Chances are you will have seen work from Formes des Luttes without realising it. When viewing footage of the strikes and protests occurring weekly across France in the last year, the posters collated on this platform often feature heavily.
It is a website that currently holds 140 posters of protest from 100 different contributors, all of which can be downloaded and used in opposition to Emmanuel Macron’s attempts at social reform.
“After the first big demonstration against Macron’s pensions reform, Régis (Dugudus) wanted to print a sticker to support the movement. He proposed to other designers to add their own picture to mutualise the printing,” explains Sébastien Marchal, of Formes des Luttes. “There aren’t many graphic designers in Paris, and even in France, who work on social and political issues, so we know each other quite well. This time we extended the call to any designers, and after a first print of 16 stickers in December 2019, we kept on receiving graphic proposals, often from creators making their first political picture, showing the strong rejection of the government's politics.”
They decided soon after to make a platform to publish all of these ideas, and have kept a strong utilitarian aspect to the platform, not just because all of the materials on it can be downloaded for free. “It’s really diverse: students, non-professionals, collectives and even some well-known French designers,” says Sébastien. “We’ve chosen to limit it to three different images per contributor, making a selection from the propositions we receive.”
Despite being united behind a political goal, Sébastien and the team are also determined to improve the standing of graphic design in France, and encourage more input from the grassroots. “We have to convince our own side as it often hesitates between two options: to create posters and designs without professionals in small structures with few resources, or to call on advertising agencies that have more means,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Independent graphic designers are generally ignored because of a lack of knowledge and recognition of graphic design in France.” This desire to address the graphic design community, as well as politics, helped to inspire the name of the platform: “It’s why we called it Formes des luttes, which means ‘Forms for struggles,’ but that can be switched ‘Luttes des formes’ or ‘Struggles for forms’.“
With 100 different contributors, the styles present on the platform are as diverse as you’d expect. Many are typography-led, displaying messages in support of the strikes and against the government, whilst others are illustration-based, encompassing all aspects of the issues at hand.
The project’s success is judged against the number of people that use it, and the change it can potentially bring about. “Since the beginning of the movement we’ve been receiving more and more pictures of workers, protesters and students using our images,” he says. “That’s exactly what we want to achieve, creating images that can reach a large variety of people to make social and ecological justice more visible and understandable. Images and headlines are strong tools to spread a political view and to gather people.”
Another objective is to bring increased cohesiveness to the design community in France, in the hope that unions and movements commission independent designers for projects, instead of going in-house or through large advertising agencies. This move away from multinational design work is at the core of their principles: “A large part of graphic production that can be seen in public spaces is commercial, a production in which designers are not authors, and work with limited and uniform aesthetics,” he says. “We have to create forms that can fight these forms and the aesthetics and imagery of business and markets. We need shapes that can arouse reflection and not manipulate desires.”
Having united around a response to Macron’s pension reforms, the posters from the platform have also been applied to struggles in other sectors such as hospitals, public services, feminism and climate change. It ultimately shows that it is working, and provides a nice problem for Sébastien and the team: “We’re sure that we want to contribute to the numerous current and future fights,” he says. “Now that we’ve built a larger network of political image-makers, we just have to decide how!”
GalleryFormes des Luttes
About the Author
Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.