Graphic designer Andrew Gallagher wasn't inspired to create Yes, We're Open Minded—his own brand of custom business signs—because he saw a feel-good, fluffy story. Instead he found a way to channel his energy into a cause he cared deeply about because he was inspired by the hatred of others.
"I was inspired when I heard about the Washington florist court case and then a pizza shop in Indiana where businesses were discriminating against gay couples," Gallagher says. "I became very passionate about doing something about it. I was joking around with a friend saying it'd be nice to know which stores were run by, well, bigots, so I didn't have to go in there. But I wanted it to be positive; to know which stores were welcoming."
Lemon constructed a custom "Yes, we're open" sign to instead read, "Yes, we're open minded." Thinking he might be onto something, he got the phrase trademarked, set up a Kickstarter page and immediately began contacting artists he admired from all over the country to see if they'd be interested in making their own custom business signs. He says he contacted more than 100 artists.
More often than not, inspiration breeds inspiration. "Once I started putting stuff on the Internet, artists started contacting me," Gallagher says. "Four of the pieces came from me just by opening my Instagram and seeing artists saying that they really liked what we were doing and asking if they could be a part of it. It was really exciting."
While many of the signs have been sold online, Gallagher says he's been going door-to-door to ask business owners in person if they'd like to buy one. Locally, the signs can be seen at places like the Daily Scoop ice cream shop in South Park and Dark Horse Coffee in Normal Heights. Gallagher says his ultimate goal is to partner with an organization or nonprofit with proceeds going to a charity.
Highlights from the series include Thailand-based artist Cragio Hopson's painting of a stacked head-within-a-head (think of a surrealist version of a wooden nesting toy). Portland artist Molly Mendoza created a custom party scene with people dancing, and Porous Walker sent Gallagher a custom crayon drawing of a uniformed soldier saluting a gay pride flag. As potentially controversial as that one might seem, Lemon says he knows Walker's heart was in the right place; that sign got a great response on Instagram. Gallagher says Walker also did an additional sign that didn't make the cut for obvious reasons.
"He also sent a drawing of a parakeet having sex with a goldfish," says Lemon, laughing. "I didn't use that one, but that's about as open-minded as it gets."