:TRANSMISSION: A Night for Joy Division & New Order

Here is the one I feel I've been waiting for as long as I've been the designer for Transmission.

I recently wrote on my other design blog a love letter to a very important figure in my life. Peter Saville, who, I've mentioned before, was the graphic designer for Factory Records, doing all the artwork for Joy Division and New Order, as well as many others. If you care to read the other blog I linked to, it would save me from having to reiterate what an impact the album cover for "Unknown Pleasures" had on me, as both a designer and a music fan, both of which are very very important things in my life, especially right now.

I also learned recently that right when Peter Saville was out of college, he asked Tony Wilson if he could do a poster for The Factory Night at the Russell Club (before they moved to the Hacienda), and that's how he got the job. All he did was ask. I could relate to that, because I asked Jake if I could do a Transmission poster, then I did, and he hasn't let me go yet. I kind of think of myself as the Peter Saville of this city, as Transmission is a night built largely upon the music that emerged from the Manchester music scene in the 70's and 80's. Obviously, the scale is significantly smaller, but there are still vague parallels...

That's why this poster was sooooo difficult to conceptualize. It had to be perfect, and I wanted to pay homage to Peter Saville like I have other times. This poster currently is the 5th or 6th try at an idea. The only thing that stuck with me the whole way through was the color scheme. I wanted black to represent Joy Division, and Blue to represent New Order. NOT because they have a song called "Blue Monday," but because their music is such a contrast, melodically, to Joy Divison's. Even though they are comprised of the same people. Obviously, the most stark contrast to Black is white, but I wanted it to be colorful, because New Order is colorful music and Joy Division is not.

Next, I thought about the album covers I knew and loved. There is no direct inspiration for this poster, but I thought something classic-looking was the best approach, since both bands were rather cutting-edge and ground breaking in their technologies and song-writing capabilities. I made one circle out of many circles to begin, and then went from there, creating a pattern, which kind of looks like flowers, but also--as Jake pointed out--transmission signals (Hey! That's the name of the night! And the name of the Joy Division song the night was named after!). The classic type (Adobe Caslon Pro, which has some BEAUTIFUL glyphs), was a juxtaposition to the cold, structured look of something that conveys technology. So, with that, I achieved an homage to the album cover for Power, Corruption and Lies, where the classic painting of flowers is juxtaposed with the colored bars in the corner.

I was at school when I did it, after perusing the Wink Inc site, I came across this packaging:

And I knew that's what I was going to do. Honestly, though, I didn't notice the type on the label so much as the graphic itself. I barely viewed it for a second before I went to work. This poster also inspired in me a deep love for Adobe Caslon Pro, and its amazing Glyph palette.

I hope Peter Saville would be proud of me.


I was sent a message from Ciaran Daly, who fronts local band The Idle Hands about doing a poster for his new DJ night he's doing with his brother, Crisotoir. I said yes, of course, because I've known about him and his band for a while now, and I'm a fan. He looked through my stuff and said he liked the Morrissey and Hall & Oates ones, which I sighed a bit at, because I'm starting to get paranoid that I do the silhouettes thing way too often. He suggested him and his brother's heads, with little ski caps on, since "The Parallel Christie" is a skiing reference, and their whole theme apparently is based around this skiing thing. I told Jake the project I was doing and he said "Don't make it look like a Transmission poster," which freaked me out even MORE, as I have no idea how to do something different from Transmission. I don't make my Transmission posters look like Transmission posters; I make them look like MY posters. So, yeah. I used GeoSans Light, which is a font I have never EVER used before, and i added the decorative border to give it a more retro look. The illustrations were easy enough to do, and voíla. Easy enough, I suppose. It's also nerve-wracking, working for new people. You don't know if they're going to love it or hate it or be confused by it or whatever. I think this has been a pretty successful endeavor. Ciaran liked it and I guess I'll be doing some more work soon.

