Page 1

How musical culture being portrayed in poster design, looking through festivals and their posters and comparing and contrasting the signs they show within each poster.




INTRO Chapter 1:

Music culture Chapter 2:

poster design Chapter 3:

Success of festivals Chapter 4:

Questionnaire Chapter 5:

Comparing and contrasting festivals and there poster

Conclusion Bibliography 3



f we take a look at festivals, specially music festivals, and what can they mean to an audience, through an analysis of signs and symbols we will be able to discuss what brings focus to how they reach out to music lovers on a worldwide spectrum, through their intuitive poster designs and advertisements, investigating what type of festivals there are out there and where the festivals are and slowly finding out which festivals are most popular, throughout Europe that is. One shall start with a bit of background research on festivals that are small, seeing what makes them popular in there own right but not going as far as 4analysing the poster designs and

expanding it and using the same out look, but with a contrast with the bigger festivals, the ones which one can’t help but focus on. One will be briefly looking into how festivals seem to have connecting themes of drink and drug use and how music plays a big influence, not only on connecting festivals and drugs together, but advertising a place were they are at easy access for anyone, including minors. When researching the festival posters we will be focusing on the information it gives you for example bands, area, dates, age restriction, how to get there. Briefly, looking at the hierarchy, asking why they’re at the start of the list. Does the information connect with the culture of the festival, aiming it at one type of audience, restricting the age so it’s more of an older type of festival? When investigating where the festival is from, is there any

connection to the design does it show any similarities with the country’s colour or image like the countries flag, and culture entities? Examining the poster’s and seeing if there are any major sponsors, that may be locally sponsored or if there more of major company leadership, helping them out, which also can be considered a big factor into the festivals appearance. And also why do you think the company are sponsoring the festival, is it perhaps to

being taken from people. Would you even say a festival is more of a leisure able event/activity? For one to gather information on two subjects festivals and their poster designs, asking questions specific to the topic, and seeing if both give the same information when connected together, and hopefully revealing definitive answers to these set questions on the this topic. While researching four of the main festivals in and

from what the poster art is trying to portray. Through a study of the culture of music festivals, we will see how they are represented though their poster designs and artwork, and of course looking into the true meaning and reason behind the actual festival itself. We will be able to look if there’s a big influence with the interaction of its people and music lovers. The most important thing which will brings our investigation

also to give the (company) more business across different media. If we are able analyse why there is a big demand for festivals in the recent years, looking through the relationship between festivals and tourism is it because of more leisure time

around Europe, discussing what they are about and how looking at the semiotic signs within them and arguing why they are so different, but with an aim for the similar sort of atmosphere and experience, almost like the people’s experience is driven out

together will be how the poster designs actually brings the audience into the ‘experience’, also delving into how the type of music is being portrayed within the advertisement, and the stereotypes of a certain genre.


Chapter 1: Music culture


ost people often think festivals are something people go to in order to have fun, but there are also other things behind it that make it fun, such as the reason why that festival is there and what type of music is played there. Looking specifically at the music festivals, which are mainly held outdoors, with thousands of people attending and camping in a large area for 2-3 days. At these festivals there are a lot of entertainment acts involved, which feature numerous musical performers and bands of a certain genre. The majority of the time these festivals are based around a theme. Looking at the festivals and what the most popular sorts of genre there is out there in Europe, there are three that stand out the most within music festivals. These include rock, Dance and Pop (ular) music culture


Rock culture

Rock culture came from a lot of evolving types of music from rock n roll, rock music separates a lot into different subcultures through the eras from heavy metal, punk rock, Indie rock and many more, all having the electric guitar as a bass to the music.

Dance music

Dance music has a wide range of sub culture within the culture itself. The main types associated with dance culture are Trance, New wave, House (UK Garage), Dub step, Drum and Bass and many more. All these types of music have a lot in common; they are mostly played by DJs with a mixture of sounds they have mixed on there own computer. This genre is associated a lot with dancing and moving to the beat.

