Adelaide Fringe 2007 Poster

S0 March is here again , the leaves are turning brown, etc, etc, and in Adelaide, March means the beginning of a number of high profile events, the biggest being The Adelaide Fringe Festival, and my chance, once again to ‘critique’ the latest promotional poster for it.

The Fringe organisers like to speak in terms of it being an ‘open access event’, so in that spirit, the poster is chosen through a competition open to the general public. This years winner is above, I’d love to be able to tell you the designer’s name, but the Fringes own website isn’t very forthcoming in any information on this years poster (maybe it’s hidden in there somewhere) and a quick google searched returned nada.

I think the posters is a nice overall answer to this years specific design brief – an emphasis on the ‘unpredictable’ being this years theme – pigs flying is an obvious and recognised metaphor to interpret that. I just think the posters let down a little in it’s execution and it’s attempt to stretch it’s interpretation too far.

I find the pig itself a little ugly and awkward, it looks like it’s been manufactured by the auto trace in Illustrator. It’s neither polished enough, nor naive enough to be an attractive graphic, it tries to place it’s trotters in both camps and doesn’t succeed in being a part of either. Speaking of awkward, the pig’s caricature ‘Asian leer’ I find a little unsettling. I know that there was no malice intent on this, from what I’ve heard, it is supposed to connect to the fact that 2007 is the Chinese ‘Year of the pig’. More than one person I’ve spoken to has wondered why the pig looks the way it does – as I mentioned above, it’s an attempt to stretch the interpretation of the idea into areas it doesn’t need to, or in fact are relevant. By trying to say too much it has in fact diluted the original intent. If the Fringe this year was particularly focusing on Chinese culture in it’s programme (it isn’t) it might be appropriate. If Adelaide had a significantly large Chinese population as part of it’s general population it might be appropriate. The poster is depending on the viewers knowledge that 2007 is the Chinese year of the pig – something that has nothing to do with the actual Adelaide Fringe other than they happen to fall in the same year. Without this prior knowledge, the poster skirts dangerously close to racial slur, definitely not the intent (and for all I know, the designer could be of Chinese descent and this was the reason it was incorporated into the poster, because it’s significant to the designer them self maybe, but out of context, it loses any association to the general viewer). perhaps a better connection could have been made in Adelaide’s popular Rundle Mall pig statues were used as the model in the design? Instantly recognisable and popular with the Adelaide population, I guess easy to say in hindsight.

On a slightly lighter note, the pork-chopper in question is seemingly modelled on the Blackhawk helicopter – the tubes on the side – Porky’s packing heat! If you look at them closely, I think they are supposed to be ‘stage lights’ not missile tubes. It’s not helped by the fact that it looks like this future ham sandwich has launched a few in the background, exploding upon the hapless and peaceful citizens of the Adelaide cbd. Interesting considering the fact that another theme of this years Fringe is ‘double peace’, whatever the hell that means!

The pig graphic does work really well as an animated graphic in screen applications which is a serious bonus and consideration when designing such things that have to cover such a broad range, the Adelaide cbd graphic is quite nice as well. And hey, I entered this year as well and didn’t even make it as a finalist! Yes, shock! I suck! So when it comes down to these things what they hell do I know!

On a final note to the Fringe organisers, and a particular annoyance of my own, if your going to have specific music as part of your event, used to promote the ADELAIDE Fringe, which takes place in ADELAIDE, how about promoting some of the multitude of ADELAIDE music talent, instead of going to the eastern states – now that would be unpredictable!

1 comment
  1. Anonymous said:

    Ryan Stephens is the 2007 Fringe Poster designer. Sunday Mail 12 Nov 06 THE SCENE:PIGS might fly – and they did as the Fringe 2007 poster was unveiled to a 300-plus crowd.MPs rubbed shoulders with the arts community and media identities to preview the artwork that will adorn bus shelters, TV and billboards across Australia.A cheeky flying pig making its way across the city skyline, designed by Ryan Stephens, was chosen from 200 amazing entries.Now it’s an anxious wait for the Fringe 2007 program launch to see what delights await us in the coming year’s festival.

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