Inkworks: Visions of Peace & Justice

Professional artists and students of design, historians, sociologists and enthusiasts of poster art, all will go mad over the latest collection of political posters compiled into book form - Visions of Peace & Justice. With over 400 full color reproductions, the anthology presents more than 30 years worth of archived posters printed by Inkworks Press, which also happens to be the publisher of the book and one of America’s oldest worker-run print shops.

Poster by the San Francisco Poster Brigade.
[ Support Striking Miners in Stearns, Kentucky - Poster design by Rachael Romero of the San Francisco Poster Brigade. 1977. Street poster announcing a benefit concert and film showing for Kentucky’s coal miners. ]

Flipping through the pages of this anthology is like taking a walk through recent American history, and whatever your politics, you’re sure to be impressed by the scope of issues addressed by the posters as well as their overall sophisticated aesthetics. Divided into sections based on theme, the book organizes posters under the chapter headings of: Internationalism & Peace, Labor Movement, Racial Justice, Women’s Liberation, Queer Liberation, Environment & Public Health, Elections & Reforms, Arts & Culture.

Poster by Rupert Garcia
[ Mother Jones - Rupert Garcia. 1989. Garcia’s portrait of the American radical labor organizer, Mother Jones, was commissioned by Mother Jones magazine. ]

Inkworks Press was founded in the San Francisco Bay area of California in 1974, well past the high-water mark of 60’s activism, but you’d hardly know that by looking at the wide array of posters in the collective’s self-published book. Just about every issue, cause celeb or world event near and dear to progressives is represented in this sweeping collection. While the worker-run shop printed posters for groups and individuals from outside of the Bay area, most of the cooperative’s jobs were printed for local clients - making this anthology an indispensable documentation of the Bay area community’s leftwing culture between the years of 1974 through 2007.

Poster by Leon Sun
[ La Peña: 15 Years of Cultural Activism for Social Justice - Leon Sun. 1990. Poster celebrating Berkeley’s famous cultural community center. ]

I have my own growing collection of political posters and flyers that I’ve been vigorously accumulating for decades now, and a good portion of my archives are comprised of works that come from the San Francisco Bay area. I’ve had the good fortune to acquire original silkscreen posters by Doug Minkler, Rupert Garcia, the San Francisco Poster Brigade, the Fireworks Graphics collective, and many other notable artists and art collectives from the region - and all have outstanding entries in the published compilation by Inkworks. The volume also features insightful essays by author and archivist Lincoln Cushing (editor of the book), photographer David Bacon, activists Angela Davis and Anuradha Mittal, the director of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Carol Wells, and others. You can purchase the book from Amazon.com.

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