LAUIL603 THEATRE POSTER DESIGN BRIEF FOR CLIENT
I was commissioned by a client to design a poster which would advertise his one-man show. The brief outline was very specific and I had a clear idea of what the client wanted from the start. The deadline for the poster was Friday 20th April. Overview of brief sent by client: ‘The performance is an exploration of controversial homosexual histories and explores two figures – Joe Orton, a playwright from the 60’s who lived a really promiscuous secret life when homosexuality was still illegal – his presence in mainstream culture and his diaries stood as proof that the illegal status of homosexuality needed challenging and so was a huge part of that – the problem is that he was kind of racist and sexist and slept with underage boys too – he was also killed by his partner right at the height of his career by multiple blows of a hammer to his head (I recreate this in the performance by smashing a watermelon with a hammer) – and Gaetan Dugas who was scapegoated for spreading aids around the gay community in America in the 80’s – in life he was at the centre of an emerging cultural shift with stonewall etc and represents a pre-aids homosexual man who was really beginning to find some progress with liberation. However after aids there were multiple books published and it became common knowledge that he was the reason for aids spreading – they called him patient zero! Now it was only in 2016 where they were actually able to clear his name and prove that aids was in America more than 20 years before he was (he was a Canadian flight attendant) the role he had in the medical trials was vital in learning that it was sexually transmitted and therefore possibly saved many lives however from his grave he was plastered all over books and news- he therefore is a matyr for the gay community and helped highlight the wrong doing of politicising this disease. However he did sleep with over 400 people a year and even when doctors suggested it could be sexually transmitted he refused to stop sleeping around (although this was when he most likely believed that the disease was a political way of getting rid of the gays/ stopping them from having sex) Basically the performance is about highlighting the good and bad things about both men and liberating them from both negative political portrayals and glorifying flattering portrayals that ignore their flaws. I tell it through jazz, music and poetry.
**Design a poster (standard A3 size) intended for the advertisement of a one-man show, reflecting the content and tone of the performance.
**SLIDE I SENT TO CLIENT SHOWING INITIAL RESEARCH
After our chat I researched theatre posters and found a few that I took some inspiration from (the compositions/ textures) I also looked at Peach illustrations and I like the colours used in the botanical posters. I went back through our conversation and did a bit of research and kind of just highlighted the themes/ tangible things which I thought were most important to include/ explore: • • • • • • • • •
Peaches/Summer fruits Hallucinogenic “Strange Fruit” Juxtaposition of outside of Peach to what is on the inside (Blood coming out of peach??) A Sticky Season LGBT/ reference to rainbow flag?? Juice of peach drippng down arm Eating the peach/ bite out of peach Highlighting good and bad in both figures
NOTES FROM CLIENT: Fruit as a theme throughout, especially peaches (think call me by your name) and there is a moment where I squeeze a peach and let the juice drip down my arm on my face (perhaps this is a good image for you to work with?) I’m thinking just a simple peach, possibly incorporating the gay pride flag in the peaches colouring? And maybe a fist closing around it, maybe the juice is blood?)
Client expressed interest in my collage work and so I opted for that style to design the poster. I was given opportunity to play around with metaphors but I thought that the hand closing around the peach was visually strong and that’s where I started my composition.
FURTHER NOTES FROM CLIENT: Also it’s called ‘A Sticky Season’ so we’re thinking hot summer fruit. In the piece I eat the fruits and have hallucinations and that’s where I come face to face with Joe Orton and Gaetan Dugas. So this hallucinogenic, refreshing, gay, plump peach with a sour punch at the core? Also reference to a song called strange fruit- not so important but the phrase might be helpful. Maybe the metaphor is a really lovely bright, colourful juicy peach with a rotting, bloody heart at the core?
Initially I used a stock photo of a hand picking a peach from its branch and applied an traditional etching style over the top. I couldn’t make that particular angle of the hand work as an illustration so I drew the hand again in a more open grasp. I bought a brush back online called ‘grave-etcher’ which allows me to mimic traditional engraving style lines without having to painstakingly draw each one out on Photoshop. The issue was that I wasn’t used to using Adobe Illustrator as a program so I loaned the illustrator workbook out from the library and improved my understanding of how the system works. It allowed me to play around with the grave-etcher brush set and in the bottom corner you can see the different it allowed me to make to my original Photoshop drawing.
I searched for stock free images of a peach which I could use for the design and settled for the one on the left. I changed the hand again as when I placed the peach in the previous hand that I had drawn it didnâ€™t look as though it was being firmly grasped. I began to build the image up cropping stock free botanical engravings found from books and downloaded from the internet. At this stage I was happy with the direction of the poster and the composition started to make sense. I cut out a section of the peach to mimic a bite mark and I superimposed a section of an old anatomical illustration to represent the rotten insides of the fruit juxtaposing with the colourful, juicy outside. I wanted to incorporate the pride flag colours somehow to reference the LGBT themes of the play, but was unsure at this stage how that could be achieved.
