Stirred by the U.S. Senate’s failure to pass an expansion on background checks last month, a group of three web designers with the Brooklyn firm Guts & Glory expressed their frustration by creating a website that has turned into a viral campaign over the past two weeks.
The website, TheyDontWorkForYou.org, pairs all 46 senators who voted against the amendment with victims of gun violence. It encourages readers to call the senators, tweet at them, or post messages on their Facebook pages.
After launching on April 22, the campaign has spread through different advocacy organizations, such as Moms Demand Action. It has also earned the firm congratulations from organizations like the Michael Bloomberg-backed Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
“We had the realization that if you can tap into something inside yourself that is true and real, you will inevitably connect with other people,” said Faun Chapin, who created the campaign along with collaborators Meg Paradise and Marc Phu.
It started when Chapin and Paradise were driving back to Brooklyn from their design studio in the Catskills two weekends ago. They got an email from a friend — a grandmother in her mid-60s — who was incensed about the Senate’s failure to pass the measure.
“She used the f-word,” Chapin said. “She said, ‘I want to get these f—ers.’ It was jarring, because it was coming from someone who’s so prim and proper.”
She urged them to make buttons with something like the words “child killer” plastered across each senator’s face.
From their friend’s email, however, they were inspired to create their first-ever political statement. Chapin said that Guts & Glory is a branding company focused on building up new brands. They usually work with startups in a range of topics, from bridal jewelry to men’s body care.
The end result of their first political project is jarring.
Here is the group’s juxtaposition of Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) — who has faced backlash in her home state this week — and Daniel Barden, a victim of December’s elementary-school massacre in Newtown:
Paradise said that she has seen people go all the way through the site to tweet at every single senator. By last Tuesday, it had 20,000 views virally, and a representative from MoveOn.org sent her an email saying that their entire listserv was talking about it.
“I think what we accidentally tapped into was the hellish week we had as a country,” she said, referencing the aftermath of the failed gun bill and the Boston Marathon bombings. “We all had this collective frustration, and we sort of handed a megaphone to that frustration.”
Chapin said that the firm has been in contact with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and others about possible future collaborations. For now, though, the three designers are working on a second political project of their own, which Chapin said will target the NRA.
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