This graphic was widespread among anti-war and countercultural movements of the 1970s. While it’s not clear who executed the original design, the concept may have come from advertising photographer Bill Stettner, whose friend Peter Adams wrote to us as at Letterform Archive:
I have always understood the poster to be his idea […] Bill was full of political ideas and was definitely involved with badges and buttons at the time. I think the design was also intended for a button.
The hand-cut letters of “We won’t stand…” are based on Cooper Black, a typeface frequently seen in both commerce and counterculture. Lowercase text disrupts the traditionally even height of the flag’s stripes, while the ragged right edge adds a tattered effect. The repeating lettershapes on an uneven baseline, and flipped w in “won’t”, indicate that the source of the letters was transfer type or photographic reproduction, rather that hand lettering.
The U.S. flag has long provided artists a canvas for protest. Its simple, graphic iconography serves as a foil for the nation’s more complicated past and present. This piece is among several stars-and-stripes reinterpretations that appear in Strikethrough: Typographic Messages of Protest, a Letterform Archive exhibition opening July 23, 2022.