27 February 2011

Library Poetry For Children Events

Poster-sized 23x34 inch visuals for poetry reading events for pre-schoolers.

Just to be fair, let's not forget where building the appreciation of language begins: with the children. I've shown promotional collaterals for adults and teens, but the library hasn't overlooked younger children, nor should I. The library holds poetry reading for pre-school children aged 5 and under and I'm not above developing materials for the younger set too.

On-site requirements are often less complicated than for collaterals needing to be shown prior to an event. For on-site poetry reading events, youth service librarians like to include a 23x34 inch poster that shows the words of a poem being recited. Usually, they only show the words; sometimes they might include a small piece of clip art. They often create these in Microsoft Word or Publisher and print them out. Occasionally, I'll help out either with the printing or by developing a more involved visual. Above is an example where I helped to develop easel-held posters that would be displayed in front of an audience where the librarian would lead the event.

Expressions: Open Mic

Okay, teens in Hawthorne had four weeks for their poetry workshop, but what about adult patrons? The Headquarters Branch offers an on-going weekly program called Expressions: Open Mic. There, patrons can recite poetry, freestyle, or read from their favourite book. I understand that the events are consistently attended by between 10-20 people. That's a pretty good following, I'd say. I mean, how many poets can you pull out of the woodwork on a weekly basis? I suspect that it is a good testing ground for poets and linguists to try out their stuff in a small and friendly group setting to see how they're doing with their writing--perhaps not only to share and take the temperature of how their work is received publicly, but to also get constructive ideas and suggestions on how to continue developing their work.

Expressions: Open Mic uses a simple, old fashion microphone with some light effects as its identity. Keeping it simple allows for the multiplicity of actions related to the program to be attached to the visual without trying to spell it all out to the viewer. Sometimes, less is more; this is a challenging concept to those who want to itemize out the complete story visually. 

Sometimes, it is easier just to say it with words, rather than draw it with an image. That's what poets do. Paint a picture with words more robust than images ever could.

This program was promoted through 8.5x14 and 8.5x11 inch signs, as well as quarter-page handbills.

The Language of Love...or The Love of Language

While we're talking about Valentine's Day and "the month of love," I'm reminded of an identity and ad I developed for a poetry writing workshop that ran for a few weeks last September. Cheri's Poetry Workshop For Teens was a series of workshops where they came together to work on developing poetry. 

When I first received the work request that said "Writing with a beat at Cheri's Poetry Workshop" I wondered what exactly were they doing there. Were they writing while being inspired by someone drumming, or was there music involved? If so, I could explore working symbols of music notes, a musical instrument, or a metronome into a design. I inquired and found out none of those were the case. I realized it was simply referring to reciting poetry with a pace, in a cadence that produced a "beat." So, this invisible thing...how to show it?

I thought on it a while and eventually recalled how karaoke helped singers to sing lyrics of a song by following a ball that bounced over the top of the lyrics that scrolled along at the top or bottom of a television screen. This bouncing ball provided a great element to demonstrate the beat of a song and related lyrics, so I applied the convention to identity and promotional materials I created for the workshop.

A small ball bounced along the top of the identity; the letter "T" repeated throughout the words was highlighted in colour that increased from a "distant" dark red for smaller "T's" to a brighter orange on the last, larger "T". All the other letters were dropped back in a lighter shade of gray that allowed the coloured letters to stand out more. Stopped at the end of the sentence was a period, red in a nod to the active, larger bouncing red ball that was still on its way to the end of the sentence. And sweetest of all, hidden within the phrase: "Writing With a Beat at Cheri's Poetry Workshop" was the lettering gem that could be highlighted in it's own colour: "BE A POET." Depending on the arrangement of the words, there were three "A's" to choose from to make for smooth reading.

This visual identity was used on signs, handbills, and as a library web ad.

For the Love of...February

With all that was going on with Black History Month and other promotions, you might have thought I forgot February was also the month of romance, right? Impossible! Why? Because this year, the city of Gainesville was ranked No. 9 in the United States by Amazon.com's "Romance Scale." How is this possible? Well, you'll just have to read it from them and an article in the local newspaper that reported on it. 

