In the early days of the Soviet movie industry, designers might only have a few hours to create a promotional poster. It wasn’t uncommon for commissioners to hand over a bunch of publicity shots at 5pm and expect something by 10am the next morning. If you were lucky, you’d get a synopsis.
I’ve carried this “be fast” philosophy into my work. My posters are fast, crude and lack finesse. Which is the point. They’re disposable promotions. The Soviets often printed on cheap paper and sometimes on the backs of older posters. Mine enjoy the permanence of an iPad Pro and iCloud.
I’d not created a poster in a couple of weeks, so I did my usual “pick something at random”. This time the object was The Collectors, one of my wife’s favourite bands. The subject was tour dates. I gave myself four hours.
A bit of hunting round and looking at pictures brought the first flash of inspiration. The band members have distinctive haircuts, so that would be my starting point. I grabbed an image, fired up Affinity Designer on my iPad and set to work. Something must have been right because when I showed my wife the four silhouettes the reaction was “Oh, The Collectors!”
Typography was a problem. Japanese doesn’t have a huge range of typefaces to choose from, at least not for my iPad. I thought about cutting characters out and pasting them into the design. That’s a lot of work and I didn’t have time.
The solution was a lot of drawing. I hand-traced the Japanese, which is why it looks a little wrong. I added to the crudeness feeling by slanting the lines, mis-aligning words and using different line weights. My resident Japanese expert has assured me it’s all perfectly legible.
Content forced me to add a constraint. The Collectors are an active band and tour a lot. That meant a lot of Japanese to trace and paste. As time as against me, I constrained myself to February 2020.
Harking back to the Mods
One last touch. As a band inspired by the UK’s Mod subculture, the RAF roundel turns up a bit. In the band’s Japanese name there’s a single dot which started life as a crude drawn circle. It looks out of place to a Westerner’s eye, but makes sense.
I tried a couple of variations. One put a photo of the band onto the page until my wife pointed out it had the wrong drummer in it. Another had the haircuts underneath the text, although that looked messy. I put the Collectors in English across the top of the poster, but that didn’t work. It looked like a wall of text.
The final design
So four hours later I settled on this final design.
With more time I could polish the design. There could be better typography or more detail applied to the silhouettes. Maybe the photo idea could be resurrected. That isn’t the point though. This is a fast poster with a singular purpose: tell fans where they can see a much-loved band playing.
I think it succeeded.
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