A brief History of the Star pig by NMG

In the summer of 2001 I created the star pig from an old drawing I did in ’97 for a poster titled “Need a Job?” This was one the first pieces of propaganda I made. As with a lot of my early work, it was about how cops are dirty pigs and cannot be trusted. The reasons why I started making propaganda are various. I was being confronted in art school regarding the reasons why I was there. I have always identified myself as a graffiti artist and my art as graffiti. The teachers correctly challenged me on the reasons why I was in art school. Simply put, you don’t learn graffiti in a class room or in art school (thank god). I started to look at what the school could do that the streets couldn’t. After a few years of dicking around (drunk off my ass), I started working on the computer and then did screen printing. I still felt very strongly that if I couldn’t put a piece of art out on street, it was not worth making the piece of art.

Another reason for making propaganda is that my family has been involved in social movements off and on my entire life. At the time I started to draw the pig, my mother was working quite closely with the October 22nd Coalition To Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. After reading a quote by Emory Douglas (Minister of Culture of the Black Panthers), “We have to begin to draw pictures that will make people go out and kill pigs” I started to make art (propaganda) that could be used in that way and the last pig I designed was the star pig series.

From 1998 on, I made stickers and other art to hand out at October 22 rallies and Mumia rallies as well. I personally had more of a connection with O22. Every year up till 2001, the National Day of Protest was held in San Francisco. I always noticed the side door of the SFPD cars which displayed a seven-point star badge. It finally dawned on me if I imposed a pig face within the borders of a seven-point star badge it would look super cool. On July 5th, 2001 I did just that and it does look super cool.

The original star pig design had SFPD on top of the pig face like the design which was on the police car door. Soon after I made some and cut them, I learned we were going to move the National Day of Protest to Oakland. (Fuck, I had just cut like 600 stickers!) I thought the whole idea was dead in the water until one day, while driving to work in Santa Rosa, a cop car drove up next to me. I saw a seven-point star badge on its door. After that, I looked into and found out that most all the pigs in the Greater Bay Area and a lot of other parts of California and the West use the seven-point star badge. So I removed the SFPD part of the design and started to make thousands of them.

In November of 2001 I sat in a bar and told my best friend Mark that I was going on a three-year campaign of promoting the star pig by putting them up anywhere and everywhere I could and that the campaign would be open to the public. I thought I would make the star pig as easy to get as I could by making 10,000 stickers a year, putting a downloadable file on the web, mailing hundreds and thousands of stickers out to other parts of the state, and handing out thousands of stickers and posters. The campaign is now in its 4th year. I have no plans to stop it until police are not a problem anymore, which I hope is in my lifetime because my hand is getting tried (I still hand cut them all).

I’ve made other changes to the original design. I made it more symmetrical and made various alternative designs (black star pig, 3 different “Oink, stay in line,” the computer clean and the stencil). I have started to make special regional designs as well for NYC and LA because the pigs out there don’t wear seven-point star badges. But the content remains the same.

The message of the star pig is supposed to be how cops are dirty and shouldn’t be trusted. Not because you were drinking down by the river one day and the cops showed up and took your beer. But because cops will pull people over cause they live in or are visiting a certain neighborhood or they stop a person because they have a darker skin color or the person is outspoken about how the system of capitalism is fucked up and no reform is possible. These are better reasons why one should fight to stop police and their brutal tactics. Police murder and rape while they say they are protecting. And it is not a case of a few bad apples; the whole system is rotten to the core. The most brutal cops are the ones who stay on the job the longest and are the ones promoted to highest ranks of authority and training. The star pig is supposed to be a way of saying FUCK THE POLICE without saying it.

I feel sometimes that star pig loses its meaning on the streets because most graffiti is apolitical. So I would like to set something straight: it’s not a band logo; it’s not a logo for anything; Shepard Fairey (obey/giant) didn’t make it. The star pig is here for the public to use to create a popular distrust (resistance) to the police and the system (capitalism) that holds police up as heroes.

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