Pop (ular) culture

in festivals

Pop music is the well known abbreviated word used for popular music; this genre is mostly aimed at people and what they think, which is a crucial role of popular music,” For pop list, however, the importance of attaching itself to popular culture goes beyond the fact that popular culture is “well liked by many people” De Cleen, Carpentier, 2009

You can see that these festivals are different but all have a common ground to Looking at the best festivals in Europe they all seem to have a long background of culture and heritage. Through the years festivals have become a big part of there country and how they advertise the way they bring in tourism. If you think of it festivals are really a leisure activity where people go to have a good time and relax. When looking at when festivals take place they are mainly set in the summer. The festival season in Europe is between the months of May and August, however the majority of festivals take place in July, as this is the season when students and schools are out for there holidays. Most people pick festivals for the genres they associate themselves 7 with, for example if you were a rock band you would go to a rock festival because that’s where you would

Continued... expect the audience to be. Usually, the pop culture festivals, which take place, tend to have the same line as they are targeting the same audience. Pop culture festivals are usually the most popular and attract the largest crowds. You can see in festivals there are a lot of similarities in them and in the research you can see it has a high amount of factors that make festivals popular. One of the main factors in festivals are the usage of drugs and how there is a big association between drugs and musical preference. The statement below explains the association of drugs with music festivals and also with particular genres of music:

“Dance/rave/house genres have been associated with increased frequency of use of ecstasy, speed, tobacco, alcohol, solvents, cannabis, inhalants, amyl nitrite, cocaine, LSD, benzodiazepines, ketamine, ‘rave drugs’, ‘hard drugs and poly drug use. ‘Seattle grunge’ has been associated with cannabis and amphetamine use, rap music has been associated wit crack use, metal has been associated with alcohol, tabacoo and cannabis and both rap and metal have been associated with use of any illicit drug. Pop music has been shown to have a negative association with alcohol and cannabis use. “ (LIM, M, HELLARD, M, HOCKING, J, SPELMAN, T, & AITKEN, This statement shows that illicit drugs are the main drugs associated a lot with music festivals only because they are an easy place to experience new things with the younger generation. As a large number of people are selling and giving


out drugs at these festivals it makes drugs easy access for everyone. You can actually see that music and drugs are associated with each other a lot and can even be shown a lot in poster design.


Chapter 2: poster design


oster design is mainly a large piece of printed illustration or typography that advertises information for products or events that are happening around the area. As posters are found everywhere they have a huge impact on people’s opinions and can change the decisions people chose to make. When a poster is designed there is always a reason behind its design and there is always a target audience in mind.

In the introduction of Effective poster design

“Your poster should be an eyecatcher, containing a brief message, understood at a glance. To achieve this “three second hit.” Osterer, I 2011,


They can see if a poster design is successful when they have thought of the layout, colour, text size, style and type, paragraph formatting, visuals, space. The main points which need to be considered in the production of a good poster include:

Clarity message immediately clear to the reader, people normally remember 7 items on a poster, the things have to be easy to remember

Relevance everything on the poster should be relevant to the subject of the poster look if there is something else on the poster that can change the subject of the poster

Concision it is every word on the poster understood and necessary on a poster and the information is minimal on it that still shows it how limited as possible.

Appeal if it doesn’t appeal to you it wont appeal to anyone it should be as appealing as possible attracting attention to the right target audience but also not distract them from the message it is sending. Usually a poster is best when simple.

Readability if you can’t read a poster it wouldn’t really be doing its job, if you cant read it from 1-2 metres, it may need to be changed to a bigger font.”


Continued... Posters have so many factors to them and there is so much that can bee seen within posters if you look carefully into them. I will be looking at these factors through each poster, seeing if it does have all points and the design and if it is missing something in it that makes it not as successful.

In the posters there are more in-depth signs within them and you can call this

“the study of signs and symbols” which is semiotics,

“Semiotics involves the study not only of what we refer to as ‘sign’ in everyday speech, but also of anything which ‘stands for ’something else. In a semiotics sense, signs take the form of words, images, sound, gestures and objects.“ chandler,2007,2


In the Saussurean model of the theoretical approach to semiotics he looks at the s ignifier and the signified, the signifier is the word on the page, the facial expression image used and the signified is the concept. For both to work together they must have certain features:

“A sign must have both a signifier and a signified. You cannot have a totally meaningless signifier or a completely formless signified and photography sections.”

Chandler, Daniel. 2007

Putting the signifier and the signified together they make up the

Connotation: Are the cultural meanings of signs; or “signifying signs,” signs that are used as signifiers for a secondary meaning.

