Stierli de Abreu

The Modern Protest Graphic and Social Media
Protest Graphics have always been an integral part of social movements and as activism has evolved so have they. They have shifted in medium and have gone from posters to mostly digital graphics that live on social media which nowadays is often the first point of contact from which we get our information, express our opinions or find communities so it’s content is often indicative of the conversations being held at a global level.

I started my thesis journey by researshsching protest graphics throughout the decades and focused especially on the shift between print and digital. A couple of questions came up.

  • Where do we find protest art today?
  • What does protest art look like today?
  • How has technology and social media changed the way we look and make protest art?
  • Does protest art that belong to a movement share stylistic qualities?
  • What can those qualities tell us about a movement?

Images are not my own 
The feminist protest graphics currently dominating the conversation across social media platforms are all mostly similar in that they have taken complex feminist theories and boiled them down to short one liners in order to fit a certain aesthetic and appeal to a wider audience.

Although social media in its nature can’t effectively hold all the information needed for the viewer to fully understand complex feminist theory it can be the starting point for these complicated conversations about complex topics.

I want to find better way to communicate these complex theories and ideas online by creating experiments that directly address the issues and frustrations I have with graphics currently circulating on social media

Experiment 1

My  First experiment focused on trying to express my frustration with current feminist protest graphics by reimagening them in motion, creating interuption as a form of critique. I experiemnted with several different types of motion, sometimes adding and sometimes taking away fro the images.

I then decided against using motion as it was, in this case, distracting more than it was adding to the point I was trying to make. I kept the use of handrwitting as an expression of frustration and created a response in three parts. 

This format first presents an existing feminist protest graphique and expresses my frustration with it, then it brings forth a big chunk of text that is full of the information and nuance that the original graphic forgets and finally it redirects the viewer to the source of that information.

Experiment 2

My second experiement focused on how to make these complex topics and ideas shareable on social media without loosing all the nuance and complexity that is integral to their understanding. This led me to look at data-visualization for inspiration on how to visualize these non-quantifiable ideas.

Images are not my own

I focused particualry on the circle as a form of graph (pie charts and ven diagrams) in order to translate these concepts of intersectional feminism, their relationship to eachother, and their internal structures.

I then introduced more complex topics by expanding the complexity of the venn-digram and loosening the idea of what a circle had to be.


During this process I learned as much from my failures as I did from my successes so I thought it valuable to highlight them and why they failed.

This experiemnt failed to communicate my intent in adding to these existing graphics, they introduced sources behind the graphics but failed to highlight that this was done as a result of my frustration with the initial lack of information. Making this clear to the viewer is integral to their understanding of why this information matters and why they should care therefore without it the experiemnt failed to engage them.

This experiment used the format of memes,  which  is integral to internet culture to introduce complicated conversations about feminism. This was highly succesfull in communicating these ideas in an approchable way while retaining the complexity of the information but because understanding them required prior knowledge of both feminist theory and memes, it madem them only accesible to a very specific demographic.

This experiment presented study-guides, highlighting sources of feminist theory pertaining to specific categories,  however it failed to contextualize these sources and lead the conversation with information which was my initial intention.

This experiment presented information in different levels of complexity in an attempt to adapt to the viewer’s amount of previous knowledge and categorized this inofrmation through the use of comlex patterns and colors. This sacrificed both readability and legibilty for a complicated system that wasn’t appropriate for the fast paced intake of information on social media.