How to design an inspiring gig poster

For designer Dan Stiles, working for music industry clients equals creative freedom and a relaxed brief. For this project, that meant drawing inspiration from a source close to home.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about this project?

It's a screen-printed gig poster for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. It's based on their song Home; a whimsical duet, with a man and a women expressing their affection for one another.

Q: What was the brief?

The great thing about music posters is that there usually isn't a formal creative brief. It really defeats the purpose to come in with heavy-handed art direction, and most bands understand this, as they don’t want anyone telling them how to write songs. The client really wants you to explore the fringe - dull and safe concepts get rejected.

Q: Where did the inspiration come from?

I wanted to capture the essence of a loving relationship, and it got me thinking about a conversation I'd had with my wife. I don’t think a person really knows themselves until they’re in a relationship with someone who can truly see inside of them and point out things about which they aren’t consciously aware. I'm not talking about chewing with your mouth open, I mean deeply ingrained constructs that people live their lives by.

Q: How did you go about developing your idea into a creative direction?

I started playing with what it might look like for one person to look inside of another. I have a very reductive process - I try and say as much as I can using as little as I can. The fact that it looks like a mask is a bonus, as most of us go through life wearing our personalities as a mask in order to keep others from seeing in.

Q: Any unusual inspirations?

My personal favourite is to mis-see things. I'll think, "Wow that's great, it's an XYZ inside an ABC", or whatever. Then I get closer and realise I was totally wrong, which is great, because that vision of what I thought I was seeing is mine to use.

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 218

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