Radicalizing Design with Graphic Designer & Activist Eiselle Ty
Words by: Kevin Madrigal
If you don’t know Eiselle, you definitely are familiar with her work. She's the creative mastermind who designed the cover for Courage Over Comfort, the Protect Our Elders pre-roll, and all of Potli Shrimp Chips packaging and swag. She is a proud Filipina American designer, and has an eye towards radicalizing design.
What was the inspiration for shrimp chips?
Asian packaging is *chefs kiss*. It is nothing like the design trends out there. Current design trends are so sterile. Like minimalism? I just don’t get it. I’ve never been a minimalist person.
When thinking about shrimp chips, I wanted to give people a microdose of joy. I remember as a kid going to grocery stores with my parents and being attracted to the shiniest, most colorful thing on the shelf. Those things just make me happy. And that’s what I wanted to channel in designing Potli Shrimp Chip packaging.
"Life is too short to be serious all the time. This was really an opportunity to bring a millisecond of happiness to someone’s day."
Can you speak on your vision for our Protect Our Elders and the Courage over Comfort visuals from the cover of the zine to all the swag?
My roommate Claire’s tattoo artist in Oakland (@hyesutattoo) is the most badass bitch in the world. The tattoo world is really similar to the design world, there’s barely any women of color. Claire got a badass tiger tattoo from her. To be honest, the direct inspiration came from her tattoo. I was also thinking about the association of tigers with Yellow Peril.
What does the tiger stand for?
It’s actually funny, cause when I think tiger I think of a Tiger rice cooker from my childhood.
Tigers are just fucking strong animals. They’ll rip off your neck if you fuck with them. I have a tiger tattoo, Claire has a tiger tattoo. I love that woman. She’s very unapologetic & ruthless, she will protect anything or anyone that she loves. I think that’s where the etymology of “tiger mom” comes from, if you fuck with these cubs, you’re gonna get fucked up.
So, the tiger symbolizes Claire to me. She’s one of those people who I absolutely admire & adore. She has helped me become a better human being.
I love your collection of activism resources on your gram. Where did the initial spark come from?
I was an old roommate’s first brown friend. I have so many opinions about that. As the BLM movement was gaining traction, I started to do my own research and build up an arsenal of information. I remember Blackout Tuesday, and thinking “All my references are gone” as my feed became a sea of black and, about a week into that I was just posting more and more.
I was infuriated at the entire design industry because a majority of them do nothing more than a “statement of solidarity.” Talented designers weren’t doing anything actually impactful. Zero people in the design industry were.
"Maybe it was the designer in me? I wanted to do it."
Everyone has their own pace, their own journey. I was trying to think about “step one” people, because we all have to start somewhere. I wanted to speak politics without it being intimidating or condescending, I don’t want to be a gatekeeper or to tell people what to believe. That’s all built up to what it is now.
Anything you want to express or get off your chest?
Be accountable/responsible for what you put on social media.
I’ve blocked folks because they’ve sent me death threats, and friends would tell me not to listen to negative comments, but I thought “How can I get better if i don’t take criticism?” The weird thing about social media is that people forget oftentimes there’s just one person behind an account. The way I interact with people, I remind myself: This is just a person. They have a lot going on right now.
To this day, people are messaging me telling me what to do or what to post. People forget what it means to be human. You have to be responsible for your actions, for what you say, for how you carry yourself.
✷ COURAGE OVER COMFORT GIVEAWAY ✷