There are some projects that you ‘get through’, and there are some projects you endure. But once in a while, and I mean on a rare occasion, you get a project that is really interesting, that the client lets you have a ton of creative freedom, and they are usually so floored by what you come up with that you get the project again year after year. If this happens, you know you have struck gold in the design world. This is the kind of project you’d do for free (don’t tell the clients!) and sometimes you actually end up spending more time than asked, and doing a better job just because you want this kind of design love to go on and on. This set of posters is just that kind of project.
The Gallery 7 Theatre company is a small non-profit theatre society in Abbostford, BC. The company itself has been around for 15 years or so, and has worked it’s way up from humble origins in a church basement to a full professional theatre and a huge crowd of regulars that return every year for the level of quality that the group consistently puts into its productions.
The thing about theatres is they need posters. It was more than ten years ago that I designed my first series of images for the season at Gallery 7, and other than a two or three years hiatus it has been one of these ongoing projects I look forward to. Normally Ken (executive director of Gallery 7) and I have a discussion in about the overall creative direction. This year I created a mood-board of ideas that I found on ImgSpark (a great resource for you creative types for inspiration).
We decided to go with a bold set of posters in strong colours, that employed a collage of smaller line-art bits to create a greater whole. From there I developed the first poster for the season, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice for the stage. We wanted to create something unique for each poster. The play itself is about relationships, breaking traditional stereotypes, and family loyalty, and new images are not easy to come by for these themes. After some head-scratching and doodling I came up with the idea to build some bramble, heart and rose graphics that create a negative-space image of interlocking male and female pictograms showing the soft and hard parts of relationships, and using traditional ‘love’ imagery in a new way.
From there the posters started rattling off pretty quick… once you have a directions settled the ideas can come fast and furious. The next play, Chickens, is an irreverent barnyard comedy with whimsical imagery all loosely organized around a central hen image. The Diary of Anne Frank was more challenging, as I wanted to use the swastika image, but not in a way that was so bold as to be offensive. I wanted to show the interaction between the actual text of Anne’s journal, and the political events of the time. Finally, a stage version of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days gave me an opportunity to create period line-art from international landmarks and arrange them into a giant ’80′ so the imagery became part of the typography.
The end result gives a cool continuity to a poster series, has direct correlation with the brochures, and I feel will help Gallery 7 fill productions because of the distinct nature of the posters. Thanks again Gallery 7. See you next year hopefully?