a kombucha joke, but the crown cut paper jewel — dat background — is based on “the convergence mural” on the side of the Full Circle building in Venice, CA.

This is that mural. I picked the space part bc duh, but interestingly, some of these shapes are p related to retro cut paper.

FYI, the brand is Kombucha Dog and every bottle has a pic of a dog you can adopt. Pls see below.

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SERIES: Sects Sell – Flat Earthers

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 was such a fun one to work on, y’all. The iconography is based on Atomic Age design. There was a huge boom between the 1940s and 1960s in architecture, ad design, and interior decoration in art that reflected the major concerns of the times. This period roughly aligns with the Cold War and centers atomic science, nuclear warfare, and the Space Race.

I was super excited to learn that, because it ties directly to a conspiracy theory attached to this belief system.

A super famous example of Atomic Age art is the Atomium in Brussels, which I saw last fall in person! Here is a gratuitious selection of cool pictures I took of it:

Anyway, an element of this era is The Jetsons! And actually I discovered that there is a TON of incredible texture in the 1960s version of the show!

Look at that! Building from that aesthetic, I went into some prevalent mediums from the era and I decided it was time to experiment with fake Gouache. I used the digital Gouache brushes from Retro Supply Co on Creative Market for all of the texture on this piece! (Full disclosure, I’m a new Creative Market partner, so I get a small portion of the proceeds if you purchase those brushes at no extra cost to you!

Cult Inspo

This is our first non-traditional cult, so I wanted to take the opp to talk a bit about how I’m choosing what goes into this series. The thing that interests me most about the fringes of society — whether that’s cults, or serial killers, or child prodigies, or people that sail around the world for five years — is that they’re extreme. This series is specifically about when that extremism becomes destructive.

I think there’s a lot to learn about society and the human psyche about the ways in which things go wrong.

So flat earthers are an extremely sect of society even though they’re not a formal body with a compound or a leader.

Anyway.

Direct from the homepage.

Flat Earthin’ is pretty much what it sounds like. I spent quite a bit of time on the Flat Earth Society website and oh my god. Rather than sharing a summary, I’d like to share my favorite parts of the site.

This is the first FAQ and it’s my absolute favorite.

Are you serious?

Yes.


This section is the most indicative of the lunacy of this system of belief. So I’ll go ahead and annotate that for us.

Why would People Lie About The Shape Of The Earth?

The million dollar question.

There are three common explanations for this, but in the end without toppling the Planar Conspiracy there is no real way to know.

The Planar Conspiracy is the name of my new all-women punk band. I am the drummer. Watch this space for our new single dropping soon.

Okay, remember 11 seconds ago when we talked about the Cold War?

  • To Maintain Legitimacy: During the Cold War we faked the moon landing. Shortly after they realized the reason they could not reach the moon was due to the flatness of the Earth. They were stuck in a lie, and had to continue it or lose legitimacy of our governments. Even today we would still hold onto this lie due to role Science plays in our ruling government. 

Our government is so full of fucking religious bullshit and the current administration is decimating our natural resources bc ~*~*feelings*~*~, but okay, bud.

  • To hide the truth of the Bible.

Here’s that sweet, sweet cult bullshit. Elsewhere in the FAQs it says, “it would be impossible to deny the strong historical ties with Christianity by past Presidents of the Society.” which, obviously.

  • To Gain Power and Money: By siphoning off the space budgets and denying the world the resources of the Antarctic they gain a considerable amount of power and wealth.

This is fucking incredible. We are cutting the space exploration budget real hard – with the obvious exception of the space force star wars galaxy quest bullshit we got goin’ on rn – so what money even would that be? And what benefit could Antarctica have to us if it just drops tf off the planet into space? Space oil?

In fact, elsewhere in the FAQs it says:

As evidenced by the logo of the United Nations the Earth is a round disk of infinite dimensions. The geographic North Pole is located in the center of the disk, and the Antarctic lies around the outer edges. 

How can there be edges of a disc with infinite dimension?

