Tips for Libertarian Activists

Campaign Signs

Last updated 1996-07-15 by Lance Flores

(Editor's note: This post to the LPUS mailing list detailed the Libertarian Party of Dallas' experience with making campaign signs.)

First, about the required disclosure. Most states require, although unconstitutionally, the candidate's name, organization (e.g. Committee to Re-elect), treasurer (make sure title is included), address of the organization or treasurer, and occasionally the phone number. This is so you may be found by the code enforcement people. They must normally give you notice before removing your signs. (I have a Sec. 1983 suit withdrawn from when I was running for judge concerning all of this.)

Now here is how the sign making works:

  1. You will need a garage or warehoused space with plenty of area to dry your signs. Some good dry summer days, and some enthusiasm.

  2. Now draft the layout of your sign. Although this may seem easy, you can make big mistakes trying to put too much message on the sign. Keep it simple with enough open space to make it comfortable to read from a moving vehicle. (We've made all those mistakes already so you won't have to wait until next season to fix them.) We did one color (blue) last season. We are going to two colors on white background this year. We used a number of different graphics last season. One of the mistakes is to use graphics that are too detailed. This makes it difficult to print because the ink does not hold seperation well because of some capillary attraction created when the silk stretches as you squeegee the ink. The Libertarian lady liberty masthead is ideal and well suited for silk screens. You can get the .tif file from national for a few bucks. Well worth it.

  3. Why a graphic? We've experimented with many things in the past. The LP logo is very powerful, much more so than the stupid pachyderm and ass you usually see. It says much.

    Perception of numbers. One of the comments from last season from the Republican and Democratic judicial candidates and others, was what an aggressive race I ran specifically noting that my signs were everywhere. They weren't. It just seemed that way. We all used similar statute of liberty logos identifying the Libertarian Party. I put out 600, Steve May put out about 750, and others did similarly. Between all our candidates we put out about 3,000. It realy isn't much for an area like Dallas County which has about twenty cities and a population of about three million.

    What happens is this. Most Republicans and Democrats will not put the party logo or identification on their signs. In Dallas only the Libertarians did this. Some of the Republicans caught on to this last season and a few started doing the same. People identify you with the logo. When driving around the city they will see other libertarian signs. It takes at least three to four passes for someone to remember your name on a political sign. People will remember the logo. They will recognize the logo wherever they see it in the city or county. When candidates all use the same or similar mastheads all candidates will be perceived to be supported through out a vast area. It's called synergy.

  4. Your graphics should not be busy or crowded. Signs are to provide recognition and the perception of substantial support of the populace. You can't put the party platform on it! That's what the logo does. If you're going to use two colors then try to use one common backdrop like ours, then you will only need one mask and silk screen. We added a border of stars at the top and bottom. This centers the viewer's focus to the center of the sign where the message is and gives the sign balance. Remember, the viewer is moving and you have to focus his eyes immediately on the message.

  5. Now for the nuts and bolts. Lay out your graphics on a good graphics engine. I suggest Corel, Adobe, or somthing similar. You should try and use a vector type graphic format or a bitmap with high resolution which will convert to a vector format without too much distortion. You can save about half the negative cost if you can give the negative producer the graphic in the format he uses on his computer. If your supplier uses camera-ready art you will have to provide him a positive and he will shoot it twice to get another positive.

    If you use one color you will only need one screen which will print two images head to head. This will allow you to print both sides of the sign at one time. You should keep designs proportionate to the size of one half of the paper size. (14x 22") The paper is available in sheets 28x 22" when folded it makes the standard 14"x 22" sign.

  6. Here's the materials list:

    1. 22"x28" negative w/head to head image (leave space for fold and stake to pass through a hole at the top of sign); $48 shoot positive for a negative film, or $24 for a negative produced from .eps (encapulated post script) file in negative format
    2. 22"x28" silk screen with frame coated and processed (aprox 30"x34") $23-$40
    3. Coated paper 22"x28" ($0.52/sheet for 1-100, $0.45/sheet for up to 250, etc.)
    4. Ink - NAZ - DAR/Kc $27.35/qt. (1qt/candidate about 600-700 signs), $97.30 /gal
    5. Screen wash (clean screens & spreader) $19/gal (1gal/candiate)
    6. Retarder $10.98/qt (1/2 qt/candidate) $31.60/gal
    7. Dehazing fluid $25.75/gal (1qt/candidate)
    8. Squeeges are about $0.50/in. I'd get two per station. One 4" and one 12".

    Call your local screen supplier for the materials. This is the most current pricing in Dallas. Get a NAZ-DAR/KC color chart from your Naz-Dar/KC dealer. Nos 20(red) & 40(blue) work well but you can vary some.

  7. Once you've located a place to do your signs, you'll need a table that is not too wide. It should be about as wide as the screen frame, about 28". An old door on saw horses is just perfect. Make a couple. Affix two door hinges to the table and a silk screen frame with the screen mounted flush on two sides.

Look at all the billboards and signs on your way to work and back, and when you go out at night. You will quickly see what works and doesn't.