Apr 29, 2015

The Making of the Shirley Chisholm “Outrageous!” Poster

In 1972 New York City Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm ran an historic campaign for U.S. President. Supporters in San Francisco created a bold, memorable poster for Chisholm’s campaign that featured the slogan “Outrageous!” and is simply one of the most brilliant political graphics to ever come out of an American election. Artist Ed Wong-Ligda was one of the creators of this poster and shares his memories of its design.

How was this poster created?
Ed Wong-Ligda: A Sunset magazine editor, a radical playwright and I created all printed materials for the campaign. Some of it was simply reproducing literature from the national office and some of it was created by us especially for San Francisco. We liked the irony of using the term, “Outrageous!” which was a popular way of saying, “wonderful,” in the hippie/alternative/black community. It of course also meant, “terrible,” to the mainstream community. So we purposely created a poster that reinforced both views.

The posters were thought up and designed at the San Francisco campaign headquarters, but were silkscreened by hand in my father’s garage in Palo Alto. The size was about 24” x 30”, printed on paper cut from a roll of cheap paper. As a pure guess I made somewhere between 50 and 150.

How did you get involved with the Chisholm campaign?
Ed Wong-Ligda: We loved Shirley Chisholm and everything she believed in—and what a speaker she was! I became interested in working for the Chisholm campaign after seeing her speak at the San Francisco Airport. She was incredibly dynamic and powerful, and made me want to help with the campaign. My boss at an educational publishing company, where I was a designer and illustrator, was creating materials for the campaign, but very early on was unable to continue. She asked me if I would be interested in working for the campaign and I jumped at the chance.

What are you doing now?
Ed Wong-Ligda: I am a professor of art at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, but retiring in two months. Professionally, I am a painter and muralist. I continue to work for organizations that I care about. I’m on the Advisory Board for the Western Michigan chapter of the ACLU, and I’m on the Board of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum.

The Shirley Chisholm Project
Ed Wong-Ligda website