I try to always complete projects as fast as I can as you never know what might come down the pipe tomorrow that you’ll want to fit it in.
Last June I was getting ready to shut it down for the day when I saw a new email from Tim Baker of the band Hey Rosetta!. The subject line read “Trippy Triptych” and definitely caught my interest. I’ve worked on the layouts for a couple Hey Rosetta!’s albums (Into Your Lungs, and A Cup of Kindness Yet) as well as a few tour posters. They’re from my home town and I’m proud to say I’ve become friends with them over the years and they’re the best ambassadors this province could ever hope for (REALLY good people).
Tim’s email outlined an idea to depict a Rube Goldberg style machine in a single poster triptych image that would represent various milestones in Hey Rosetta’s first decade as a band. I could picture it immediately and as I read through some of Tim’s ideas I knew this would be a beautiful and amazing poster…. but the band’s tenth anniversary was in early August and I was booked with projects well in to early September. No!!!!
I expressed to Tim that I couldn’t do it right away, but if he was willing to wait, I knew we could make an amazing poster. Usually what happens in this situation is the client moves on and finds a designer that is immediately available.
One of the hardest aspects of working solo is having to say no to projects when you can’t fit them in. Last year I had to pass on a projects for Fleetwood Mac and Death Cab For Cutie. I wish I could have done them, but the deadlines were too tight. Most clients don’t have the luxury to wait for your schedule to open up, so keeping flexibility in your day for last minute jobs is something I recommend to new designers. Its a hard thing for most of us to actually make happen as we want to stay busy and you can’t leave your days open in anticipation that someone might call. I’ve lost dozens, if not hundreds, of amazing projects that I wanted to work on over the years due to deadlines that were too tight for me to make work. :^(
Anyway, I’m off topic (or am I?), Tim agreed to wait a couple months and in August, the week of the band’s 10th anniversary, we met at my studio to start sketching ideas. The overall thought was, while the images didn’t have to be scientifically sound, we did want the triptych to appear as though it could work. These aren’t to be just random items thrown on a poster, they should appear as tho they could interact with one another – a much more difficult feat when you consider that we were using self-referential items that hold significance for Hey Rosetta! in their 10 year design journey (images taken from the bands album graphics, t-shirt designs, poster art, videos and more). We sketched for over three hours, discussing back and forth how the mechanics of each idea would work and how each step would lead to the next.
I was preoccupied with creating a sense of balance so the poster would be visually beautiful, and not just a blue print to some maniacal machine. After many iterations our poster was looking pretty sharp – we had a plan! It was a gorgeous summer day and time to put the pencils down.
A couple days later I began illustrating each item and placing them on my poster. It took awhile, three to four times as long as a standard poster usually takes me. While the items look really simple, I was trying to represent the original band albums, posters and shirts as clearly as possible (the band has hired a bevy of amazing designers and illustrators over the years including Sydney Smith, Mark Bennett and Derek Broad among others, and I wanted to make sure I stayed true to their original works as they all did such a great job helping shape the image of the band). I sent updates to Tim, partially for feedback since this was his initial concept, but also just to let him know that I was working on it so he didn’t think I was off at the beach wasting time or something. :^)
When the basics of the illustration were nearing completion I started considering colours. I had added a vintage map style border, so I went with classic, almost antique looking colours.
Finally it was done. Tim had a couple last minute thoughts which made it in to the final version and then we were off to print. The band had a big 10th anniversary tour starting in Los Angeles in less than two weeks so we needed to get these printed quickly. We entrusted the screen printing duties to my good friends at Pink Eye Prints. They knocked it out of the park (as always)!
We were down to the wire so I raced home with the posters from Pink Eye and starting signing and numbering each one. Then, at 4:30 in the morning, only an hour or so after I had finished packaging them up for safe travel (a custom cardboard box so sturdy you could drop it down the side of a building and still not dent a corner – or so I hoped…) I made my way to the airport to meet the band. They were flying out on the first flight and if I met them I could hand off the posters in person rather than shipping them by courier to Los Angeles. I’ve read about screen print artists that have flown their posters and delivered them in person to the band, just to turn around and fly directly home immediately. Crazy.
In the end, the 10th Anniversary Hey Rosetta! posters were a big hit. Not available online you could only get one at the band’s concerts. They were selling so well that the band had to hold back copies in order to make sure they’d still have some left when they landed back home for their series of sold out Christmas shows.
The final poster design has 25 Hey Rosetta! references, and two separate Goldberg-esque machines, follow the numbers to see one, and the letters for the other.
I was very happy that the band were able to wait the extra couple of months as this project was so much fun to work on. It was nice to play a small role in commemorating the band’s 10th anniversary and their North American tour.
Edition of 250 (click image to enlarge)
Other posters I have designed for Hey Rosetta! are shown over on my portfolio site at www.judhaynes.com