Assignment 3 – Poster

The learning log post associated with this assignment is

Assignment 3 – Poster

My Sketchbooks are all scanned and uploaded onto pages

Event Poster

This assignment asked me to develop an illustration for a poster for an event through a process of ideas generation, development and refinement to find a form that ‘best communicates [the event]’.

The initial ideas generated ‘white water rafting’ as an analogy for the process of performing ‘free jazz’ – unscripted musical performance. The idea I wanted to get across was the uncertainty and the freedom of the genre.

There was another idea that emerged concerned with the bond  between musician, instrument and music which was to express itself in the one of the versions of the poster.

I made mood boards from ideas generated about floating and freedom

I used a Pinterest board to help collect images after this, focussing on ‘surfing’ as the perfect analogy for a fee jazz musician trying to ‘ride the wave’:

Pinterest Board for Assignment 3

…and I continued to collect reference imagery about

  • the instruments
  • how jazz is represented
  • how musicians are imaged
  • aspects of the specific instruments involved
  • eccentric ideas like the millenium footbridge at St Paul’s / Tate crossing actually being a double bass because of its ‘strings’
  • snowboarding (is this better than surfing?)


Surfboarding continued to be the best fit as it draw in ideas about power, skill, luck, ‘coolness’, awesomeness and many almost indescribable metaphors about control, the illusion of control, lack of control and the big ‘wipeout’ in the future… living in the moment and forgetting about everything else. Surfing has a well established set of concepts that I wanted to draw upon and give them to this poster.


Partly inspired by the (most difficult) exercise in the course of abstract drawing inspired by listening to specific music I explored my other ideas about being at one with the music. The floating ideas were rooted in a journey with no destination – drifting and the word ‘free [jazz]’ being ‘free fall’ – orbit and weightlessness.

I’m using the word ‘abstract’ where perhaps I shouldn’t is there is structure… it’s just not out to represent things in an objective way by in a non-real representation.

The development grew from very simplified and stylised representations of the musicians and their instruments in a ‘floating’ mode.

The Two Line Visuals

These investigations eventually came down to these two line drawings. I received some reactions from friends and associates about them and the surfing version was the overwhelming favourite. One person went so far as to say that she found the abstract version ‘creepy’ because of the human/instrument meld.

Putting off the least amount of people is one way to make an advertising decision.

In my mind at this point I found that the ‘abstract’ message was less clear – there was a possible confusion about what it meant for the instruments to be playing themselves… and the flute does have extra creep factor.

The surf image, conversely, is rather ‘raw’, ‘affirming’ and ‘powerful’. It draws on a simple image idea that is graspable.

Some people did analyse the two images and could decipher the content of both, but on balance the surfing image produced ‘Likes’ and other unqualified emotional responses whereas the abstract image only provoked ‘analytical’ responses, which were mostly positive.

It would have been very hard not to take the surfing image forward at this point – it had struck a chord.

Colour Mock Up

During the course of exploring how I was going to approach the colour I found that I had created the wave image using acrylic paint. This became part of the final artwork but was available to use in the colour mock-up.

I created one with and one without the text because I felt the text was actually making the image look worse.

The note in the wave was dispensed with at this point as it seemed to have nothing to say visually. It was disrupting the otherwise pleasing curve of the wave but its message wasn’t totally clear.

Final Artwork

Poster Artwork with Text 03

Continuing the success of acrylic paint used with pallet knives I created textures for the instruments [I later discovered that I had used Oil paint by accident for these bits] and elected to use Photoshop to pull together all of the separate components.

The Figures where drawn (about actual size for an A3 print of this) using fineliners on cartridge paper.

The texture was painted onto black sugar paper using pallet knives and acrylic paint.

The shapes of the instruments were finally created in Photoshop using the selection and masking tools to construct the right shapes, and using the textures and a touch of shading to make the instrument shapes.

I looked at making the text components as an illustration but they never looked as smart as the in-built ones.


The strength of this illustration comes from the use of dynamic angles; motion, action and excitement are invoked by the perilous scene – surfing a big breaking wave. Looking back it might be that the composition details from my line visual are slightly better overall to the final work and this may have been caused by the way that the figures were drawn on their own, isolated from the wave and the poster frame. I perhaps should have controlled their relative scale and positioning in a better way.

I’m not convinced about the text being the best it could be for this. It works nicely to be a contrast – neat straight edges against the chaos – but I’m sure there’s more to consider to make it a more interesting read.

I feel like I’ve experienced new things about the use of acrylic paint. I have seen a few artists use it in a ‘sculptural’ fashion very recently and not using brushes, only pallet knives, has been pivotal. During this assignment I had to focus on producing the kind of colour and texture I had in my mind for the wave – something ‘rough’ and ‘untamed’. The acrylic paint definitely contributed to the nature of the final outcome.

Later I accidentally used Oil paint instead ofAcrylic. This was really nice to use but at the time I thought I was using acrylic (no sense of smell, obviously). Both paint types were great and I shall have to make sure I read the tubes more carefully in future.

Final work: Photoshop document A3 at 300dpi (plus 5mm bleed allowance on all sides – above images are to crop marks); Digital lettering; Fineliner on white paper (scanned); acrylic paint on black sugar paper (photographed); oil paint on black sugar paper (photographed).