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SERIES: Sects Sell – The Moonies

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:

My inspo for this morphed quite a bit over the process of this piece and was something totally different at the end. I started out with a very cliche “misused quotation mark” ad page, but ended at 1960s-ish album cover. Which isn’t technically an ad, but whatever. It’s week 3 of this brand new series. I do what I want.

The hallmarks I pulled from said album covers:

  • Heavy shading – this is a hallmark of the mid-century modern style
  • Ebullient font – I love these dweeby, gameshow sitcom letters so much
  • Clear misunderstanding of the human form –
The weird bodies are specifically inspired by a dude named Alexander Girard, who was mostly a textile man, but also illustrated a book called Color in the early 1970s. This style of human body is clearly reflect in the cover illustration, which is called Girls.
Because it’s got girls, I assume. Here is one dope spread from the same book:


The hallmarks I pulled from anachronistic sources:

  • The Goonies title font

Cult Inspo

Revisiting the Moonies after a bit away from them was honestly a bit of a letdown. People refer to them by this very interesting and mysterious name, but when the lights come on, it turns out that’s just a dudes name and this is regular, old-fashioned, misogynistic, patriarchal, paternalistic, Christians-based cult, just like America.

ANYWAY, the real name was Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, or HSA-UWC. Then they renamed it to Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, or FFWPU. Then I assume everyone in the world realized they didn’t know what tf an acronym is for and they were too busy doing weird versions of sacraments to learn. So we call them the Moonies now.

The group was founded in Korea and in 1971, Mr. Moon moved to the US and spoke at Madison Square Garden and on the grounds of the Washington Monument. Apparently he spoke to 300,000 people, which is more people than have every shown up to hear Trump speak. AYOOOO! SHE’S GETTING POLITICAL!

The church got real big in the early 70s and then in the mid-70s anti-cult folks started talking about the church and in 1982, Moon when to jail for tax fraud. Isn’t it always the way? Shortly after that, he told everyone to go home and be missionaries there instead of bothering him and, I assume, took a nap.

Purportedly (by them) the group is all about science, but they recently sent an author out into the world to publish a book questioning evolution, which was super fucking established when they were all “Science is dope” in the 70s.

The thing you probably know about them is that they were all about that sweet, sweet mass wedding-slash-blessing-ceremony. BUT! they also invented a new kind of funeral and then said they wouldn’t do it for poor people.

They had one a couple years ago and the photos are on Buzzfeed and they are IN.SANE.

Add classist and hypocritical to the list of adjectives from up top!

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SERIES: Sects Sell – The Rajneeshees

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 is inspired by the large letter postcards that were genuinely prevalent from the 1930s – 1950s and are now kind of ironically prevelant, usually in a way that mocks Florida. The general characteristics are large block letters, sometimes filled with secondary images, and the words “greetings from…”

Interesting fact I had not previously know: in this era, most postcards were made of linen, not paper, and it was common for those linen postcards to be textured. I’m guessing it felt a bit like thick money which, in related news, is my stripper name. COPYRIGHT.

This link will tell you to some examples from around the world.

Cult Inspo:

If you’ve never heard of the Rajneeshees, it is my strong recommendation that you watch Wild, Wild Country on Netflix ASAP. It’s very long, but it’s so. so. good.

Look how freaking creepy this documentary looks!

If you refuse to participate in your own education, the Rajneeshees are a cult that started in India, came to America medium illegally, bought a ranch in Oregon, and terrorized the adjacent town of Antelope by rigging their elections and sprinkling their salad bars with poison. As far as I can tell, their values are extreme capitalism, taking whatever you want, and yelling quite a bit while clothed and then, later, nude.

There’s also a lot of infighting and selling each other down the river slash out of the country and listening to these people explain themselves on Netflix has been a highlight of my time watching television with my roommate, Hannah.

The most infuriating thing is that the horrifying leader, the Baghwan Shree Rajneesh, decided later in his life that he wanted to be called Osho. And they just fully switched over, nbd. And NOW a lot of white girls you know are probably posting inspirational quotes attributed to Osho! The man that was like, “absolutely, get AFTER that salad bar poisoning so we can be the king of antelope and continue our substandard construction!,” probably.