:MUSIC: Yacht Rock

"MUSIC" is Jake's new night, which will happen once a month on Tuesdays, and will certainly be digging deeper into artists' catalogues than he would be able to at Transmission. It's not a dance night, it's a "relax and chill with a glass of wine" night. Should be pretty cool. First one is, of all things, Yacht Rock, which is actually a pretty big night at Transmission, which won't be happening this year. And I'm bummed about that, because I had a great idea for a poster. Anyway. Yacht Rock is all about the light, vanilla songs from the 70's and 80's that aren't even good enough to be considered "Guilty Pleasures." I had no idea how I was going to go about this one. Jake helped me out by sending some images and one painfully cheesy video my way. Then we got on the phone and tried even harder to get an idea for me of what to do. Eventually he decided I should just replicate this:

Which, when viewed side-by-side, I pretty much did just copy it. I tried to add my own flair, what with the yellow background. And copying stuff is something that only happens when there's not much else I can do. I had to capture the vibe appropriately, and I'm actually very pleased at how it turned out.

Besides, even the masters copy sometimes.


The last of my Seasons series. I wanted it to be round, since Summer took squares and Winter took polygons. I was thinking mostly about Cherry Blossom trees. They smell amazing and heavenly and always bloom about late April/early May. Can't wait for it.

:TRANSMISSION: Damn Right, It's Hall & Oates Night

I know next to nothing about Hall & Oates. They're largely a "guilty pleasure." Jake got in the mood, though, I guess, and he gave me the assignment. Something "not too overworked," as it would only be in the public view for less than a week, and he LOVES the floating silhouettes I do, and as I've pointed out to him, it only works when it's with a recognizable figure. Luckily, Hall & Oates are just distinctive enough. It was an easy-enough poster to make, and I got an "OMG" from him. Hall's hair amuses me greatly.

As for the night itself, it was fun as hell. And I probably never would have admitted to liking them before, but at the moment I can't get enough. Jake is making me a mix.


:PERSONAL: Hipster Jobs

It seems I haven't done a "Personal" project in a while. This was inspired after hanging out with my friend Kat at her work, which is a vintage clothing store. Recently we noticed that more and more people were calling and asking if they were hiring. I just thought, "in this economy, of all the places to be hiring, I would think a Vintage Store would be the least likely." So we brainstormed a bit and thought about other places Hipsters were likely to go to for employment that are definitely not hiring. I felt that I had to get Indie Cinemas in there, so I had to make a four part venn diagram, instead of three. Also without it, it wouldn't have worked out. Hopefully people can sense the tongue-in-cheekness of it, and I should point out that I am an unemployed Hipster too. Of course, I'm smart enough to know where NOT to look for employment, but still.


For the third installment of The Midnight Movie Society, it was held at a different venue, and showed Quadrophenia. Hadn't heard of it before, but after some light research on google images, I gathered that it's a film about Mods and Mod culture. I LOVE Mods! I would consider myself a faux-Mod, sans scooter and mini skirt. Anyway.

The big thing seemed to be the scooter, and from a few other things I saw around there, it was about the nitty-gritty of English suburbia, about rebellion and what-not. Mods were just the precursors to Punk. So, I threw in a crumpled up paper texture to give it a weathered look. The Mod bullseye was a given, and I did a live trace in Illustrator for the scooter. It wasn't my intention initially to show only part of the bike, but when I placed it into Indesign, it came that way, so it stuck. I opted to do a white poster instead of the black frame I did for the other two (different venue, different style). Much easier with small type, as in print, this was 3.75" wide.


:TRANSMISSION: 3rd Year Anniversary @ Club Jäger

Holy change-of-pace, Batman! Here's something quite unexpected from me. Wacky alignments, for starters. Big type treatments. I pulled my aesthetic, momentarily, about 30-40 years back.

I'm not going to say I tire of the more modern, 1960s bauhaus approach, I just feel that after a while, people will start to think that's all I'm capable of (and I'm not). And I wanted to see if I could channel an entirely different era of design, while still putting my stamp all over it.

So, I get the message from Jake that Transmission's anniversary with Jager is coming up, and he threw out a few ideas, one of them being "having a big 3," and immediately I knew what I was going to do.

