How to make a protest sign

About to go to a protest rally and need a great sign?

After a quick trip to the hardware store, you can create a neat, attention-grabbing sign in less than an hour’s worth of work.

In designing your sign, remember to keep it simple. You may already have a short statement in mind, but if you don’t, you should research your campaign. Call friends who share your passion and brainstorm a short, catchy phrase for your sign. Sometimes a two or three word phrase has the most impact since it can be painted in a larger font and read more easily in a crowd. Some protesters use the back side of the sign for a slightly longer message. You should always test longer messages by writing a few words of your message in the font that would fit your sign and then placing your sign at a distance to see how close one would have to be in order to read it.

Buying materials at the store is as easy as getting two pieces of poster board, a wide roll of clear tape, inexpensive tempura paint, a small paint brush, and perhaps stencil letters. If you suspect there will be windy conditions on the day of the protest, then you should buy thicker pasteboard and consider making a slightly smaller sign. When you look for paint, pick colors appropriate for your message that will stand out well against the background of the sign. Red and black letters on a white sign is traditional, but creative color schemes and day-glow colors often stand out better.

If you have friends who want to help create an extra large sign, you might consider spending the extra money to go to a sign shop and have them create a custom vinyl sign for you. You can tape sticks or broom handles to each end of the vinyl roll in order to hold it higher.

Assuming you’re using poster board for your sign, it’s a breeze to paint the letters. In general, stenciled letters look much better than rough hand-painted letters. If you bought stencils at the store, position them and use a pencil to lightly mark where the words will go. Avoid hyphenating words if possible. Then hold each stencil carefully as you paint the letters.

If you didn’t buy stencils, you can make your letters neater by using a yardstick and a pencil to line the paper with parallel lines for the top and bottom of each row of letters. Then use a ruler to help pencil in the straight lines for each letters, and a compass might be useful for helping make smoother curved letters. If you’re creative, you can incorporate an unusual font instead of simple block letters. Look on the internet for sample fonts. Once you’ve penciled out the letters to your satisfaction, it’s time to carefully paint inside the lines. If your font’s big enough to be easily readable in a rally, then it should be no problem to keep your lines neat.

After the paint dries, the final step is to attach it to a stick. Some high-tech protesters use telescoping sticks, but you can probably find a broomstick or something simple. Use a lot of tapes to attach the paper to the stick, and place the stick on the inside of the two pieces of paper. If you’re worried about rainy weather, then you can also buy a can of spray-polyurethane or another clear sealant to spray over the sign.

After the paint dries

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