On Design for Liberation with Rahical

Rahical is a New York-based Bangladeshi/Rohingya graphic designer. Among her impressive works, this young designer has actively designed free protest posters and social media campaigns bringing awareness to the plight of Palestinians. From collaborations with Free Palestine Printing to social media campaigns like the Gaza Press Club, Rahical’s designs are poignant and ever so relevant as the global demand for ceasefire goes unheard yet again.

“My involvement in the cause started around my senior year of university while studying graphic design,” Rahical began. Elaborating on how she initially got involved with the Free Palestine movement, she continued, “I can’t remember the exact time when I learned about the genocide of Palestinians but I did learn about it a little later than others. After I reverted back to Islam during the COVID pandemic and started relearning the deen, I took it on as another responsibility of mine to learn what’s going on around the world to Muslims or to Muslim communities. That’s when I properly learned about Palestine and learned from Palestinians themselves after being exposed to even more diversity while in uni.”

In 2021, with the Israeli supreme court ruling in favor of the eviction of six Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, protests were held all over the world in protest of the ruling and the escalation of violence in enforcing it. One such protest was held in Orlando, Florida. It was at this time that Raahical first designed posters for the movement entitled “Free Palestine Save Palestine”. “I designed that poster after I graduated university because I remember a week after I graduated a close friend of mine who lives in the Orlando/Lake Nona area sent me information about a protest in Orlando and I designed out the posters, printed them and took us all to the protest,” she recalled. 

Rahical went on to elaborate her design approach for the poster. “Back then I was experimenting with my style when it came to design, I wanted to create a poster that broke the 'traditional' rules of design by using lots of typography, (more than what’s the preferred recommended) while pulling elements known with Palestine (such as the map since I remember one of the biggest incidents was with Palestine being removed off maps, and then seeing the photos by journalists of the 'open-air prisons' of innocent civilians being behind wired fences) I wanted to just make it super busy and crazy that would get someone walking by to stop and read what’s being said,” Rahical explained.


Two years later, hours after news broke on the October 7th attack, she decided to redesign the initial poster she created. “My approach [was] different in my sense of style when it came to design…I remember my style when it came to designing was all over the place and I was just starting to learn what I liked and didn’t like in terms of design,” she explained. “I knew I wanted it to be a street style poster, posters that you would see wheat pasted in urban areas since I was exposed to the design areas and styles here in New York after moving here almost two years ago, I still wanted crazy typography to still keep the feel that when someone sees it they have to stop, but also to come closer and read the ‘big picture’ so I made some text look like ‘fine print’ by scaling it down in comparison to big bold funky text, so people can slow down and read”

While the October 7th attack was quickly condemned by international mainstream media, it was also undeniably a desperate move by Palestinian resistance against an ongoing 75-year occupation. This also influenced Rahical’s design approach.”[It also created] this momentum for humanity [and] for the Ummah as well. So, I [used] some images taken from journalists that day and brought in the elements of olives which have significance to Palestinian cuisine and culture and stylized it in this grunge format to continue the essence of a street poster,” she explained.

Not stopping at self-initiated protest posters, Rahical also collaborated with Free Palestine Printing (FPP), an Melbourne-based traditional print initiative whose proceeds are entirely donated to Palestinian liberation. Rahical designed two posters for the collaboration; ‘Palestine Repeating’ and ‘Lego Dove’. “My collaboration [with FPP] came about from Instagram when someone who follows my design account sent me FPP’s Instagram story on needing posters to print out from designers, I ended up messaging them and within a few hours of them responding I went from sending in these posters I made, to collaborating on designing new posters, being added to the design team to design new content and to where I am today with them. Alhamdullilah.”

She explained that she wanted to create something that stands out and resonates with the ongoing situation in Palestine. “So I created this new motto with lately all my work for Palestine; ‘steal for good’ (since everything in Palestine has been stolen from Palestinians) where I would either take inspiration or mimic identically the layout, design, etc and redesign it explaining the ongoing situations or in solidarity with Palestine in the case of the ‘Lego Dove’ and ‘Palestine Repeating’ I wanted to take two well-known designers works (Alexander Khabbazi and Eric Schwarz) that have been going viral on social media and redo them in support of Palestine to show solidarity.” She also created a poster addressing and encouraging the boycotts in solidarity with Palestine liberation. On her approach, Rahical explained, “‘Get Zara Starbucked’ was a last-minute sprint poster that wanted something bold and loud so I played around with altering the colors of the red and green since they clashed with one another, and used big bold funky cool designed display text with some texture added to it.” Aside from the posters, Rahical also designed a set of social media posts for FPP; a parody of the annual Spotify Wrapped layout. In 2023, the Spotify Wrapped playlists were released on November 29; the day regarded as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Rahical is also involved with the Gaza Press Club, a social media initiative conceived by FPP. “GPC was my ‘secret side mission’ in a way,...some of the members of FPP asked if I could help them with an additional campaign they wanted to try and I agreed instantly, was pulled into work on the design aspects since they loved my design style, my role pretty much became the lead designer/creative director to help brand GPC to where it is you see today, and design out all the content that comes across your social media feed. My motto/mindset for this campaign in the design and visual identity was [that] I wanted to break the ‘it doesn't match my aesthetic’ belief and combine it with the “steal for good” motto that I have been doing so far lately,” She explained.

