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Festival Posters

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.



With all due respect to the creators of these posters and all their photo-shoppery brilliance, as someone who is slightly coulrophobic (fears clowns) and has to pass by and see these hanging on bus shelters every morning, they scare the hell out of me. The first one in particular reminds me of the film clip for Aphex Twins ‘Come To Daddy’, and don’t start me on the too human eyes, following you everywhere. So I guess the message is, ‘Have fun at the show kid and welcome to hell!

This years Australian Graphic Design Awards Have been announced and will be presented in my good ol’ hometown of Adelaide. They’ve taken an interesting and some might say, controversial approach in their call for entries promotion – here is how the awards website describes the concept:

It has been said that the only people who bag Adelaide are those who have never been there and those who have never left. When the Victorian Premier, John Brumby, dropped his famous “backwater” comment about Adelaide, blog sites lit up with all manner of interstate opinion about our little town. Nine of the most popular opinions were taken directly from these blog sites, posted by real people, and given to Adelaide artists to interpret. Yes, we know that Adelaide can be a little weird, but that’s what makes the place interesting. We also enjoy having a laugh at ourselves.

It’s true, Adelaide seems to be the butt of jokes for the rest of the nation, especially those darn eastern states highbrows! 🙂 What the denizens of Melbourne and Sydney often fail to realise is no matter how much you keep telling everyone how cultured and sophisticated your town is in comparison, it doesn’t actually make it so. In Adelaide, we just tend to get on with things and leave the bravado to those with the insecurity problems! We can take it, how about the rest of you guys?

Anyway, the promotion for the awards came to members by way of one of nine A1 posters created by Adelaide artists, shown here with the ‘quote’ they based the artwork on. All the images were taken from the AGDA site and are of course © to the respective creators.

Daniel Noone
“Ah Adelaide, ya gotta love it, like a boring relative. A quaint little stop over on way to Perth. Full of Church’s, Fish’n Chip shops and Lesbians.” Posted by: Brad of Syd

I’m sure this poster looks great and lush at full size, it seems a very Advertising Awards solution which may not be a bad thing, it reminds me of something they might have done a few years ago, though the days when an image like this would truly shock anyone are long past.

Sam Barratt and Chris Edser
“No problems with Adelaide. I go there whenever I need Torana or Cortina parts.” Posted by: Bobby Bling of Bris Vegas

This is probably my favourite of all the posters and the most difficult of all the quotes to illustrate. Sam and Chris have run with it and created a wonderful, leftfield concept incorporating imaginary creatures that are ‘unique’ to Adelaide, unpretentious and fun.

Samantha Jarrett and Mash
“Adelaide is like that pathetic friend you can’t get rid of. Sure you go to his house ‘cause he’s got a ping pong table, but he’s a loser and a bit weird!” Posted by: Boxed Head of Ballarat

A great photo and really captures that ‘not quite right’ quality of the quote and an ‘otherness’ that Adelaide seems to embody to the rest of the country. No surprise that Mash are involved with the concept, as they seem to be becoming masters of portraying a uniquely Adelaidean off-kilter design aesthetic, ie: their work doesn’t look like it could come from anywhere else.

Danny Snell
“LOL … you must be kidding! Beautiful, peaceful Adelaide? That’s why it’s got the nickname “The Murder Capital” of Australia! SA’s you are pathetic bogans!” Posted by: Samantha Jones of Melbourne

Danny Snell is one of the best illustrators in Australia, and he doesn’t disappoint here. You don’t often get to see his work on such a large scale, so this must look fantastic at A1.

Benzo
“Cost of living is low, drug supplies are high.” Posted by: Wildcoug of Adelaide

Interesting style and nice inclusion of the eponymous Adelaide icons, the frog cake, Farmers Union Iced Coffee and Pale Ale. I really hate the shadow silhouette around the edge of the artwork though.

Nahum Ziersc
“The city that always sleeps.” Posted by: Ron of Sydney

My least favourite of all the concepts, this style of illustration just does nothing for me, and I’m not sure I see the connection between the quote and the artwork – I’m probably in the minority there though!

