Signs for doing nothing

For Beyond Breaking Point artist Paul Shortt has created a series of seven printable signs that aim to encourage rest, avoidance and doing nothing.

Over the past five years, Paul has been exploring the language of street signs focusing on texts that he creates and develops from observations. This investigation has led to print and sign based public artworks that explore topics such as time, authority, public space and adulthood. With the majority of these works existing as multiples, he hopes that ideas of questioning authority and the status quo can spread to different audiences; creating agency, multiple meanings and disruptions that ripple out into daily life.

In Signs for Doing Nothing, Paul uses phrases such as: “Gently and Carefully Rest” and “Avoid it all” to question our relationship to work and productivity. The black and white signs have been designed to be printed and coloured in, offering a personalised poster, or reminder, that celebrates having breaks and shutting out external pressures.



Download Signs

The posters are available to download as PDFs here, with both UK and US versions for standard home printing. If you don’t have access to a printer, head down to your local library, or have a go at digital colouring.


Square section of black and white outline poster with text reading: Mend your time.UK  /  US

Square section of black and white outline poster with multiple coffee pots and cup and saucer, and text reading: Routinely do nothing

UK  /  US

Square section of black and white outline poster with evenly spaced turtles and text reading: Gently and Carefully rest

UK /  US

Square section of black and white outline poster, with melting clock faces and text reading: embrace inertia

UK /  US






Square section of black and white outline poster with bicycles and skateboards, and text reading: Avoid it

UK /  US

Square section of black and white outline poster with clusters of hexagon balloons and text reading: Ignore the pressure.

UK /  US

Square section of black and white outline poster with figure next to bin and litter picking, and text reading: Turn off to avoid exhaustion

UK /  US





This collection subverts typical motivational poster focus on sayings about reach goals and continuously succeeding. Instead, Paul offers prompts to alleviate pressure and prioritise slowness.

Just as in his installations, print and public works, this digital, printable collection aims to reimagine and start arguments about what signs are, and the environment and actions they seek to control.

If you want to share the results with us we would love to see them. Tag our accounts on social media, use the hashtag #signs4nothing, or email them to us here.

We will be sharing elements from this exhibition, and the rest of our programme across our digital platforms, so follow us on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out.

Webpage best viewed on desktops.



Portrait of caucasian artist Paul Shortt, in dark burgundy shirt, looking up to the right in front of grass.Paul Shortt is an artist based in Gainesville, Florida. He received his MFA in New Media Art from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his BFA in Painting from the Kansas City Art Institute; and has participated in over 80 group and solo exhibitions in the U.S and internationally.

His videos have been shown at the Museum of the Moving Image, The Phillips Collection and Whitespace Gallery; and he has participated in residencies at The Luminary, in St. Louis, MO and at Montgomery College in Silver Springs, MD.

He has participated in over 40 Art Book and Zine fairs including Printed Matter Art Book Fair’s in New York City, NY and Los Angeles, CA in addition to art book fairs in Vienna, Austria, Toronto, Canada, and Baltimore, MD. His artist books are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, and Yale University; and available via his online shop.