Myths: A combination of 2 different signs that make up an oft-told story with elaborate cultural associations, e.g., the cowboy myth, the romance myth.

Denotation: The most basic or literal meaning of a sign, e.g., the word “rose” signifies a particular kind of flower.

Indexical Signs: Signs where the signifier is caused by the signified for example you can use plastic and plastic bag.

Iconic signs: signs where the signifier match the signified like if there was a picture that resembled the word.

Symbolic signs: signs where the relation between signifier and signified is purely predictable and culturally precise.

Sign: Which is the smallest unit of meaning. Something that can be used as a communicate .


Continued... So looking at a music festival poster [figure1] as an example of semiotics:

Here is the Woodstock music and art fair festival.


“Doves and turtledoves were the only birds that could be offered in sacrifice, as they were clean according to the Mosaic law, The dove was the harbinger of peace to Noah. It is often mentioned as the emblem of purity. It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, also of tender and devoted” In this poster you can see that the main signifier is the words

“3 days of peace and music” and the signified is the picture of the dove. You can see that the symbolic sign within this poster is purely predictable, showing the iconic picture resembling the word peace. Peace meaning stating the mutual harmony between people and group is the denotation. The dove means that it is a specific type of bird The Connotation of both these words are similar as the word peace represents the dove signifying innocence. Giving the myth that doves have always represented the word peace in many years even used in the bible where



Success of festivals

Chapter 3:


n each festival there is often themes within them each year and it shows within the poster design and the event itself. Giving it a message or sign within the festival not only through the music but also to spread ideas of social, political, or religious nature to their audience. But then there is a question, do people really recognise the themes within the festival. Here you can see the example of the Pink pop festival in the year 2008 had the theme of devil angel [figure 2] and in the year 2009 they had the theme queen pop [figure 3]. Looking at how successful festivals are and what makes the successful poster for it, a successful festival normally has the better line up but recently most festivals have the same line up depending on the type of festival it is, but what makes those festivals even better. The factors are mainly looked into festivals are Ticket price, Travel costs, Theme and Line

“A phenomenon in which people from outside festival locale visit during the festival period�

Quinn, B 2006

up quality. When analysing the dates of the festivals they all start from May to September, all prime times for summer holidays. This is normally why people say that festivals are a leisured event for tourism, in the journal they say

These more aiming that festival are a tourist attraction, in my point of view, I agree that it is, its something that attracts a lot of people to the place and not in a small amount of way but a large amount. This is why there is a relationship existing between the growths of festivals because there is a big tourist demand. With a tourist demanding this also helps the cities or places they are at giving them a clear city branding. For cities that started off with traditional events now they have used that as a tourist attraction for example like festivals in the England Glastonbury, it started as a small festival in 1970 with only the cost of £1 with also free milk having only 1,500 attending the festival, but recently for the 40th anniversary in 2010 135,000 people attended. One knows that festivals are big but recently they are getting bigger here we can see that festivals is a tourist attraction

“Nowadays most countries, regions and cities have a musical festival such as a jazz festival, a rock festival or a classical festival. Festivals are considered as one if the fasted growing types of tourism attraction” Leenders, MM 2010,

When thinking of a successful festival there also the factor of the atmosphere you wouldn’t want a dull festival that isn’t cheerful, happy, active or relaxed, you want all them fun factors and that’s that these festivals portray.


Chapter 4: questionnaire


wo questionnaires were given out online asking questions about Posters and festivals. The first questionnaire was mainly about posters, logo and fonts, these questions are mainly associated with what the second chapter was on about, how is a poster successful and seeing what the people really think of them. Analysing the questions one noticed Â


that image is a big factor in festival posters as one asked if imagery is a big factor and 75.9% of the people said yes and you can see that the importance of imagery in posters also asked in a list of items asked, what would be the first thing that catches your eye in posters what came second was image. But what also had a big factor in posters were Colour with 75.9% of people saying that colour was the biggest

factor in a poster, asking the question what kind of colours are you mainly attracted to a lot of people said bold bright colours that are striking and memorable which connects with a lot of chapter 2 which talks about how posters have to have clarity, they also said that black or dark colours giving it a contrast. I also asked what people looked in posters, seeing if the hierarchy made in poster design worked, people voted

in order of most seen first in the poster was title, information, date and time. You can see here that hierarchy does work because these are the information that would have been shown in different type sizes making people look at the main focus of the poster. The most interesting of the research was of the how little people new of the logo and type of festivals, given people their 2 images of 4 different events and the had to figure out which event they came from [figure 4] are the fonts and figure 5 are the logos from each festivals I had chosen, they where Roskilde, pink pop, Leeds/Reading and Glastonbury

