Art for a Democratic Society

Oakland, California · 1248 Sales


Art for a Democratic Society

Oakland, California 1248 Sales On Etsy since 2008

5 out of 5 stars

Shop owner



a4ds is taking a short break


Note from shop owner A4DS is having a baby! We'll be checking in occasionally, and will be back in a few weeks.

Note from shop owner

Last updated on Oct 23, 2017

A4DS is having a baby! We'll be checking in occasionally, and will be back in a few weeks.


Contact shop owner



Average item review
5 out of 5 stars

flowrmouth on Nov 7, 2017

5 out of 5 stars

nigelp33 on Sep 13, 2017

5 out of 5 stars

Great little button of a powerful man - thx


nanaki19 on Aug 30, 2017

5 out of 5 stars

Nice button - great message with great image, too. Thank you!

View all 478 reviews


Combining the Political and the Art World


Art for a Democratic Society is an organization dedicated to promoting a culturally and politically dynamic, vibrant, and relevant art scene at the grassroots level. We believe that open and democratic debate, discussion, and critique are preconditions for progressive and inclusive movements in politics, art, and culture. We seek to engage artists and art audiences in public discussions concerning the state of, and relationship between, art, politics, and culture in contemporary society. We are open to all individuals and organizations or collectives who wish to add their voices and perspectives to this project.

We are not interested in art as commodity or investment. We want art and an art scene that is meaningful and speaks to the world around us. Artists are not separated from the rest of society. We see art, not as an individual expression existing in a vacuum, but as the work of individuals or collaborations connected to the world and engaged in a dialogue with society. It is our aim to bring this cultural dialogue to the surface so that our communities can discuss and debate questions in a public and conscious way. In doing so we hope to attract new audiences who, once engaged in the discussions about art, might feel empowered and have a sense of ownership of the scene.

Without dialogue, debate, and democracy, there can be no progress. We believe this to be true of social and political movements as well as art movements. In the first half of the 20th century, modern art movements debated aesthetics and the meaning and possibilities of art through manifestos. The political radicals of the 1960s had newspapers and forums to exchange ideas and critique and debate the direction of the “New Left.” The French New Wave had the “Cahiers du Cinema” and the SDS had “New Left Notes.” Art for a Democratic Society’s first projects, Street Salon and the Manifesto Exchange, are an attempt to create spaces where the Oakland art scene might begin to have these exchanges and develop its own character both openly and consciously.

A4DS was founded in 2007 by Celeste Christie and Steve Damewood, who are now a husband-and-wife team. Francois and Sean were roped into the group in 2011 to help with the Cries of SF project at Southern Exposure. Ethan also performed as part of that project and joined A4DS shortly thereafter. Laura is our newest member, starting in 2016.

Shop members

  • Celeste Christie

    Owner, Lead Organizer

    Celeste started A4DS with her husband Steve in 2007. She works for Root Division, Mark Poulin Jewelry, and The Crucible and also runs her own accessories line CC Star. She studied Theater at UCLA and Metal Arts at CCA.

  • Steve Damewood

    Owner, Co-Founder

    Steve started A4DS with Celeste in 2007. He is a local activist and works in customer service. He studied English and Creative Writing at UCLA. He is involved in the writing, drawing, and Graphic Design of most of the zines.

  • Francois Hughes


    Francois joined A4DS in 2011. He is also an activist in the same organization as Steve, working primarily on issues of police brutality in Oakland, and works as a builder and carpenter. He studied sculpture at CCA with Celeste.

  • Sean Morris


    Sean joined A4DS in 2011. He is a poet/rapper and works in a factory. He studied Theater at UCLA with Celeste. In A4DS, he often takes the lead in more performative aspects of our practice.

  • Laura Ross


    Laura joined A4DS in 2015. An activist, she also works in customer service and is an illustrator.

  • Ethan Rafal


    Ethan joined A4DS in 2011 and studied at Reed College with Jesse. An accomplished photographer, he recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to produce his book Shock and Awe.

Shop policies

More information

Last updated on Oct 5, 2017
Frequently asked questions

Custom and personalized orders

We make buttons and designs for left-wing causes at a special "political" rate. Please contact us if you are an organization and we'll discuss pricing and options.

Contact us for bulk pricing if you're interested in ordering more than 20 of any one (existing) item. We love doing orders for schools and organizations!

We do custom button designs, but have a strict limit of at least 50 of any single design to reflect time spent designing, and don't offer bulk rates on custom designs.

Gift wrapping and packaging

Due to the nature of our items, we don't generally gift wrap. If your purchase is a gift, let us know and we can include a note.

Our Philosophy

Our philosophy is to create art that is affordable for broke people like us. We use the small profit margins on our zines and buttons to subsidize projects and giveaways - we often give away zines or buttons in exchange for participation in one of our events.

We don't believe in copyright protection for the most part, so all of our work is fair use copyright, meaning if you want to use our text or images for anything that you're not going to then turn around and sell, by all means, go for it. We don't care if you scan a whole zine and put it on the web if that's your thing, as long as you're not making money off of it. But please if you do that, email us the link and credit our work!

CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Wholesale availability

While we have some select wholesale partnerships, we no longer offer consignment.