Fontaine Anderson
“Adelaide is like an annoying small dog that yaps, barks, jumps around and makes alot of noise about nothing, trying to be like a big dog.” Posted by: Vic of Melbourne

I love Fontaine’s artwork, but there’s something about this that doesn’t quite gel for me. There’s obviously a lot of work gone into it, maybe it comes across better viewing it at full size.

John Engelhardt
“Thought people in Adelaide were living proof Tasmanians could swim.” Posted by: The Swanny from Sydney

John Engelhardt is quickly becoming one of my favourite illustrators and pulls off a blinder with this fantastic single colour illustration. I would say he had the hardest quote to illustrate and executes it beautifully. I want him to design my full back tattoo when I finally become senile/pathetic enough to actually get one.

Timothy Ide
“It’s pretty much a small going nowhere town with a lot of dark seedy murders/child mollestations/rock spiders/ etc etc not the sort of town one would move to in a hurry. It has nothing going for it and is boring and gossipy. Turn the clock back to the 80s is what this boring town is all about. Who wants to go there? Delta Goodrem’s mother lives there and Lleyton and he’s a mindless jerk. Who else? A few nobody celebs might call Adelaide home. Why is anyone’s guess.” Posted by: Vic lover of Vic

There’s always been something a bit creepy about Timothy Ide’s work, so he seems the perfect choice to illustrate probably the most controversial of the quotes, he falls just short of crossing the line. If any of these pieces are likely to raise an uproar, this one’s it.

So there you have it, at the very least, some nice illustrations and a pretty interesting concept. Kudos to Voice as well for their ‘boots ‘n all’ logo for the event, at first I thought it looked too ‘alchohol promtion’ but it has since grown on me.

If this has picqued you’re interest in the Awards, you can get all the details at the AGDA website. It’s always an interesting event, despite there being too many categories, too many awards, too many judges, too self inclusive and too damn expensive to enter – but that’s another article! 🙂

Looking to re-ignite that fading creative spark, here some new and different sounds, or just relax to the sombre tones of a world of music? Then do yourself the proverbial favour this weekend if you’re in Adelaide and get down to Botanic Park to soak in the atmosphere of the always fantastic and eye-opening Womadelaide World Music Festival. I’ve been every year since it’s inception and it’s never failed to enlighten my (sometimes) diminished creative soul with something either really different or really beautiful. Some of my favourite moments have been sitting under a tree at Womad and soaking in the sounds and atmosphere of this event (and it is an event in the true sense of the world). True to form, Adelaide always turns on the hot weather for Womad, but don’t let that stop you from getting down there. Even if you have no interest in world music, it’s worth it just to watch some hippie ‘tree dancers’ strut their stuff, it’s also very kid friendly and my (future) father-in-law gives a big thumbs up to the coffee and pancakes on sale 🙂 Also worth checking out is the Womadelaide Website to not only get a run down on this years event, but check the archives for past years’ line-ups, including my ‘dream-team’ lineup and all time favourite poster from 1995! As you can also see from above, nice poster this time around as well!

Having reviewed the poster design for Adelaide’s forthcoming arts festival, it would be some what remiss of me to not also take a look at the poster for Adelaide’s other big arts event, The Fringe. As always, the poster was decided through an open design contest, this year’s winner was Hat Morgan. While I haven’t always been that pleased by the poster contests results, you can say that at least the winning poster is usually fun an colourful whuch I guess goes a long way to putting the appropriate face on such a lively and popular event. I think Hat has done an excellent job this time around. There’s nothing too cereberal about the ‘mind-blowing’ image, it’s quirky but not so much as to be off putting to the average punter. The two characters on the poster are quite iconic and usefully versatile when translated to other mediums such as TV spots and online applications. I like the way Hat has gotten across the ‘mindblowing’ image without being out-there gross or cliched, it hasn’t been rendered in a trendy, fashion-following style, but follows it’s own unique path. I’m not entirely sure the green stripes add much to the design, I imagine a bit of space around the figures would have only added to their impact, and the type feels a little design-school default in it’s choice of font and setting. These are pretty minor quibbles though, overall I think it succeeds and portrays the Fringe as an exciting and much anticipated event.

