Yard Art Gets Political

Have you ever wondered about the artists behind the elections signs that pop up on lawns this time of year? As a publication that views nearly everything through art’s lens, we sure did. And guess what? We found one!

Ryan Noonan is the graphic designer behind the lawn signs of three Rhode Island primary campaigns — David Matheson, who’s running for Warren school committee; Bethany Foster (D), who’s running for Bristol town council; and Nicky Piper, who’s also running for Warren school committee — and we sat down to talk with him about what goes into this special type of yard art.

Emily Olson (Motif): Would you ever make a campaign sign for someone whose politics differed from yours?


Ryan Noonan: I wouldn’t do a sign for someone who I had vast differences with. I’m left leaning and Dave and Nicky and Bethany are as well; however, if I had a friend who was right leaning, I would do a sign for them. Friendship — and I hate to use this word — does trump everything. If someone is a good person and operating on a local level, many of these divisive issues won’t come up. Like, abortion rights won’t come up on a school committee or town council. But if a stranger approached me and their views were far from mine, then no, I would not. 

EO: What was the design process like?

RN: Bethany in Bristol had some specific colors she liked and she wanted a compass on her sign. Bristol’s on the harbor, a compass shows direction and guidance. I created the design from that. For Dave, I had an idea that it would be a cool to have a checkmark with a D. I love modernism and modern logos. I love initial logos. I think it’s a great way to spot the brand or the individuals.

EO: What’s your day job?

RN: I work for a board game manufacturer and mostly do graphics for board games, card games, the packaging — all the components when you buy a game off the shelf. On the side, if it doesn’t interfere with work, I do logos for other businesses.

Logo design is my passion. If I can do one simple logo, that’s the most challenging thing to do, and I’m proudest of those. And if I’m being completely honest, I would love to be known as the campaign guy. That would be really fun.

Follow Ryan Noon and his work on Instagram @niceguyry