If you were as clueless as I was about this distinction, then you'll be happy to know that I was asked to create two posters to help bring attention to the notoriety and our own library statistics that helped to support the ranking. See below for yourself:

Two 20x30 signs were created to be displayed on easels in the library.
Not only that, but our youth services librarian hosted an event for teens to make Valentine's Day cupcakes. For this event, I created 8.5x11 signs and quarter-page handbills that looked like the image below:
Quarter-page handbills used a reduced image of the 8.5x11 inch sign. 
Of course, I also produce a series of calendar event signs every month, and for this month I developed signs that featured roses, candy hearts, chocolates, and cupid. Only one of our branches had a Chinese New Year event planned, so for that branch I even included a visual for that holiday--still within the "couple's theme"--by having a traditional Chinese New Year boy and girl. 
A selection of 11x17 inch monthly event signs--each library having its own custom variation on the theme.

February, A Banner Month

Two banners produced for Millhopper Branch Library.
February was a banner month, so to speak. One librarian from the Millhopper branch library wanted to create a banner to include as part of a display she was developing for Black History Month. The words "Black History is..." was all that she needed written on it and asked that I make it about 15 feet long by 1 foot deep. She said the area it would be displayed may be a little little dark, so using a bright colour might be a wise choice. The rest was up to me. 

I went through my clip art and selected a simple black/white vector graphic banner, intensified an image of a wood or parchment surface in photoshop to give it a golden appearance--which I hoped would stand out from a distance--and imported it into the center panel of the banner. I then coloured the other areas of the banner to compliment the center panel, printed, and shipped it out. 

When the librarian saw it, she sent me an email: "I love everything about that banner you sent me. I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s just what I need. You must be psychic because I was planning on using gold ribbons for my display. It will fit perfectly! Thank you so much."

Fortunately for me, it appears my ESP was strong that day.

Another Millhopper librarian requested a banner about the same time. This one was to use as part of a display to highlight winners of the 2011 YALSA competition. I didn't want to use the same banner shape I had just used on the first banner, so I sourced for and selected another black/white vector banner that was less straight and angular. I typed the required words into the banner using the same curvature as the banner itself. Not knowing much about the awards which included six different competitions, I sourced for images of the awards themselves and worked them into a graphic below the banner that included the name of each competition and what they were for. It turned out to be perfect for what was needed, both in terms of information and dimensions.

About the same time as I was producing these banners, another banner request came in, this time to create a "going away" banner for one of the employees that was soon to be deployed by the army out to the middle east. I took the same banner as the one used for YALSA and imported a camouflage image into it. It looked good, but the printer couldn't handle it, so I had to go back to using a solid colour in it. I added some stars to give a nod to the military, and it did it's own duty. Three banners up, three banners down.

At the end of February, I drove to  the Millhopper branch to see the banners in their final environment and share an image of them with you below. 

21 February 2011

Black History Month Event: Sacred Steel

One of our Black History Month events, Sacred Steel, will include a LIVE steel guitar performance by two musicians. This looks to be an awesome event, and one I'm looking forward to go to myself. The program was initiated by one of our Tower Road branch librarians, who managed to get it funded and sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council. The event relates to a book by the same name, authored by Robert Stone who spent years covering the tradition of using steel guitar music as part of Pentecostal church services. 

For publicity, I took the front cover of the book (see image above; left side was the book cover) and cloned the background texture to extend it further out so I could superimpose additional text onto an 8.5x11 inch flyer. 50 copies were printed for distribution. 

After that, the same image was used to produce quarter page handbills. 25 pages of those were printed. A library homepage web ad was also created as well, using the photograph portion of the image, with the words "Sacred Steel" superimposed over it. Oh happy days! I'm feelin' the power already!

You can read a complete review about Robert Stone on the ACLD website here: http://www.aclib.us/about/blog/sacred-steel-inside-african-american-steel-guitar-tradition 
and here:

ADDENDUM: I went to the event on Saturday, and enjoyed watching / listening to a demonstration of the steel guitar, performed by father / son team of Elton and Tieone Nobel. Author Robert Stone provided some historical background about the use of the steel guitar in Penticostal churches and took questions from the audience. I enjoyed it so much that I bought one of the music CDs that were being sold and spent part of my Sunday listening to the tunes. Oh happy days!