GRADIENT MAPPING EXPERIMENTATION
**SLIDE I SENT TO CLENT SHOWING DEVELOPMENT I can also change the colours of the linework through gradient mapping which might make it more dynamic but I’m probs going to keep black linework and then use blocks of colour/ colour the image like the botanical illustration on first slide?? (I wasn’t sure if I should reference the two figures somehow??) I made it look as though a bite had been taken out of the peach and inside I collaged a section of a heart illustration to give that contrast that you wanted You’re wanting colour right?? I assume so if you wanted rainbow flag incorporated in colouring. I’m working on getting all the linework and stuff down first before I add colour. But this is how far I am now with the design.
I was planning on gradient mapping the blood/juice?? This essentially means applying these colours to the blood/juice which is black at the moment. The colours kind of work on two planes as a reference to rainbow flag and it’s also kind of hallucinogenic??
Text is going to go here, not sure what you want apart from ‘A Sticky Season’?? Going to experiment with different fonts but probably going to do something similar to OLEANNA type from first slide poster.
** Still got quite a bit to do but pretty much know how it’s going to take form now!! Please let me know your opinions/ if you want me to add/ change anything??
COMPOSITION AND TYPEFACES: The client noted that there was to be no text information displayed on the poster other than the title of the performance. I re-visited my poster research to get some type inspiration and initially I was influenced by the ‘Oleanna’ poster and wanted to find a typeface which was similar. I found a couple which are what you seen in the middle image which were reminiscent of the Oleanna type but there was a huge clash between the image and text. I haven’t had much experience with type in the past so I don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to choosing the appropriate font, but I opted for something more traditional and decided to go with ‘Cormorant Garamond’ which I found on google.
It was at this stage of the project too that I decided to experiment with incorporating the colours of the pride flag into the poster. Initially I wanted to gradient map the blood coming out of the peach to reference the psychedelic elements of the play, but it looked kind of strange and didn’t mesh well with the rest of the design. I tried to apply the gradient mapping to the type and background after this (which you can see here in the second and third image) but I wasn’t happy with how that was turning out either.
At this stage I was really anxious at the design process with not much time left until the deadline. I wasnâ€™t happy with my progress and there was also the added pressure of the design being for someone else. I really wanted to do a good job so normally if this were a personal brief I would have taken some time out but I went back to the gradient mapping which I had experimented with earlier in the project and I printed two designs out on the laser printers to see which was working the best.
I decided that the yellow and red design worked better than the rainbow coloured one. It meant that I would have to leave out the pride flag reference but I think it works on communicating the hot summer fruits and psychedelic concepts better than the rainbow design. Also a lot more striking to the eye!!
Looking at the design I realised that it was waaaay too busy and so I took out some of the background leaves/peaches and I also altered the position of the arm so show a clear distinction between foreground and background and also to account for the juice which would be dripping down. I started to feel a lot happier with my design at this stage and was relieved that it was coming together. It made a lot more sense visually at this stage, I think Iâ€™ve mentioned this previously but Iâ€™m definitely becoming used to minimalist spot illustrations becoming my thing. I think that Iâ€™m clearly running with the developments I made in my practice for COP3 and pushing it more. I used the grave etcher brush set on illustrator to add some more lines to mimic the rest of the design, I think I sent an update to the client at this stage who was really pleased with how the project was developing.
I sent the design over the client and there were some last minute tweaks which he wanted me to play around with before I sent the final design. His notes were as follows: •
Is there anything you can do to distinguish the leaves from the other fruit in the background to add a little more depth?
Perhaps maybe accentuate the veiny-ness inside the peach a bit more? Possibly will come with the blood but maybe as a colour thing?
Also the earlier version with a box outline was a nice touch so maybe experiment with adding an outline to the design?
What if the title was a bit bigger and across the bottom of the frame?
Maybe the forearm could use some more lines to add definition?
(I appreciated the notes at this stage as I would have probably finalised the design by now if I were working on this autonomously. It was nice to have someone objective to the work to advise on what needed tweaking and changing.)
FINAL POSTER DESIGN
(I wish I’d had a little more time to finesse the image, I think the bite mark out of the peach could use a little bit more work and I also think that the forearm is a little under-developed. I also wish I’d had more time to experiment with type!)
I was pretty happy with the outcome I designed for this brief. I was anxious at first taking on a brief from a client as it wasn’t something which I had experience with but the whole process was surprisingly positive! I think it helped that the client was a fan of my work in the first place, had a clear vision of what they wanted and that I enjoyed the brief that was set and what I was making. I think I prefer the poster on the left but the client chose the one on the right to go ahead with. It was strange that the decision was out of my hands at that stage but that’s just how it goes. I used brush textures to paint the red border and then I used the select tool to keep the border the same width all the way around. The client was thrilled with the end product which was a huge relief. I’m not sure if I mentioned this earlier but I was anxious about working on a brief for a client as I’m very independent when it comes to my practice so I wasn’t really sure how this would pan out. I guess this goes to show that it’s all dependent on the brief and the client and I should be more confident to make work for others!