C’mon Aussie: a poster campaign to make marriage equality pozible 

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Published:  September 22, 2015
Eloise Mahoney

Adelaide artist Jake Holmes has teamed up with Peter Drew, creator of the Real Australians Say Welcome poster campaign, to produce C’mon Aussie C’mon. But this isn’t a crowd-funding campaign to support beer, bogans and cricket.

Holmes has taken a tongue-in-cheek approach and the iconic rainbow flag to reproduce a national jingle that supports the ongoing same-sex marriage debate in Australia. Could this be the extra push Australia needs to make it possible?
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Drew and Holmes are both passionate about creating social change and awareness around issues which Australians often shy away from. The Real Australians Say Welcome campaign challenged views around asylum seekers and refugees and was a viral success. It embraced multiculturalism and made us proud to say welcome.

Inspired by the US legalising same-sex marriage in June and frustrated that Australia is yet to make this possible Holmes began designing and printing the C’mon Aussie C’mon posters. “I guess specifically why I wanted to do something around that is because my Mum’s gay. She came out of the closet when I was 13 and it’s something that is close to home. It effects people that I love and care about so I wanted to make some sort of response for that reason.” Holmes started sticking these posters up around his hometown and caught the attention of fellow poster boy Drew who works from the same studio in Adelaide. One thing led to another and the creative duo decided to set up C’mon Aussie C’mon as a national campaign and distribute them all across Australia.

Drew and Holmes recently took a break from hand-printing hundreds of posters to chat with desktop about their campaigns, collaborations and hopes for Australia to catch up with the rest of the world. C’mon Aussie C’mon…

C'mon Aussie Poster Project

Tell us a little about your background and education which led you to designing street art and printing posters?
PD: As an undergrad I majored in psychology and philosophy. After practicing as an artist for a few years I completed a masters in research at the Glasgow School of Art (2013). I started designing street art because I liked communicating with the general public.

JH: I’m a screen-printer. I studied visual arts and majored in printmaking. It’s something I really enjoy, you can print big volumes of something really quickly, but it’s still handmade. Screen-printing also has a history of being used in political campaigns.

The Real Australians Say Welcome posters encourage people to rethink their views around the topic of asylum seekers. What sparked the idea to start a crowd-funding project that has travelled all across the nation?
PD:
Living overseas forced me to think about what it meant to be Australian and decide what I liked about this country and how I’d like to see it improve. I’m proud of our multiculturalism and our welcoming nature. I see those features as strengths that are gradually eroded by fear-based politics

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Printing, distributing and sticking up each posters is a massive effort! Was deciding where to place each poster in each city a random or well-mapped process?
PD:
I’ve had many local guides around the country who were kind enough to show me around their city. Typically, they would drive and I would have my head out the window looking for spots to put poster. I try to find ugly walls with plenty of foot traffic so the poster will be see by many as an improvement.

Is it true each poster is printed by hand and why is this process so important to you?
PD:
Yes. I printed them by hand because it’s the only way to make posters look great. I really love brown craft paper so it had to be done by hand. I love the look and feel of it which is important if you’re going to be working with a particular material for months at a time. Also, with a project like this, I need to feel confident that I’m creating an image that’s at least pleasing to the eye.

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What inspired you to start up the C’mon Aussie C’mon project?
JH: So the initial idea for the poster came about after the US legalised same-sex marriage nation-wide. That was a big country doing it and I wanted to make some sort of response that Australia is lagging behind on that issue. I thought of a way to do it that was pretty Australia-centric by using C’mon Aussie C’mon and sort of twisting the nationalistic phrase and turning it into something that was supporting the marriage equality debate.

Is this similar to the Real Australians Say Welcome campaign?
JH: Yes, it’s sort of piggy-backing off the back of that successful campaign, but we are doing it a little differently this time as opposed to us going around the country. We are actually sending them out to organisations, businesses and the LGBTI community because I think big social changes require a lot of public support and this is a way the public can show their support.

Do you think this project has changed or influenced the way Australians are thinking about same-sex marriage?
JH:
The response has been reasonably positive and a little bit of negative. I think that is always the case for anything where you’re working with something that divides people. It’s been pretty positive but I don’t think a poster is going to be ‘the thing’ that changes it. Anything that is a social change needs lots of avenues and people showing support. And you know I’m an artist, so this is my way of adding to that and hopefully it allows people who are on the fence to engage with the issue.

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Talk us through the design process and how you created the beautiful rainbow prints (and t-shirts).
JH:
Normally you can just print one colour, but for these posters you actually put multiple colours down at once, so they blend together and you get that nice rainbow. I just thought if you took the phrase C’mon Aussie C’mon and did it as a rainbow that would be a really nice and relatively subtle way to get people thinking.

How many more posters do you need to print?
JH: We have made all of the ones for the Pozible campaign. We had about 80 orders just through that. So far we have printed about 200 and the goal is to print 1,000 and deliver them all around Australia. Also the Art Gallery of South Australia just took one for the collection, which is really cool.

Congrats! So you still have about 800 more to print?
Yep, we can print about 50 in a day and sort of doing a day a week till we have done them all. We have already been contacting a bunch of organisations and have had really great reception. Once Pozible is sorted, we are just going to get in contact with more people and keep sending out more posters.

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Support the Pozible campaign here. Funds raised go to printing and postage of the posters and t-shirts. All excess funds will be donated to AustralianMarriageEquality.org.

Peter also produces videos. Check out his web-series Art vs Reality.
Jake runs Tooth and Nail studio. Check out his print-making work on Instagram.

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