Spring Keen, Designing For a Cause
With the spring equinox, all this sun and good weather has got me thinking forward to summertime; delicious seasonal fruits, bright and plentiful vegetation, and refreshing swimming spots. Not to mention one of my favourite activities; music festivals. The valley is rich with musical talent, and there are always exciting musicians touring from around the world; the scene is an eclectic mix that also represents the vibrant community of the Comox valley.
Currently for a school project we have been asked to illustrate and design two concert-for-a-cause posters of our choice. Designing for a cause is something I feel strongly about. With so much self-absorption in our culture, it is important to sit back and think of the well-being of others; how we can lift each other up as a community using our talents. We can also give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves; BC’s wolf population, for example, which is one of the causes I chose to support.
Last summer I produced some poster artwork for an event that was held last month; Pieces, Celebrating Textiles. Pieces was an event that focused on the creative involved with hand-work, new ways of using and creating materials, and the revival of slow-fashion. Our modern world has us shopping for mass produced garments, often with unethical or unsustainable roots. Slow fashion brings us back to our ethics; bringing attention to the human impact of clothing production versus accelerating production to keep up with style trends. With many passionate speakers, this event was educating and inspiring.
Modern poster design is an age-old form of communication art dating back to the 1840’s, when the printing industry perfected colour lithography and made mass production possible. It is just as popular and effective today as it was decades ago. Though our styles and tools have changed, creating the same effect of luring the viewer into the magic of one’s design is still the end goal.
The late 1890’s to the early 1900’s was considered the golden age of poster design. Art Nouveau, a style that particularly speaks to me, was developed during this time. The Czech painter Alphonse Mucha was known for his Art Nouveau style, ability to capture the female form, and keen insight for reflecting his clients. For Mucha’s first poster he stumbled upon a rush job to design for Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress in Paris at the time. The poster was a huge success, attracting much attention. Bernhardt was so pleased with Mucha’s work that she began a six year contract with the painter.
Art Nouveau style is still strong today and has appeared several times throughout the decades as a popular poster style. My favourite Vancouver Island Music Festival poster is the one Bob Masse did in 2004. The poster is a perfect mix of conceptual imagery and breathtaking illustration. Sometimes in poster art the imagery is directly related to the event or performer, but often it takes a conceptual turn that can sometimes be a subtle departure from one idea into another. Masse does a gifted job of keeping his work reminiscent of Nouveau’s design roots, and relating it to its modern day use; promoting a lively and well loved music festival.
I look forward to continuing my work with poster design; the possibilities are endless, with the opportunity to represent the variety of different performers, causes, and events. This medium allows us to raise our voices and reach further, use our powers for good, and design for a cause; inspire connections, inspire change.