You should already know that the next Bushwick event is about to rear its magnificent head.
But what you probably don’t know yet is of the existence of this awesome poster, custom designed for this very event by the mighty Travis Young. Take a look. Read more
The next Bushwick show is right around the corner….
Saturday December 14th at Columbia City Theater
The Bushwick Book Club Seattle Presents original music inspired by
David Byrne’s How Music Works Read more
As is common with my approach to poster design, in particular hand-drawn illustrations, I spent a good deal of time walking around thinking about what a Huckeleberry Finn poster would look like seen through the lens of my brain. This process can go on for days and days, provided there’s enough time (sometimes even if there really isn’t time – ask Geoff, he’ll admit he often has to play Mob boss: “Hey kid, where’s the friggin’ poster already for Christ sakes? You said Tuesday, now you say it’s Saturday at the soonest – I’m dyin’ over here! Dying, kid! It’s a poster, not the Sistine chapel!” ). Deep in the brain, iteration after iteration will cycle through until an element sticks – say, how the lettering would look – then another and another, until after a while there’s a pretty solid idea floating around my pink/grey matter. At that point I’m aching to get home and draw it.
For example, I was totally certain right away that the lettering would be big, bold, and R. Crumb-y, not unlike the illustration to the right.
The obvious way to do the text for a Huck Finn poster would be ornate and old-timey, so I wanted to run as far as possible to the other end of the spectrum. Seattle people, Bushwick fans – they’d appreciate that, I thought. I started working on the big block letters thinking that would be the easy part and once I had those done I’d know how much space was left for the illustration. Little did I know that every attempt to make good letters would result in awful, shitty letters staring back at me, wondering why I summoned them into such a mangled existence. It simply wouldn’t do, and I felt like I was back at square one.
Huck and Jim on the raft, rowing away from the viewer. Perfecto! Bam! – just put it on the paper. Let’s do the illustration first, I thought, and worry about the lettering later. I cracked open a beer, threw on Creedence to set the mood, and got down to business. Little did I know that every attempt to draw real-looking people would result in two awful, shitty people staring back at me wondering why their backs looked like their fronts (truly, their bodies seemed to be simultaneously facing you AND facing away from you – it was disturbing) and why the raft they stood on looked like long blocks of rigid string cheese mashed together with twine.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I can draw. But there are some things I can draw better than others, and some things I definitely need to work on for a while before delivering the product. Sometimes I’m surprised how easy something is that I thought would be hard. Other times, what I think will be tremendously easy turns out to be utterly impossible.
In the end, I decided to try a design built around whorls. I’d had fun using them in a limited way for a different project, so I took a crack at seeing what it would be like if they damn near filled the page. Suddenly, the entire design snapped into view: how the letters would be weaved amongst the whorls, how the banners would hang above and below the main design, even what color palette would best serve. I’ll let you be the judge on the final result but it’s at least a step up from what your cousin drew up for your high school punk band.
In another entry to come, I’ll explain the actual, physical process of creating separate hand-drawn elements, converting them to digital, creating a composite image and making the real magic happen. Until next time, readers!
TONIGHT – Thursday, May 16th at the Crocodile, we have a super-tasty show covering a few of the acclaimed Michael Pollan’s best known books. You should go to it. And now…
If you’ve been to any Bushwick Book Club Seattle event in the last 3 years, what you probably haven’t heard us ask you as much as we should is: how did you hear about the show? Maybe you heard Geoff on the radio. Maybe you know one of the songwriters, musicians, or performers. Maybe you got a Facebook invite from a trusted friend. Maybe you wrote the book.
From now on, whatever the motivations for gathering your book loving butts up from your comfy armchairs actually are, when anyone asks why – you say, “Because of that F’ing Rad Poster.” That will make me feel awesome. Or it will make Michael Wallenfels feel awesome. It’s not important who gets to feel awesome as long as it’s one of us. The performers get to feel awesome all the time either by leaving the stage to a raucous applause, or by leaving the stage without having died of anxiety, or by getting all the chicks, etc. – c’mon, they will be fine.
I know that sounds like a designer saying, “Waaah! We don’t get anything!” Yes, but that would also be what we call “roping you in to a blog post.”
So actually, to be honest, we designers get all kinds of respect and recognition, and a ridiculous amount of praise, especially when like-minded artistic types are involved. But I had to find a way to start writing about the idea of a gig poster as something integral to a successful show. Really, it is very important, but its importance is intrinsic – it’s built in. You can’t not have a poster, or at least it’s not wise not to. Years of experience has taught me the only thing truly impactful about gig posters is whether or not you have one (and also if you distribute any).
Obviously that is simplifying things a bit – there is a wonderfully intricate landscape of gig poster history, from uncommonly awful to absolute works of art. But, The Bushwick book Club Seattle shows are a special kind of opportunity for everyone involved – the grand ambitions vs. reality tug-of-war of putting together something so quickly is not much different than the process all Bushwick performers know so well – a pressure cooker of great ideas and limited time.
Each event brings its own unique experiences for both performers and volunteers and audiences, so today we’re kicking off a regular segment meant to share a little more of that with you. In my case it’s the agony and ecstasy of show poster design, Bushwick style.
Follow along after the break with the (somewhat) less verbose story of the Michael Pollan poster.