How the SXSW 2014 poster was designed

The world's hippest design festival kicks off this Friday. James Flames explains how he created the official poster for SXSW 2014.

James Flames' poster for SXSW reflects the benign madness of the annual festival

Austin is a pretty crazy and magical place during SXSW, and I wanted the image for this poster to kind of symbolically show how that crazy magic is made from the convergence of the unique people at the event, the technology and equipment used to entertain us at the event, and the actual environment that the event takes place at.

So in the scene, there are these travelers, and their journey has taken them to this big clearing. They each have a unique key with them, and they need to find the right keyhole that fits their particular key.

When they find it and turn the key, the hills explode and the party begins!

The nighttime is always the best part of SXSW, to me – so I made sure to have the scene take place under a starry sky.

And the whole thing with the keys wasn’t even part of the original concept that I pitched to them.

I always like to leave room for the narrative of a piece to develop as I work on it more and more, and I got the idea for adding the keys halfway through the process.

It’s so awesome when things like that just seem to reveal themselves, as if they were there all along and were just waiting for me to find it – makes the whole thing that much more satisfying.

These posters are 18 x 24-inch screenprints, done in five colours, and I hand printed them in my studio here in Asheville, NC. The SXSW folks should have them available all throughout the entire festival – and I will also have some at my booth for the Flatstock poster show during the last week of the festival.

Words: James Flames

Based out of Asheville, NC, born and bred in Brooklyn, NY, James Flames is an illustrator and screenprinter. Follow him on Twitter @thejamesflames

Also read:

Are you going to SXSW? We'd love to hear what you're most looking forward to. Let us know in the comments!