Dr Zizmor


Welcome to WOW – a new section on Forth Position. WOW covers a lot of ground, from excited exclamatory response to brilliant art & design straight through to teeth clenched whispered wow work that leaves you questioning wtf? Involuntary response is what we are looking for here. Enjoy your stay.

To inaugurate the section, recent versions of the classic Dr Zizmor New York City Subway ad. Below the ads as they appear on Dr. Zizmor’s website is a high resolution recreation of it as it appeared on the subway (yes, someone loved it that much). The ad is a fantastic cornucopia of “how to design” tips and tricks. Among the many highlights: 

• Soft dissolve from night skyline to “day” (gray) rainbow!
• Rainbow color sequence reordered to create a delightful red to green transition!
• Supersized (photoshop) stroke on the headline!
• Heavy drop shadows in both black AND white!
• A drop shadow OVER a solid color stroke surround! HOT DAMN!
• Dancing credit cards, customer clip art, checked boxes, plus a signed statement from Dr. Z himself!
• Stars.
And now Dr. Z even has his own scannable QR code!

Can’t get enough? Here it is in motion:

I first saw these posters while I was a student at Pratt Institute. Dr. Z had an enormous impact on all us aspiring designers! I welcome your comments below. Until next time – TG


Awareness from the Forth Position Archive

10,000 New Yorkers marched to Times Square on October 7th 2001, united in common conviction that the United States Government should not exploit the September 11th attacks as an excuse for war.

New York Times photo by Michelle V. Agins
New York Newsday photo
March end rally at Times Square – photo by Diane Greene Lent

Forth, in conjunction with the coalition's Arts & Culture Working Group, produced 200 signs for this demonstration. Half of these read NEW YORK NOT IN OUR NAME / OUR GRIEF IS NOT A CRY FOR WAR, but it was the ISLAM, ARABS & IMMIGRANTS ARE NOT THE ENEMY sign that received the most press.

Front ( small type: unity through empathy )
Back ( small type: unity through empathy )
Front ( peace is powerful )
Back ( kick the bomb habit )
Front ( speak your mind )
Back ( war is never having to tell the truth )
Front ( non-violence or non-existence )
Back ( justice, not vengeance )
December 16 - Hoy photo by Rafael Fernandez*

December 16 – Rockefeller Center march – banner design by Kinkos®

Over the following year Forth designed additional signs to supplement the initial five, flyers, buttons, t-shirts, a banner, and other materials for multiple marches, rallies and forums around the interrelated issues of the war on terror, illegal detentions, immigrant solidarity, civil liberties, and budget cuts. The NYCPJ symbol is a realignment of the negative spaces within the common peace symbol, the triangular shapes assembled by multiple hands working together. The symbol was designed as a representation of the concept of coalition and a reflection on rebuilding peace in the aftermath of 9/11.

Modular Flyer Front
Flyer Back
Bus Sign Up
Bus Ticket

April 20, 2002 – Washington DC march – banner design by Forth
April 20, 2002 – Washington DC
Justice for Detainees solidarity rally – Brooklyn
New York Taxi Workers Alliance march - Midwood, Brooklyn

Neighborhood Conference Placard
Neighborhood Conference

*A dark line is visible around the tube (bottom) of the featured MAKE HISTORY NOT WAR sign. This was Forth founder Thomas Gallagher’s personal sign, marked this way to make it easy to spot inverted among the others in bags for transport. Occupied with logistics at the rally site, he did not get to march, so his sign marched without him...


Awareness from the Forth Position Archive

Stand Up New York was a loose knit coalition established to organize around the first anniversary of 9/11. Two events were the focus of this organizing: a march / rally - Stand Up, and an all night vigil - Stand Still. The two events were seen as complimentary, offering people a range of ways to express their feelings. The march / rally invited those who wanted to be vocal to stand up prior to the actual anniversary, recognizing that media fervor on the actual date would likely drown out any dissent about the war. The vigil offered those wanting to reflect with like minded others on the anniversary an opportunity to stand still. Standing still as in stillness or silence and still in terms of time, as in continuing to stand. The stand up / stand still concept was also an intentional re-framing of the often used / abused phrase united we stand. 

Flyer Front
Flyer Back
Sticker 1
Sticker 2
Sign Front
Sign Back

Central to the Stand Up mobilization were solidarity actions around a host of related peace & justice issues. To this effect, later versions of the flyer contained a full calendar of 12 unique events. A lead banner and five solidarity banners were designed to increase visibility of these issues, and mobilized at numerous actions over the next several months including the march / rally in Washington DC on October 26th, 2002.

March (Solidarity) Banners – 6-10' x 2'

Stand Up March - photo by Adam Rountree
Uptown Youth for Peace & Justice March
Uptown Youth for Peace & Justice March
Protest at (in) Senator Clinton's Office
Not in Our Name Rally – Central Park
Stand Up March - photo by Adam Rountree

Shirt Front
Shirt Back

Stand Up March
Cover of Friedens Forum - Challenge Terrorism?

All black and white photos by Fred Askew