The Adelaide festival of Arts 2008 Poster has been up and around for a few weeks now, probably the biggest art orientated design item going in this city, I thought it was time to once again take a look at what they’ve come up with this time around. This is what the blurb on the Festival website has to say about it:

In 2008 we celebrate the artwork of a South Australian visual artist for the Festival’s ‘look’. Our motto, What are you seeing? begins with our cover design – the ambiguous, biomorphic sculpture by Michael Kutschbach (go, you little dynamo, go!). After a tradition of a two-dimensional image representing the Festival, we take you for the first time into the third dimension with a sculptural object to surprise, confound and delight.

“I like the idea of the sculpture being thought of as a peculiar kind of Alien. An Alien that is fresh and new to this city, yet at the same time entirely formed by it and its people.

The work is essentially intended as a very tactile object whose final form is the result of an attempt to embody, in abstract formal terms, the strength, dynamism, beauty, confidence and playfulness that will be the upcoming 2008 Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts.

It is a friendly and uncertain form designed to appeal directly to the viewer’s senses, to deliberately entice the viewer to come closer and to ask what it is and what it might be doing here. This positive uncertainty and desired curiosity runs through the Festival’s theme of What are you seeing?”

While I would argue that this is the first time that the image of the Festival has been represented by a three dimmensional sculptural object (both the posters for 2002 and 1978 both feature sculptural items as their focus) it’s never the less an interesting visual – kind of a cross between a triffid and a sunlamp from my perspective, I don’t know if my interpretation says nothing or everything about the event (encompassing the literate and the vain perhaps? 🙂

It’s obvious from the poster that like the 2006 piece, this comes across as very much a branding exercise, a centrepiece to offshoot all of the Festivals communication requirements rather than just a stand alone, though they have gone back to incorporating a piece of fine art as was the norm previous to the 2006 poster.

It’s a pity then that the Festival site doesn’t mention the contributions made in this regard by the design firm, Fusion, who are handling the branding of the 2008 event. The most impressive aspect of the poster to me is the typography (though I guess you would say I’d say that!) It’s beautifully organic and flowing, playing off those elements of the sculptural piece and implemented across the entire range of the Festivals promotional items. Fusion are an excellent choice to carry this out, their expertise in new media, online applications and video are second to none, and where this branding really comes to life is when you see the typography move and grow across the screen in television commercials and online. It’s been really well thought out to work across all mediums rather than pandering to the needs of one or the other – quite a task for such a large event that covers just about every promotional medium.

As a poster it does it’s job effectively, it’s nice to see all that white space for the beautiful type to stand out in, and the sculptural piece is a ‘have to take a second look’ sort of proposition’, As is typical with this kind of thing, the only off-putting element for me is the size of those logos at the bottom, something I’m sure is out of the designers hands and a neccessary evil, but for some reason looks all the more obtrusive this time around.


Can anyone explain to me why these posters for the Adelaide Film Festival (first) and The Durban Film Festival (second) are so similar? Not pointing the finger at anyone, but they are both really similar to each other – not just from an idea standpoint but stylistically similar as well, they could all have been produced during the same photo shoot. They both must have been produced at around the same time, was there some ‘consensus of vision’ as far as the promotional material for both events? I tend to think not because of the difference in how the typography is handled. There were more in the series for the Adelaide event, but these two presented here were they only ones I could find online, sorry about the quality of the ‘set of 3’ below for the Durban event, I took a screen grap from a pdf giving a sneak peak of a book soon to be released by Durban design firm Disturbance. I seem to remember there being an Adelaide one similar to the Durban ‘hair salon’ one as well. Maybe it’s just a case of the collective zeitgeist clashing in the same idea at the same moment – you don’t know how long I’e been waiting to use the word zeitgeist in one of my posts! Regardless, they have both ‘borrowed’ heavily from avante-garde music and visual art group The Residents, though clarification on the matter would be appreciated.

 


***UPDATE***
Monica from the Durban Film Festival was kind enough to reply and shed some light from their perspective on the whole scenario – seems it is just a case of synchronisity at work! She does raise a good point about where I sourced the images though, and if you’re interested at seeing more of the Durban Eyeball guy, go to their site here to check it out.

