Since 2017, our annual 50/50 campaign has seen us invite 50 artists whose work spans design, illustration, music, fashion and visual art, to collectively explore one theme through the medium of T-shirts. This year our chosen theme is visibility, with each artist responding via a single design created through the lens of their own unique context. These designs will be available to purchase, retailing at £25 each, at everpress.com/5050 for four weeks after the launch, with 50% of profits going to the artist and 50% to Justice4Grenfell (J4G).
Visibility has its roots in 2018’s campaign, which saw us partner with Amnesty International to focus on censorship, raising over £30,000 for Amnesty and the artists involved. “Working last year with Amnesty was a real eye-opener,” says campaign curator Michael Wilkin. “Amnesty are pros in mobilising support around very real cases of social injustice that continue to impact people’s lives. You see the amount of work and the size of the team required to consistently make noise about uncomfortable issues for governments and policymakers.”
“We’re not the first to understand that T-shirts are the perfect platform for spreading a message, but having seen our 50/50 tees walking around the streets of London for years now, we’ve fallen in love with the idea that their message remains visible,” says Michael. “The 50/50 campaign and the T-shirts sold throughout it are a great way to keep social injustices on the radar for longer than the contemporary news cycle generally allows for.”
The decision to partner with J4G was inspired by Radical Boulevard’s design for our 2018 Censorship campaign. “Last year one artist created a beautiful statement tee commemorating those lost in the Grenfell disaster,” says Michael. “When planning the 2019 edition we thought – knowing what we now know about the potential for meaningful activism through apparel – this is something we should tackle.”
Visibility is turning up the volume and being heard. Loud and clear.
Artists who’ve contributed to this years 50/50 include fashion designer HANGER INC; publication gal-dem; record producer and artist Jai Paul; curatorial collective BBZ and the iconic illustrator Jean Julien.
Each artist offers their own take on visibility; Kesang Ball, for example – one of the trio behind up-and-coming travel media platform Trippin – was thinking of marginalised communities and inequality when she created her striking 50/50 design. “Visibility is having an inclusive lens on the world. Making sure all bodies from all walks of life, realities and experiences are seen the same. Our voices are constantly being drowned out, sometimes it feels like we’re just being muted. Visibility is turning up the volume and being heard. Loud and clear.”
Artists have historically been uniquely placed to bring visibility to important issues, as recent examples from around the globe continue to remind us.
“Visibility is important,” says Yvette, Moyra and Nour. “It reflects the aims of the J4G campaign; to keep the injustices relating to Grenfell in the public domain and to be a voice for those who have experienced trauma, grief and loss.” Launched in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, J4G is a community-led organisation set up to advocate for the bereaved families, survivors, evacuated residents and wider local community, and seek justice. Long-term, J4G’s ultimate aim is to ensure an event like Grenfell never happens again, through addressing inequality, housing, the privatisation of public services, local authority accountability, and cuts to emergency services.
Confront the culture of power with the power of culture
Creatives have played an essential role in helping J4G raise awareness in the two years since the horrific fire. “Confront the culture of power with the power of culture,” a line from the London rapper, poet and activist Lowkey, who released a song in tribute to the victims, has become a rallying cry for the campaign.
“Art can capture in different ways what social injustice means,” says Yvette, Moyra and Nour. “T-shirts enable the message to be carried around the globe and into communities across the country. Wearing a T-shirt is a way of visibly demonstrating solidarity and support for those individuals and communities who are fighting for justice, and challenging others to think on this too.”
“Yvette, Moyra and Nour are doing their best to keep up the fight; be it organising marches, community events or awareness campaigns, we saw that the money raised would be able to have a real impact,” says Michael.
Shop the collection of 50 tees now. Each purchase raises crucial funds for Justice4Grenfell as they seek justice and fight to ensure a tragedy like Grenfell never happens again.
Shop the full 50/50 2019 collection of T-shirts here.