Looking at [figure 7] people struggled to identify where the fonts came from, the font they identified was the Leeds/reading, they couldn’t figure out the other fonts because they where from abroad. But I was surprised that people couldn’t really guess the Glastonbury font, but to more of a surprise looking at [figure 8] the logo designs would have been easier for people to remember and notice but still like [figure 7] they only knew the reading/Leeds logo. When looking at what festivals people knew Glastonbury was very popular but in the survey only a small amount knew the logo, and when speaking to people they seem to have no idea what it looked like but still Glastonbury is one of the biggest festivals in Europe, but what else makes it popular? Looking from the other research it seems atmosphere and word of mouth is also something to consider as well Glastonbury represents a lot of things and is run by charities that help the world. So looking at the results the biggest factor within posters from the people’s point of view is colour, something that will attract them to looking at the poster will make them consider going or researching the event more.


Continued... For the second questionnaire it was based on festivals, looking at what kind of festival people have been to, the most popular were Leeds, reading and Glastonbury this was something easy to predict because of the first questionnaire people had only seemed to know them more than others but looking at the results most people that hadn’t gone to big festivals went to easy local festivals that are non-profitable. When looking at the age range that went to festivals it was mainly men and women between the ages of 18-25, which also expected because of the atmosphere festivals are considered places of partying and drinking and drugs, things that attract young students to them. When looking at if people travel away to festivals there was a lot of people that did and with lot of people, looking at the results 46.2% of people travel with 4-6 people, which makes of the question what influenced you to looking at a certain festival with a high vote of friends with 84% seems that people are a big factor of advertising for festivals as word by mouth is the best way to get people to events. But looking at the rest of the results


posters came third as websites came second, showing that print is slowly being pushed out by the internet and a more direct look at websites which will have more information. Looking at both of the questionnaires were two questions that seemed to connect together about what people look for in posters and what influences people more to going to festivals, As I was analysing poster I noticed they don’t put the price on them but people chose price as something that would influence them more, also this giving websites an advantage over posters as they give more of the information. Asking what

genres people would most likely to go to people chose Rock, Indie and a variety of music followed close by with dance and drum n’ bass which are in the same cater subculture as dance. Which surprised me a lot because I thought pop would also be in the top 3 because its only popular because of the people, showing that people don’t always follow the crowd and go for there own culture. This also connects with the influences in going to festivals as popularity of festivals came out that 23% of people would chose it

for that reason. Which also give the question most of the reason of going to a music festival is for the music that is there with 97% of people saying that the line up of the festival is a big factor of it all, that is the reason they would pay 50-200 pounds to go to the place and that is just for the festival, there is also travelling to consider which people say they would travel for to go to a festival.


Chapter 5: Comparing and contrasting festivals and there poster


his first chapter looks at the rock poster design and the first poster design will be is from Roskilde festival and analysing how it uses signs within there posters to show the hidden message within its advertisement and looking how it suit the rock genre poster design. Looking at the aspects and factors in chapter 2 of poster designs. Examining this poster and seeing if it has all the factors spoken about in the second chapter, looking at the poster you can see that it is showing a message immediately with a lot of things to remember like the women’s face and the sign she is using with her hands, The way they have used relevant subject to the poster is shown because it is a rock festival, with the women showing the rock sign. The concision of the poster is a bit different as it



has to show a lot of information but it does have space and with all the images and wording are associated with the event and the subject its showing. The Concision, it is every word on the poster understood and necessary for the message it is giving on the poster and if there is information is there minimal on it that still shows it how limited as possible the information should be. For an event poster it does look very simple but it shows the hierarchy very well using the different sizes of the main line ups of the event.