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!

The Adelaide Fringe began in 1960 as an alternative to the Adelaide Festival of Arts, an ‘open access event’ that allows anyone with ideas, enthusiasm (and admittedly, the registration fees!) to be part of the program. It has grown over the years to become perhaps the second biggest arts festival of it’s kind, only eclipsed by the Edinburgh Fringe.

In the spirit of an ‘open access event’ the promotional poster is chosen each year by a contest that is open to the public, a method that you can probably imagine has produced mixed results over the years. It’s probably the most ‘well entered’ contest of it’s kind in Adelaide, a favourite among students and professional designers alike that have dominated the submissions in recent years (it seems every third or fourth Fringe that they try to regain their open access policy by awarding the winning entry to someone who isn’t studying or employed as a designer:)

The past few years, the Fringe has also been big on giving the event a specific ‘theme’ to help direct the would-be designers in their interpretation (I guess this theme encompasses the Fringe as a whole as well).The theme for 2006 is ‘Re-generation’ and the idea of re-inventing itself. Winner of this years poster contest was Roger Tiley, a designer at uber-great local design firm Do-Da. He chose to interpret the theme of re-generation by recycling previous years posters into origami cranes.

As far as conveying said theme – it’s not bad as concepts go – it of course depends largely on the viewer being familiar with past posters to get it’s point across, easy if you have a mind for remembering past designs, but as designers we often forget that a poster such as this is an immediate thing and probably forgotten by the general public a week after the event finishes. Anyway, ok as a concept, but if you’re really going to dip into the history of an event approaching it’s 50th anniversary – re-inventing itself – it would suggest to me that you might want to dip a bit further into that history and use some posters that cover a greater timeline than the last 8 years. Does the Fringe really need to re-invent itself from the last 8 years? To be fair, I would hazard a guess that it has more to do with the availability of past posters to fold, than deliberately snubbing earlier posters.

The Adelaide Fringe Website goes into great lengths in justifying the use of the paper crane on the poster. You can read it here,
they seem to be drawing a pretty long bow in my opinion, tying it into Hiroshima victims, Japanese legends and the perfect symbol of peace – pretty heady stuff! My first reaction when I saw the poster was, ‘Well if you’re going to use origami, a crane is the obvious piece of folding to use so people know that it is origami. The explanation smacks a little bit of the ‘bullshit’ that we designers use to justify our amazing design creations to a client. You know how it goes – you design it, you love it, you need to find a way to re-assure the client that their trust and money spent is warranted. My apologies to Roger if the design did stem from his deep thoughts into the matter, it sounds pretty heavy going for an event that has previously been represented by a pink reindeer and a close up of someone’s tonsils.

As nicely folded as the paper crane is, it’s not the most dynamic visual you can imagine, it’s a little sedate, which is ok, but to me the Fringe is all about life and movement – it’s a two week blast of comedy, music & theatre, a chance to try new things and to laugh and take in the vibe surrounding you. The poster needs to draw you into the event – a paper crane just isn’t doing that for me.

The finished poster was done in conjunction with designers for this years Fringe ‘Nicknack’. An organic, handrawn headline works well against the precisely folded crane to the extent that it’s actually a lot more exciting than it. With some more work I feel that the type treatment could have been the basis for the whole poster and still have fitted in with the Fringe’s much touted re-generation theme. I like the teal background as well – you can never have enough teal – I think I might paint my bedroom in it! 🙂

All that said, the poster is out there, tickets are selling, the Fringe people are happy with it, Roger Tiley is going to Malaysia (or where ever his prize was to!) and I’m not – maybe I should enter next time and put my money where my mouth is!

A quick note to the Fringe regarding the poster’s size. Normally the poster is printed up A1-A0 sizes, the largest I’ve seen is A2 and mostly I’ve seen it at a puny A4. It looks like a flyer for a Primary School fete at this size. I know they had the extra costs of printing four different posters (in full colour no-less) but the Fringe poster needs to be seen around town AS BIG AS POSSIBLE! Especially with the delicate nature of this years imagery.