Illustrator and designer Josh Gosfield's most well-received political poster protested censorship and was used as the cover for Angry Graphics: Protest Posters of the Reagan/Bush Era. Now, the corona-Trump imperfect storm has inspired a spate of work that takes Gosfield back to more polemical times. About this new work, he told me:
It all began in the first dark days of the pandemic. A couple friends of mine were losing their minds. To calm them down, I drew two hands with the tagline “Handwashing not Hand Wringing!” and texted it to them. I posted the drawing on social media. People responded. So I made another image. Then another. It seemed that the art I was making was striking a chord. I’d taken a hiatus from art for several years to write books and articles and run workshops with my wife, but the pandemic was everywhere—out there in the world and inside your head—and ideas for images, cartoons and visual metaphors invaded my mind. We were living through mythological times—illness, death, lockdowns, economic collapse, George Floyd’s murder, mass protests and madness in the White House. And the news? It was toxic—rumors, politicians pontificating, propaganda, scandals, contradictions and outright lies.
That kind of hysteria is not what people need in troubled times. I got into the daily habit of tuning into a special frequency. It’s the "what-people-need-to-hear" frequency. Depending on what was going on in the world, sometimes it seemed that people needed the comfort of knowing they weren’t alone in their despair, other times they needed to lighten up and laugh at the absurdity of pandemical life and on some days to get mad, really mad.
Maybe the best role model for me is Mathew Brady, the American artistic hero and the father of photojournalism. Brady was a phenomenally successful NYC portrait photographer, but when the violence of the Civil War engulfed America, Brady packed up his photo studio and moved it out to the battlefields, taking thousands of photos of war, survival and death. "I had to go," explained Brady. "A spirit in my feet said 'Go,' and I went."