See, I never sketch thumbnails. Never ever ever. I've also never met a designer or teacher who implores you to do thumbnail sketches, because they speed up your process. Well bollocks to that. This is how I design:

1. Get a subject
2. Create the design in my head
3. Execute design in Adobe programs, generating ideas as I go.

I'm a fast worker, especially in InDesign, so I find thumbnail sketches, really, to be a waste of energy. Plus I can never be as precise as I want.

(I will admit that one time thumbnails did get me on track to a great design, but that was in school, and I was required to sketch)

Anyway, last week I was really digging early soviet designs, constructivism, and Bauhaus design. So, I was like yeah, I'm going to do this all angle-y and what-not. Big 3, since that was the main point, and then just playing with alignments, and throwing in some lines.

See HERE for my inspiration. It's a New Order sleeve, but it's ACTUALLY a design by Depero Fortunato, a big name in the Italian Futurism movement.

I made this poster in 20 minutes, because of a couple reasons:

1. That's how I work, and
2. I collect inspiration daily, so I didn't even have to go looking for any. It was there, and ready.

{Tip for designers: Always be curious, always be looking for inspiration. Nothing in this world is new, nothing is original. In order to be creative, you need to steal creatively. Learn about other eras, about the importance of certain design movements. Collect, collect, collect. I have a folder on my computer of more than 500 images, all designs that I've collected, just whatever catches my eye. You can't imagine how much they've helped me.

For more on how my collection process works, see HERE. }

Jake ended up finding a few more reasons why the poster worked for a night (apart from it being based on a New Order sleeve), which was that it was reminiscent of a few other bands that employed the similar style. He also correctly identified that it was 1920's/socialist/propaganda influenced.

:2010: March

Muddy, muted colors, but with promise of spring to come.

:KING'S WINE BAR: Celebrating Eno

This one was definitely months in the making--without me even realizing it.

See back in the month of October I went through this phase where I was perfecting the craft of colored lines. The color strategy I originally had with this one went towards the Across The Board poster.

This started out as a fake Transmission poster. I thought if he ever had a Synth night coming up, I could use this scheme, because the lines are abstract and expressive, ambient, but also somewhat cold and technical--much like synth music is. The grey background and thin Futura type were also the same. Then this Brian Eno night came up (and a Synth night at Transmission DID happen, but there was not official enough for a poster).

Brian Eno is like, the godfather of Synthesizer music. He revolutionized it. I remember listening to an interview with him (also back in October) on the radio, where he talked about the Synthesizer being 1 of only 2 reasons he was able to get involved in the music industry (the other being the recording studio). I knew when Jake handed me this assignment, I already had my design pre-meditated, and all I needed to do was fill in the blanks. I think for anyone who knows anything about Brian Eno, they will see how this poster captures his essence perfectly.

:BRIT'S PUB: We Can Work It Out

I actually made this for Jake, not Brit's Pub officially (I just didn't know how to categorize it!). Basically, this sounded like the funnest night ever, and I was gutted I was not going to be able to attend.

The Beatles are by far the most important thing in my life EVER, so I was stoked I got to do a poster with them. Jake suggested maybe some mop tops, and from there I came up with this concept. It made me realize how much I actually suck at Illustrator. I don't do Live Trace, so the illustrations were done by hand, but, in the spirit of those Swinging Sixties, which was appropriate. I made their instruments into little Rock Band controllers, and finished it out with a sassy Union Jack. At first I really liked the textured background, but now I find it a little much. My thinking was an old poster you might've seen back in the day when the lads were playing a small club gig... Back before they became the biggest band ever.

Then this got put in vita.mn, but someone (I don't know who), made a whole lot of edits to it, which I was not too happy to see.

:THE MIDNIGHT MOVIE SOCIETY: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

Part II in the series. Concept was about 100x easier to come up with and execute in contrast to the previous one...

:2010: February

I guess I went a bit gimmicky with this one. It's a heart, see?
(I'm playing catch-up, as you can see)