As well as looking at the appearance of the poster there’s also the hidden sign with in the poster design. The signifier in this poster is the words “join the feeling” and the signified is the young women doing the rock sign with a very confused expression. The rock sign is a very symbolic sign that is used a lot in rock and metal, meaning the devil with its two horns which is very predicable as its for a rock event and the usage of the women representing real people. There isn’t much of a connection with the signifier and the signified as gone the feeling more aims at the atmosphere but it does connect with the way the poster itself uses colour giving it a feeling of rock. The point the picture and the wording connect together making you should come and feel the rock sensation. Making the signifier and the signified connected giving you a cultural feel of the poster. Looking into the two different signs they give a myth of where the rock sign which is


Continued... The second poster is the reading and Leeds poster, both events are sister festivals that have the same style and have the same acts, this poster is very type based with a clear aspect, showing you that the most important thing in the festival are the acts and is focused In the music. Everything in this poster is relevant to the event showing every performance and sponsor, there isn’t anything in it to say it isn’t focused about the event giving the all the necessary information. In this poster the appeal is mainly the band names at the top, which would be the headliners who are the popular/well known bands at the time, which is the big factor of the poster, which is attracting attention to its target audience but the headliners don’t distract the audience from the other bands also appearing at the festival. This poster would be used for billboards that are really big but as the type used is clear it would be very easy to see from far especially with the background being bright and colourful. When looking further into this poster it has a lot of signs for a very typography based poster. With the festival being all about the music, it also gives you the feeling of what the festival can represent with the poster being in yellow the connotation giving 24 you that cultural meaning of youth,

fun, happiness, sunshine and a light playful feeling, telling the audience that is what the atmosphere of the festival is. Yellow is a very cheerful and energetic colour. The main type on the poster is all in thick bold capitals which mainly means that you’re shouting at the audience but in a negative way, but it is also can mean that your trying to demand attention, trying to get the audience to look at all the line-ups in the Festival and with the fact that the bigger the size of the text there the ones they want you to notice.




Going through each chapter and looking at which festivals are popular, one can see that a lot of them are in Europe and have been around for a long time, all these festivals have been associated with drugs and using there as a basis of the festival and the way people think of festivals have been called many things from leisure activity to a big party. With the outlook of a festival being a party and music, these factors turn into the usage of drugs and looking at each different type of music drugs are used a lot in festivals but for each different music culture it seems that they have different sorts of drugs being used. The reason can be seen as in dance music people use drugs that make them more awake and energetic but for something smoother like popular music people use drugs that would make them relax like cannabis to chill with the music. Looking at why people travel so far for festivals, there are many reasons for how far

they are travelling, seeing the research and the way people say that festivals are a leisure activity, so people who have finished for there holidays now pick festivals as a new idea as a holiday, but they audiences that do go are mainly the ages of 18-25, mainly students that want to have fun and relax and have fun with there friends. With the research you can see in the [appendix in questionnaire 1] looking at what people have chosen as the hierarchy that people only picked festivals because of the price and the location, although people gave alcohol and drugs a very low score, even though they are mainly the biggest substances used in festivals next to food. When looking at all these types of posters together and looking into there signs and seeing how successful they are they all work out to be very successful posters for what they are advertising. They all show what type of cultural genre each poster is

about example you can see that the Roskilde poster [figure 4] is aimed for people in the rock culture because of the usage of dark colours and the signs used in it compared to the Pinkpop poster, [figure 2] which uses a lot of bright colours which change the atmosphere of what there trying to portray in the poster. But then in the reading/ Leeds poster [figure 5] they aren’t just advertising the festival itself but the line up, showing you they have a variety of bands that make it good giving it a very alternative feel to what the festival is about, whereas looking at the Glastonbury s 40th Anniversary poster it is showing you the heritage of the festival and how it has grown since it first started. When comparing the posters there were a lot of factors in them as they where very the same, they all are very informative pieces of work that show the same sort of sign, inviting people to some the festival and showing them what the atmosphere would be like in the way they use there colour. The way the images have been used all are relevant to what they are trying to show in each poster giving a sense of belonging to that sort of culture, specially the Roskilde festival and using the rock sign which is associated a lot with rock bands, with people from that culture using it as a sign of “you rock”. Something that is very different about each of the posters is its character;

they all seem to send out there message in a different way, either through image text or information. But most of all, all the posters give you a great feel of how the festival is about and how the ‘experience’ will be, all telling you a story and shows you the way they use certain stereotypes for each genre.


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Dissertation Design  

This is the design of my disseration, its about festivals and there posters comparing and contrasting the posters and looking at the meaning...

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