For a long time in the design world, creating an album cover was the ultimate goal for many designers. But since the music industry has moved on, such a goal is not necessarily easy to tick off the bucket list. A small square on Spotify for album artwork just doesn’t have the same feel as a physically printed album.
Gig posters however are the opposite. Whether you’re an independent band playing a house show, or headlining a sold-out arena tour, gig posters are heavily used as part of an artist’s promotional material online and out in the physical world. They become collectible pieces of art that, much like old film posters, end up framed and displayed in our homes.
A while back I looked at the classic punk rock era of gig posters. They were full of bold lines and psychedelic colour schemes. Yet they still look incredibly relevant today regardless of what the latest design trend might be.
With gig posters it’s important to be creatively unique. Following a trend is how artists blend into the mainstream. In doing so their artwork becomes safe. Music makes bold statements on a daily basis and the artwork should reflect that. The rise in gig poster culture has seen significant changes in the standards and quality of designs making it the new album cover that designers add to their wish list.
Whether you’re an independent band playing a house show, or headlining a sold-out arena tour, gig posters are heavily used as part of an artist’s promotional material online and out in the physical world
“Most gig posters you see out in the world are limited-edition screenprints that only end up in the hands of the few” (Hayes, 2017). This is particularly true in United States, where their gig poster culture is thriving. Here in the UK, our physical gig promotion game is not as strong – and that’s a huge shame. “Although in some countries (particularly in western Europe) you still see a lot of posters, the internet has made it very quick, easy and cheap to spread information without going to the trouble of designing, printing and pasting something up” (Alderson, 2015).
The following collection of gig posters have inspired me creatively for various personal projects. The attention to detail in the illustrations constantly makes me want to work on my illustration skills. As much as I envy the talent of these designers, it is important to note that I do not wish to be these designers – and you shouldn’t either.
Gig posters are a great way to learn composition, layout, typography, illustration and even printing techniques. When it comes to design, these are all useful skills to continually develop. What better way to do so than with the fun of a gig poster or two?
Alderson, R. (2015). Posters: Is the writing on the wall?. [online] Bbc.com. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150707-posters-is-the-writing-on-the-wall [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].
Hayes, C. (2017). Gig posters volume 2. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books.