Posters, Fliers, Banners, and Slaps. Oh My!
This article is about the different kinds of agitprop materials that you can put up and the ways to put them up. I’ll also go over some of the risks and benefits of putting them up. The main materials available to you are posters, fliers, banners, and slaps.
Let’s start small: Slaps are small palm-sized stickers that self-adhere to a surface when applied. You can quite literally slap them onto a surface as you walk past. They’re the smallest, second cheapest to buy, and least risky to apply.
Slaps are small, which means they’re unlikely to be seen by as many individual people as the others on this list. But their size is of benefit to your visibility.
You can buy slaps in bulk for relatively cheap, which is key: you can put a lot of slaps in a lot of places without being seen. But that same benefit is also a real drawback to slaps: basically, your only option is to buy them.
You can make your own slaps, but it requires a fairly steep upfront cost for the materials and the vinyl cutting machine.
Since I arbitrarily decided we’re proceeding from smallest to largest, next up are fliers. Fliers are substantially bigger than slaps. Fliers are at minimum the size of a standard sheet of printer paper, 8.5″x11″. Naturally, that makes fliers the easiest to manufacture yourself. They’re also the cheapest to buy whether in bulk or individually.
This is a flier.
And so is this.
The trade off is that fliers are generally more inconvenient to place than slaps– if you want to guarantee they’ll be seen. You can hang fliers in a number of ways. The gold standard is wheatpasting but that’s not the only method. Fliers can be taped up, stapled, pinned– you can even leave a stack somewhere with a small sign that says, “take one.” Hell, just hand them out by store exits.
Because hanging fliers is more involved than throwing up a slap, it’s also riskier. Keep in mind that time is danger. Hanging fliers isn’t usually illegal, but it’s often not something cops will just ignore. Why? Because cops have a real soft spot for leftists, of course!
Now we’re onto posters. Posters are essentially big fliers. For our purposes, I’ve arbitrarily decided that a poster is at least the size of four sheets of paper: 17″x22″.
Posters are highly visible basically anywhere you put them. But if you don’t pay extra to have them printed professionally, they can be pretty inconvenient to hang. Otherwise, your first option is to hang four fliers. Because of their size, you can’t hang posters anywhere the way slaps and fliers can be. It almost goes without saying that you can’t hand them out.
Posters require a fairly large area, such as a wall or junction box. Because of their size and the fact that they’re being hung on hard surfaces, you can’t hang posters with staples or pins. That realistically leaves you with tapes and wheatpaste. And you may as well wheatpaste, because posters aren’t dirt cheap and quick to hang. You can’t just put a bunch up with less-reliable methods and call it a day.
It’s riskier to put up posters because they’re big, they take time to get up, and they’re visible. Be just a little bit extra cautious while hanging them so you don’t get pinched.
Banners are huge! They’re at least 36 inches in one of their dimensions. Until you get to ridiculous sizes, there’s no reason to hang a banner instead of a couple of posters or a bunch of fliers.
So is this.
And this one is a rad banner design. It would be fucking awesome if one of you readers hung it over an overpass.
Banners that are worth hanging are so big that you can only really hang them on an overpass. There, your banner is high visibility at all times. So if you’re hanging a banner, be super extra cautious. (That last part can be largely disregarded if you have legal and convenient access to the roof of a low-rise building!)
Important Considerations for Hanging Banners
You can best hang banners using rope or zip ties. Banners that you hang well (and aren’t taken down by anyone) can last for years. Most large banners are printed on tyvek, which is the same material used to make most tarps. Just like tarps, banners usually have metal eyelets at the corners which you feed rope through.
Tie one end of the rope to the eyelets and the other to the hard structure you’re hanging the banner on. Alternatively, you can loop the rope through the eyelets and tie both ends of the looped rope to something. This will generally give a more secure connection.
It’s also essential that you secure all four corners. Otherwise, you’re creating a safety hazard. With an overpass, that means tying all four corners either to the fencing or to a hard point on top, and to the structure underneath.
Typically the structure below is difficult to access. In these cases, you probably shouldn’t use an overpass without a fence unless there are four accessible hard points to tie your banner.
Because of their size, banners are fairly expensive. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $400. Banners are all around a pain in the ass, but if you can pull it off they’re the best option. Easily thousands of people will see them in a single day.
The Fundamentals of Agitprop
I’m not a graphic designer. I’ve designed some slaps and fliers before when a good idea struck me, though.
The main things to keep in mind are the K.I.S.S method, and “bold is your friend.” K.I.S.S stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” You don’t want a design to be too busy; if it’s too busy, people won’t notice the message.
The other important thing is bold lines. Use thick bold linework whenever possible. Try to keep it to two simple colors. You want a background image of some sort, and then you want a bold headline in a strongly contrasting color to make it readily visible against the background and eye-catching.
I’ve already used it, but this is a good example of what I mean:
It pops out at you, it’s eye-catching, and the message is clear.
Designing and Printing Agitprop
There’s a lot of software out there for making your own designs. My go-to is Photopea. It’s 100% free to use and it runs in your browser window. You can make designs on the library computer and email them to yourself. You can even use it on your phone with Android. (I can’t speak for iPhones.)
Now on to resources for manufacturing. For fliers, you can either print those at home or your local library. Most libraries don’t charge much per page– usually something like 10 or 25 cents. You can also get them done on different kinds of paper at a print shop. Kinkos, OfficeMax… pretty much anywhere you’d go to get photos developed and printed.
If you do a four-part poster, you can make them the same way as fliers. Equally valid is asking for a larger size at a print shop. They’ll be happy to do it, though it’ll cost more.
Where to Find Agitprop
You can acquire slaps for very cheap. You basically just have to shop around online. Etsy is a good resource. Redbubble is even better than Etsy. I can’t really point people towards specific resources, unfortunately. The people selling slaps that you’d want to put up are usually just individuals who have spent the upfront capital on materials and a vinyl cutter.
Banners are the same as slaps. There’s not really any specific resources, you kind of just have to shop around on sites like Etsy and Redbubble.