The story behind those lovely Shop Local posters

Designer April K tells us how her colourful prints in support of the high street suddenly took off

I designed the Shop Local poster in June of last year just as stores were reopening after the first lockdown. As a designer, I noticed the power social media was having, specifically during COVID and the Black Lives Matter protests, when visual communication became more essential than ever.

People were sharing posts about COVID symptoms to look out for, ways to be socially distant and stay sane, and showing solidarity via Instagram stories. It was beautiful to see the way people came together to support their community.

I wanted to design something to promote positivity while shining some light on the local shops that needed support. A week later the poster image was reposted by a popular meme account @scariest_bug_ever with 180k followers, who gave up her platform and changed to @diaryofangryblackwomen to amplify Black voices.

It was shared and liked 3,000 times. I’m no influencer, so that was an impressive amount to me! The next day Justin at New Cross-based risograph print shop reached out and asked if he could print my design for local shops, and the rest is history.

April K is a first generation Laotian American digital designer and photographer, living in Camden
The team at Gloucester Avenue's Melrose & Morgan with their poster

Originally I was giving them out to local shops, but people kept wanting to buy them for their homes, so we decided to dedicate our third batch for that and donate the proceeds to Hospitality Action. We’ve just started selling a week ago and have already raised £150.

I’ve managed to monopolise the Camden area since I live nearby, but I’ve gotten DM’s from as far as Suffolk – shout out to Hullabaloo Cafe in Ipswich! In the opposite direction, The Farm Stratford reached out from Warwickshire. I’ve given some extras ones to local shops when mailing them out, to help out other businesses nearby.

 I’ve mailed some to my friends to help out too, so there are a few in Guernsey, lots in south and east London as well as around here. It’s been great to see the impact it has on everyone, whether they saw a poster at a store or it was shared on social media.

Sometimes people are shocked by the kindness

It’s actually a little overwhelming sometimes because it was such an emotional year for everyone. Sometimes people are shocked by the kindness – that it’s for free and that I made this for them. It’s been great to meet so many people too, even just virtually. It’s a wholesome feeling to be connected to the community. 

Oh, and I’m not sure if I can specifically say where yet, but it is going to be featured in an ad in the near future, so keep an eye out for that…

Technically this is my second piece in terms of designing for social change. My first one was for CreativesAgainstCovid which was a call on creatives to design posters to raise money for womens aid, to support those that were in abusive homes, stuck in social isolation. I was trying to find my place in the design world and had always gravitated towards gig posters. Strangely, last year was the first time I did work for something bigger than myself and have gained confidence since then.

Black Lives Matter poster Camden
Shop Local alongside Black Lives Matter - Summer of 2020

I’ve changed the colours through the printing phases. Originally the starburst behind the fruit was blue and now it’s green, which was for the holidays but I’ve kept it since because it pops nicely with the fluorescent orange. 

Maybe in June of this year I can reach out to see if there’s a way to do a sign painting of it. A couple of local shops have asked if I could paint them on their window or wall and sadly I cannot do that, but I’d be really interested if any local sign artists would like to work with me, so do get in touch.

Download or Purchase a Poster
Shop Local poster art is free to download and print yourself, or you can support Hospitality Action with one of Pagemasters lovely risograph prints for the home
| Full info on April’s website |

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