Part of the design approach for Gaza Press Club was aimed at spreading the word to a new audience. “I wanted GPC to send out these amazing, powerful beautiful messages in support and aid of these amazing journalists but visually look aesthetic, like a design agency Instagram feed, and the world we live in now everyone on social media wants everything to be aesthetic, it’s the way we organize our photo dumps, edit our photos and ask our friends will this look good on our feed, the way we edit TikTok videos and buy, share, repost because you were influenced by others, and since my profession and career revolves around social media designing, I wanted to push Palestine and what’s been going on in Gaza into the ‘aesthetic’ part of social media to give a reality check for humanity, and design out things by ‘stealing’ grid layouts, typography, etc from well-known design agencies and redesigning to spread our message. I want the audience, people who view my work, to get a reality check and to call some of them out. I make the designs and visuals that are popular in art and design with the trends so no one can use that excuse ever again.”

Rahical believes that creatives and designers who are sympathetic to Palestinian liberation should get involved, noting the significance of art and design in everyday life. She explained, “I am a Muslim before I became a designer so in my beliefs it's an obligation to help out my brothers and sisters suffering in this world to the best of my abilities and in the field of art and design it's very possible to help the world. Everything we know today is influenced by art & design, whether it be fashion in the realms of style, ads for the newest kick releases, propaganda posters in the next political election, to the inspiration for your next dinner meal because you liked how someone's art directed a TikTok video on how to make spaghetti.”

With more creatives getting involved, more people will be able to engage with Palestinian liberation. She states, “My style, design, and art direction have its limitations, not everyone who comes across my work finds it aesthetic[ally appealing] they might think something else or a different style is more appealing. So designers and creatives who are well-known in that style of work should be creating and designing and bringing awareness because you never know, it could be your poster, your postcard, stickers, illustration, etc. that influences someone to learn, change their mindset and most importantly to spread awareness and to call out the world of the ongoing genocide. My design work with Palestine and the ongoing situation in Palestine led to more work for other serious ongoing issues in Congo, Sudan, with the Rohingya or Uyghur Muslims, etc and I’m still learning more and more.”

Rahical is grateful for those who are doing all they can in solidarity with Palenstinian liberation. She would also like to send a word of appreciation to those who have shared her work. She elaborated, “To anyone spreading the work I designed, whether it's a repost on your story, or printing my posters for rallies or to hang up on your wall at home, I truly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. It brings me so much joy that I can help even with something like an Instagram post, and whenever I see that, it reminds me and pushes me to keep on doing more and more.” 

She also urges those fighting for Palestinian liberation to not lose hope, especially with Israel having recently been brought to trial at The Hague by South Africa for genocide and Indonesia, along with several other members, preparing to file a separate suit against Israel regarding their illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. She explained, “With what recently happened at the Hague and the evidence through social media they showcased, all I have to say is don’t stop spreading awareness, even if you have 10 followers all it takes is one share, post, or repost, to open someone's eyes to the reality of Palestine. All it takes is one explanation at a Palestine rally. All it takes is one little illustration you post in solidarity. Whatever it may be, you don’t have to be Muslim to share awareness, you don’t have to be Palestinian, you just have to be human. Humanity can only grow when we hold each other accountable, teach, learn, and help one another from a world of different cultures, and backgrounds with interlinking societies. Humanity can’t grow on the soil of massacred innocent civilians. Qadr has been decided and set in stone, but it won't lead to a negative outcome unless we as humans let our free will of choices and actions allow it to happen with lack of faith, humanity, and morality. Sincerity and intentions go a long way.”

About the Author

Kireina Masri

Kireina Masri has had her nose stuck in a book since she could remember. Majoring in Illustration, she now writes, in both English and Indonesian, of all things visual—pouring her love of the arts into the written word. She aspires to be her neighborhood's quirky cat lady in her later years.