So the the poster for the 2011 Adelaide Fringe was launched today designed by (Bulgarian?) designer Kamen Goranov. So we’re outsourcing our design work to Bulgaria now 🙂 ? In all seriousness, nothing against Mr Goranov and his design which is actually pretty nice as a responce to creating some ‘iconic ambassadors’ for the event (though I’m a little over the whole spray paint, stencil effects thing that), but there are so few opportunities for local designers to produce work for such a high profile Adelaide event, we really have to open it up to all and sundry? We can’t have this one small crumb? Actually, I’ve been thinking lately about the whole ‘open contest’ aspect of the Fringe poster and what it has really become. Back when the Fringe was really what it still calls itself ‘a fringe event’ for more ‘cutting edge, low budget or experimental’ acts, maybe not considered appropriate for the more ‘prestigious’ Adelaide festival of Arts. In that context, a public submitted poster design contest is perhaps an appropriate grass roots type of promotional piece. The fact of the matter is though, is that the Fringe is now grown into a whole other beast, a serious, money making, mainstream commercial enterprise, even surpassing the Adelaide Arts Festival it was once on the ‘fringe’ of. This is increasingly being reflected over the years in the promotional poster. Where once the poster was a visual introduction to the eclectic and outsider aspect of the Fringe, as it has become more corporate and more mainstream, so it seems, has control over the poster and the overall ‘branding’ of the event. The poster was once designed as ‘a whole’, image and typography having to be incorporated together, a poster to advertise The Fringe – the shift in recent years has been to the public submitting an image or illustration that has then been ‘branded’ by the Fringe’s designers of choice with the event s set corporate typography (or as one talented ‘wag’ posted on Facebook, ‘It’s good to see that the Fringe is staying true to its mission to bring bad typography to the world’, I wouldn’t be mean enough to say that, no matter what I might think 😉 It’s not just a poster anymore, but t-shirts, mugs, hats, keyrings (whatever they can think to put it on actually). So maybe it’s time The Fringe got with the times and really sold the ‘poster’ contest like it now is, it’s no longer a poster competition, rather it’s a ‘provide an illustration’ competition, or, lets be honest about it, a cheap branding contest. So why don’t they just really bite the bullet, get serious and actually hire some of the brilliant local brand specialists to design a cohesive promotional program for their now very commercial exercise? Maybe because by calling it a ‘poster’ rather than an expansive brand identity, they can justify the paltry ‘prize’ reward of the $1000 travel voucher the winner receives, I’m not so cynical as to propose this is 100% the case, but good luck to Mr Goranov if he plans to try and use his prize to get to Adelaide to check out the fruits of his labour.