What kind of banner you make depends on its purpose: is it for an outdoor rally or inside protest, do you need it to last or can it be disposable? Banners have to clearly communicate a message. Whether you're painting a banner to attract media attention or designing something just to be political, this guide will help you make the best banner possible.
It will cover:
What is your message
What materials you need
How to make it
How to carry it
Your message should be simple, understandable and easy to digest. Photographers want to find a banner that sums up your cause, so make sure to give them that opportunity for the most coverage possible. It also helps passer-bys get the gist of your rally at a glance and figure out if they want to march with you. Lots of graphics can be confusing or obscure your message and too much text can go by too fast for people to read. Make a list of bannerisms before you start: the more time you reflect on simple, catchy tag lines, the more effective they will be (think of the iconic: we are the 99%). Sometimes your group's name is the best banner line.
You can use anything that you can get your hands on to make a banner. Try:
roles of paper
cardboard boxes flattened
pieces of pallets (for supports)
masking tape (to secure your signs)
First, think about the size of your banner. If you want to have it mounted (to poles or lengths of wood) you don't want it to blow over at the lightest wind. A banner that's not more than one metre wide and three metres long is best. However, be aware of the pros and cons. Though more people will see where your group is marching, you will also attract the most attention from police.
Measure twice and cut once. If you're using bedsheets, painting the edges can stop them from fraying. Canvas can get really heavy when wet. Instead, use cotton fabrics. Don't be afraid to trace the outline of the letters in pencil and then go back with paint or markers. Use contrasting colours to highlight your words or letters. Leave spaces between your letters so it's legible. Don't leave any blank space. Adding a border around your text can help separate the banner from the background and is a good way to get noticed by the media. If you're using a logo, keep it simple so it can be seen from a distance.
Making your banner so it can be carried by two poles is a challenge. For a cloth banner, you can try adding sleeves to either side where the poles can fit in. However, the banner might sag in the middle. The more time consuming method is where you create a strap attached to each corner of the banner and tie them to the opposite side pole. You have to constantly check how tight the banner is, if it's folding or if it's tight enough to be flat. Each method has it's own strengths but no banner ever went horribly wrong from just taping it all together.
You can also elicit protesters to just hold the banner between them. This might work best on a windy or stormy day. Just make sure that these protesters are at the front of your rally.
Cut vents to allow wind to flow through larger banners. Place them strategically, so that they lie flat when there is no wind and open without disrupting your message when there's a breeze. Flaps can go in the spaces between words, inside open letters (like o's) and at the top and bottom of the banner, but leave at least 10 centimetres uncut along all sides to make sure your banner stays intact.
Keep the top of the banner tight! That's what makes it easy to read to photographers, the public and other protesters.