08 February 2011

Black History Month Display

The display poster is comprised of many individual pieces.

We managed to get organized and get up our Black History Month display at the Headquarters Library today. I must say, I was really pleased with it and was getting compliments on it before it even made it up on the wall. 

I printed this wall display design in three large pieces: the center quilt image on one large format sheet, and the background quilt frame--cut horizontally across it's length--in two sections, top and bottom. Next, I printed out 8.5x11in biographical information pages that I pinned overtop the background quilt image and further out onto the bulletin board wall. Each bio page had a length of real yarn that attached to a stick pin on both ends, tracing a path from the bio page to the photo of the person it belonged to.

We will also include a "vote" box, wrapped in the same quilt design (but with no profile photos on it), to ask patrons to offer their suggestions on who they think would be a good person to add to the quilt. Once we tally up some votes, we plan to substitute some existing profile photos and bios with newer ones to keep the display constantly changing and interesting.
Mapping out display elements in the art room during production before hanging.
Pre- and post-stringing with yarn to connect profile photos to their bio pages.

Library Event, Black History: Outside the Book

Left: poster/sign design. Top right: handbill design. Bottom right: ad.
Continuing with the Black History Month events at the libraries, the Headquarters Library planned an event that included storytelling, singing, dancing and other activities. I was tempted to try to show each of these activities by using photos from last year's event, but the photos were not very appealing, plus they would require model releases to be used. 

Too much work for poor quality images, I thought, so I investigated using silhouettes of people's figures performing these activities instead, and import the quilt image into them, same as I had done with the Star Center Children's Theater design as shown on my earlier blog post. Searching out silhouettes took a while--and I found some--but I can't say I was particularly thrilled with them, nor the aspect of how to put them all together into a satisfying design.

That's when I was reminded that when you're trying to tell too much all at once, it is often a better solution to not get caught up in the multiplicity of the story, and focus on a more simple, comprehensive visual idea. The quilt motif already had the concept of multiplicity woven into it, simply by virtue of the variety of people on display. There were activists, politicians, inventors, educators, athletes, and humanitarians all. The quilt was already communicating diversity even if it wasn't specifically displaying the activities of storytelling, singing, and dancing. 

I presented my view to the librarian requesting the publicity for the event and he agreed. "We should have just used the quilt in the first place," he reassured me. I sure was thankful for that! So with the green light on leveraging the existing quilt motif for his event, I moved forward to create the following items:

One large format display poster
Two 11x17in signs
60 quarter page handbills
One black/white newspaper print ad

Black History Month Children's Play

The 8.5x11in sign. Handbills also looked the same.
Black History Month events are well underway at the ACLD libraries. As shown in my earlier blog post, you can see on the back of the 8.5x11in flyer just how many events are taking place.

At the Headquarters Library, an event was planned to be staged (literally) by the Star Center Children's Theater, a play entitled Tribute to Black History. I was asked to come up with a visual to promote the event on an 8.5x11in sign and quarter page handbills.

Because I had developed the quilt to be the central design motif to be applied to all the events, I wanted to utilize it in some fashion for this event as well.

Right off, I wanted to show a stage with curtain backdrop to "set the scene" for this theatrical event. Next, I wanted to find a way to work the quilt image in. While looking for stage backgrounds, I kept coming across movie theater stage screens that had the old dancing hot dog and soft drink on them, and that gave me the idea to place the quilt up on stage. So I found a good curtained stage and set my quilt up on it. 

Next, I decided that I wanted to play on the "star" idea by using a literal star dancing alongside the quilt. The star was meant not only to imply an actor on stage, but also to elude to the "Star Center Children's Theater." 

But I knew a plain star alone still needed that little something extra, so I decided to have the same star image cut out of the quilt shape, as if it had leapt out of the quilt--literally making history come alive on stage and taking place not in the past but now, in the present. The star had the quilt image contained within it and the larger quilt had a hole in it where the dancing star jumped out of. 

The idea is that the quilt--and black history by extension--isn't simply a relic of the past; it is continually being added to in the present. We are all part of this story, weaving our own new chapters into this history every day.