Look at what a creep this guy is!

Like. If that doesn’t make you want to change your mind and watch WWC, I don’t know what to do with you.

Anyway, this postcard is of their ranch, Rajneeshpuram and tbh it’s pretty spot on.

Look at what happens when you make your yoga followers build their own houses and stuff!

If you’ve seen the doc, I encourage you to try to find the syringe hidden in someone’s pocket. You can do it if you haven’t seen the documentary, but you won’t know why it’s shocking and/or hilarious.

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SERIES: Sects Sell – Heaven’s Gate

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:

The aesthetic of the print ad is square in the middle of the 1950s. In particular, there’s a subset of home and travel ads and catalogues that feature script with rounded bodies, but tapered serifs — the cover of this catalogue on the right is a great example. It also shows pretty clearly the graphic style of the time, which doesn’t aim for photo-realism, but also stays pretty true to form.

Click through to see the full catalogue — it’s super interesting to see the floor plans that were popular

The actual shape of the sign is based on the famous Sky Ranch Motel from the Vegas Motel Park. I’ll just say it’s one of the … seedier … options available to your 1950s tourist(?). The sign is iconic and it features prominently in a lot of parodies of Vegas.

Cult Inspo:

I would be very surprised to learn that you’d never heard of Heaven’s Gate, the cult where everyone dressed in matching Nike and walked in formation and ate in unison and believed that the Hale Bopp Comet was gonna take them to heaven, but just in case, I’ll share from their website, which is, famously, maintained to this day using funds the group amazed before they all committed suicide so they’d catch their proverbial train.

“A member of the Kingdom of Heaven then left behind His body in that Next Level (similar to putting it in a closet, like a suit of clothes that doesn’t need to be worn for awhile), came to Earth, and moved into an adult human body (or “vehicle”) that had been “prepped” for this particular task. The body that was chosen was called Jesus.”

– direct from Heavens Gate Dot Com

Heaven’s Gate posted a press release on their geocities expage live journal from hell — or heaven, I guess, get it, I got jokes, this is going great. Here are the three sentences I reacted to most audibly:

  • We came from [the Kingdom of Heaven] Level, that time, that space, and entered this one. And in so doing, we had to enter human bodies — which we did, for the most part, in the mid-seventies.
  • If you should choose to [follow us], logistically it is preferred that you make this exit somewhere in the area of the West or Southwest of the United States — but if this is not possible — it is not required.
  • You must call on the name of TI and DO to assist you. In so doing, you will engage a communication of sorts, alerting a spacecraft to your location where you will be picked up after shedding your vehicle, and taken to another world — by members of the Kingdom of Heaven.

So that’s Heaven’s Gate! Tune in next week for the Rajneeshees!

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SERIES: Sects Sell

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.

Series Title Card – January 2019

Ad Inspo:

AD INSPO:

The shape of the logo is inspired by the Holiday Inn Great Sign, see below, which is the real name of the marquee sign that the chain used exclusively from its founding through the 1970s. By the mid-1980s, the signs has been phased out entirely, much to the chagrin of founder, Kemmons Wilson. He legit has the sign etched into his tombstone. That’s not a joke.


The lettering is based on the iconic game show title card font primarily used in the 1960s — even Jeopardy! used a version while Art Fleming was still the host, as you can see above.

I also threw in some stars reminiscent of Sky Ranch motel, but I’m going to save that deep dive for the next piece in the series.

Cult Inspo:

There’s not so much in the way of cult inspo in this prelaunch week, but the title of the series, “Sects Sell,” is a play on the old chestnut “Sex Sells.” I’m calling it an old chestnut because that provides me some psychic and emotional distance from that fairly gross phrase, as well as the concept which, you know, isn’t wrong just because it’s icky.

The title gives me some room to explore both different levels of cultiness and different kinds of old-school advertising. Which I look forward to doing in this space every Friday!

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