“Don't Vote, Revolt!”


In the 90's, encroaching gentrification in the Lower East Side of New York City threatened to displace lower-class residents of the area. In response, many anarchists and squatters began persistently tagging the area with their anti-gentrification sentiments. In this example, the graffiti artist advocates against a capitalist democratic system that allows for the perpetuation of this issue in a call for viewers to take more direct action than is possible through bureaucratic systems. This tagline is deeply rooted in the anarchist ideology that was popular among those at risk of displacement. This tagline is accompanied by “an internationally recognized squatter's symbol.” It is thought that this symbol stands for “No Evictions” with the arrow of the N penetrating the space created by the O from the outside. 

 The content, format, and execution of this anarcho-graffiti all function to forward its goal. In its words and symbols, the content calls for rebellion against the system perpetuating gentrification. As a piece of graffiti, it also acts as a deterrent against potential new residents. The execution of this tag as an illegal act also means that the artist is living up to the anarchist ideology that they are advocating for. This holistic approach to proposing social change in the public sphere is inspiring in its refusal to feed into systems that are misaligned with their overall message. I think it's important for designers to consider how the format and implementation of their designs relate to their message and ideology.