The contents of this article are for information and educational purposes only. Patriot Propaganda does not officially recommend using any of the tactics, techniques or procedures presented. 

“When brainstorming, encourage wild and crazy ideas. Nonsense often leads to ideas that make perfect sense.” SAM HARRISON


IN ARTS AND ACTIVISM, the product gets all the glory. In the art world, an artist’s talent is judged by what he or she has created: the painting that hangs on the wall of a museum or is sold in a gallery, or the dramatic performance staged in a theatre and watched by an audience. 


In the activist world, it is the demonstration or rally that one organizes that attracts people, gets media coverage, and influences politics. The same applies when the two worlds are merged in art activism. What was foregrounded in the examples we showcased in the case studies article? The products that art activists produced. 




A fixation on the product is not unique to arts and activism, it is at the core of capitalism. Capitalism is based upon things: producing things and consuming things. What’s overlooked when we focus on things is an understanding and appreciation of how things are made and who makes them; that is, the process of creation. Too much emphasis on things — what we’ll discuss later as a sort of “tactical myopia” — can lead to an art activist practice that is only interested in replicating successful pieces: employing “best practices,” in a cookie-cutter fashion, anyplace and at any time. This isn’t very creative. 




Creativity isn’t a product, it’s a process. It’s a process that helps us to notice new objects and events, make new connections, and see the world in different ways. It’s a process that helps us think of, sketch, experiment, and build innovative things. A process that helps us act in a different manner and imagine new horizons within which to act. Most importantly, creativity is a process that all of us can use to become art activists. 





Time: 1-2 hours


There are times when you’ll need more space in which to brainstorm, jot down ideas, sketch, or cut and paste things. You also need a place where you can put all those ideas that pop into your head that don’t necessarily fit into any category. These ideas might be really brilliant or really stupid. Your sketchbook is for unfiltered ideas: musings that might cause someone else to question your creativity, intelligence, or seriousness. Or ideas that arise from questions you have, and go on to stimulate other questions. Crazy wild ideas. 


This is why you need a Sketchbook of Crazy Wild Ideas.


Get a special book of your own. The pages can be lined, graphed, or blank — whatever you like. Make sure it has plenty of pages, pockets to collect loose papers, and that it’s big enough to sketch in but small enough to carry around with you. You’re going to need to be able to use this at a moment’s notice — you can’t plan when crazy wild ideas strike.


On the inside front cover of the sketchbook, include your contact details in case you lose it. Maybe offer a reward of money. And if you feel embarrassed at the thought of a stranger finding your crazy wild ideas, write a disclaimer in the first few pages. It could go something like this:


I am going to fill this book with all kinds of ideas, many of them are not going to be good, but the point is to fill it. So if you find this and you are thinking, “these notes are ridiculous,” well, I already know that. That was the plan.



Fill one page of your sketchbook. Use words, sketches, doodles, images, or technical drawings . . . These can be plans for a piece or your thoughts about penguins — you decide. 


If the almighty sketchbook is too old hat for you, you can absolutely use a preferred device: a laptop, tablet, digital sketchpad, or even just your smart phone. Or you could use a combination of both analog and digital methods. The point is, you need to start experimenting, and over time, you’ll find what works best for you. As with everything in art activism, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. 


Remember, this is just for you. If you can’t draw, don’t worry: stick figures are fine, as are cut-and-paste illustrations. If you can’t write, don’t worry: there’s no one reading it. This sketchbook is the foundation of your creative process. Trust yourself.




The creative process is something each artist develops and masters over the course of many years, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We would, however, like to share some shortcuts that we’ve learned through our experience, and a lot of trial and error. Of course, while these lessons worked for us, they may not work for everyone. Take what you can from them, all the while experimenting with other ways of developing your own creative process. 


This article was adapted from Duncombe, Stephen, and Steve Lambert. The Art of Activism: Your All-Purpose Guide to Making the Impossible Possible. OR Books, 2021.


Other References:

  1. Sharp, Gene. From Dictatorship to Democracy. Serpent’s Tail, 2022.
  2. Beer, Michael, et al. Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century. International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2021.
  3. Popović, Srđa, and Hardy Merriman. CANVAS Core Curriculum: A Guide to Effective Nonviolent Struggle: Students Book. Serbia, CANVAS, 2007.
  4. Marovic, Ivan. The Path of Most Resistance: A Step-By-Step Guide to Planning Nonviolent Campaigns, 2nd Edition. International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2021.
  5. Sholette, Gregory. The Art of Activism and the Activism of Art. New York, United States, Macmillan Publishers, 2022.
  6. Clark, Howard; Garate. Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns. Revised edition, War resisters’ International, 2022.
  7. Thompson, Nato. Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the Twenty-first Century. Melville House, 2015. 
  8. Gavin, Francesca, and Alain Bieber. The Art of Protest: Political Art and Activism. Gestalten, 2022.
  9. Miller, Matthew, and Srđa Popović. Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World. Random House, 2015.
  10. Alinsky, Saul. Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals. Vintage; Reissue edition, 1989.
  11. Bernays, Edward. Propaganda. Ig Publishing, 2004.
  12. Abbott, Daniel. The Handbook of 5GW: A Fifth Generation of War? Amsterdam, Netherlands, Adfo Books, 2021.

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