Political Signpainting

Written by Joshua Lurie-Terrell on November 4, 2004

Jeff Nelson lives in Toledo, Ohio, and in addition to being a talented musician — he is the drummer for punk/hardcore outfit Minor Threat and co-founder of Dischord Records — he is also a talented signpainter, and turns most of his attention to adorning the front lawn of his home with very pointed political statements.

Thanks, Metafilter!


  1. Toby says:

    He left a zero off the Iraqi dead figure.

  2. Dear oh dear, JLT! Do you want to turn typographica into a political discussion blog or some sort of anti-Bush platform? Go ahead do that if you like – it’s your site. Just be prepared to turn a lot of people off who’d rather talk type – whether they agree with your sentiments or not.
    Sure – someone could counter with photos of an artful Bush-supporting front lawn – (or perhaps this hilarious collection) but do you really want to keep discussing a divisive subject like politics on these pages? Perhaps we should also talk about gay marriage, abortion, religion, immigration. Name your subject and somehow angle type or lettering into it. Sheesh!

  3. Hrant says:

    Some people like inciting dialog, others prefer sipping martinis.


  4. Jon Young says:

    Joshua. Great of you to post this. Jeff is a fantastic artist. A little while ago I spent a day or so with Jeff when he was still here in DC, discussing his work, and photographing tons of it. Since then, I’ve been working to get it up on the ol’ internet. Soon…

    Martin. Jeff’s signs seem to me to be an awesome intersection of politics and letters. Or maybe anger and letters. In fact, it’s what makes the whole thing so great. I get the sense that it makes you somewhat uncomfortable? Which is exactly the point. If you can find a Republican lawn as angry, artful, and hand-painted as Jeff’s, that would be fantastic. I would embrace it, uncomfortable though I may be.

  5. Jon Young says:

    Well put, HHP. A very punk rock way of putting it.

  6. I think that it should be possible for any objective and educated individual to look at only certain levels of meaning in an object and discard others. I am only asking you and anyone else to look at Mr. Nelson’s technical ability, which I found quite impressive. Thousands of innocent civilians, American soldiers and gas prices in both countries completely aside, I think that you and anyone else interested in lettering who has a difference of opinion with Mr. Nelson should be able to do that.

  7. Charles Rex says:

    Thanks for the link to the most excellent poster collection at whitehouse.org, Martin – I’d missed that.

  8. Shannon says:

    I guess the real question is, “Are designers completely separate and distinct from the world they live in?” Do designers have social responsibility? I think they do. So I am not really sure how one can separate the two when designers are working for both sides of any issue. I am new to the site but I wonder if there was the same kind of reaction to the thread about Kerry’s logo? I like to think, as Joshua suggests, that I could look at designs that are supportive of Bush and judge them on their design merits, even though I personally detest the man and his regime. The plain and simple fact is that on both sides of any issue, you are more than likely going to find designers working on promoting their views. Personally, I think that is a subject well worth discussing. Kudos, Joshua.

  9. John Butler says:

    What a lovely house! And now that I’ve found out giant four-story Victorian houses are So Punk Rock, I can finally switch sides. Power to the people! &c. I’ll take one in dark green, please.

  10. J. T. says:

    I was a fan of Minor Threat during my late-adolescent days. Looking back now, the music, and the cult that surrounded it, seem oppressively monotonous, rigid, and joyless. So it was a pleasant surprise to see a former member of the band now indulging in fanciful Victorian lettering and well-executed squirrel jokes. Thanks for sharing the link, Joshua, it brightened my mood for a while.

    But not long enough to stop me from composing a response to one of the previous commenters…

    The result of the elections will affect me directly, personally, materially, negatively (not to mention the unfathomable effect upon others around the world). If you feel like you can afford the luxury of staying above politics, then go start your own website. In the meantime, the rest of us need all the critical voices we can get, amplified. Many of these voices use letters aesthetically to get their point across, so it’s inevitable that our precious type discussion is going to get soiled by messy political discourse. Read it or don’t.

  11. T. Tolleson says:

    I must admit that I find these signs some of the best examples of the genre. Politcal signs (for yards, mostly) are often times so boring and so devoid of actual communication, that looking at them is best enjoyed from your car traveling at 40 mph. These, however, regardless of content, are just plain nice to look at and deserving of an actual read.

    I especially like the look of R2-C3. Not only is it beautiful visually, but the smaller type compels you to get up and read it (a driveby would be dangerous at best).

    Now, I don’t espouse my personal political views to anyone (or try not to, at least) so I won’t comment one way or the other on the purpose of these signs. But as some have already posted, these signs have typographic merit and are executed very well, indeed. What true typography nut wouldn’t want these as a part of a collection? In support or not, you all know you love old propaganda posters.

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