06 June 2012

Marketing Design for Library Juneteenth Event 2012

Evolution of an event poster: from napkin concept, through steps of revisions.

In mid-March, I was asked to develop a new design for the Library's 2012 Juneteenth event. The librarian in charge wanted to have a concept in hand for a planning meeting she would be attending in mid-April, so I got to work.

I first looked over my last year's design to see what, if any design elements I might want to keep or avoid, then took a quick look around online for inspiration and to make sure I wouldn't come up with the exact same solution another person had used. My previous year's poster design incorporated a lot of text on it and I was willing to bet this year's would follow suit, so I kept in mind chances were good that whatever art I used would most likely have little room to compete with all the required language.

I decided that I wanted to keep the Juneteenth symbol, star, and its colours, of red, white, and blue. I also decided that since I used a historical image for last year's event, I should consider doing something more modern this time around. This led me to lean toward using bold, graphic elements and flat colour treatments.

I also wanted the imagery to connect on a more immediate, personal level than last year's did, so I considered using the human head as a backdrop. Due to its more round shape, I reconsidered that, and opted instead to use an outstretched arm, free of any chains, as if rising up toward the sun (or star in this case). Then I thought maybe the star could be IN the palm of the hand, as if it had finally caught the star (the promise). I liked that connotation and thought it would make for a strong visual, so I worked in that direction.

Also, if I worked out the proportions well enough, the arm could contain all of the text. Or, the text could even BE the arm. Looking at last year's poster as a guide to what text would be required, I sketched out a potential way I could make text as an arm happen. The resulting image is my "napkin art" concept.

I liked what I saw, so I thought I'd explore the possibility of the solution. I sourced for arms and hands both online and in my archive of images. After a little hunting, I found a few I thought I could use as a pattern to draw a new arm/hand from.

Working on the layout, I placed the main visuals in place and continued to modify them as I added text, squeezing and massaging everything into place. The result was the following image which I submitted to the librarian for consideration.

She liked it, but asked if I could modify it to include two arms. I thought it might get crowded and cause me to need to reduce the original arm, but once I got into the revision I realized both arms didn't have to be the same size, and that by reducing the size of the second arm/hand, it would provide for a sense of perspective. I thought the end result didn't diminish the power of the first arm and actually added more visual appeal it.

On the next edit pass, she asked for some text changes and to take away one of the two hands and make the remaining one holding a Juneteenth flag. "Well, here we are back to the literal" I thought, as I got to work. I didn't care to spend my time scouring the web for a hand holding a small flag exactly as I wanted it, so I simply took out my phone and snapped two shots of my own hand. It didn't matter what the actual photo looked like, only that the hand had the right shape. I would only be using the photo as a template to draw a silhouette of my hand. Once that was done, I replaced the existing arm/hand with the new arm/hand/flag. The new text was laid into place, but I didn't fuss with it too much because I knew it would change again. I sent it off and waited.

All of May passed until the 31st. I wondered where my edits were and sent off a message reminding the librarian that Juneteenth was only about two weeks away, and that if she was going to promote it in a timely fashion, she'd better wake up and send me any edits she had or approve what was already there. She sent in a revised list of entertainers. I reworked the arrangement of text so that it wouldn't be placed in a cascading fashion inside the arm because I didn't like the organization of text in that manner. Eventually, I was happiest to make a swap between location of the text and logos. With that finally in order, I sent the revision back to the librarian.

The final design applied to a variety of collaterals.
Next, she requested that I make sure a new supporter be added. I did, and sent the revision. Then she replied that there would be no raffle, that instead there would be door prizes. I made the change, and sent another revision. Eventually, after a painstaking and time consuming effort of attending to one...at...a...time....email revisions, and my request for her to finally give me the print quantity request, we were done with the flyer...50 printed and delivered.

In her print confirmation email, however, she also requested printing of handbills...an item she hadn't requested until now. I let her know only a flyer was designed and sent the prints off to her. She replied to ask for 125 handbills, and while she was at it, she requested an 11x17 inch poster too (basically, an enlargement of the flyer design). Despite the poor planning and request, each was easy to create, print, and ship within a short while.

A day or two later, another librarian related to the organizing of the Juneteenth event came by my office to laminate some staff ID badges he had made himself. He asked me about the collaterals that had been ordered to find out how many handbills and signs had been requested. He was surprised that only 125 handbills were ordered and that the single 11x17 inch sign should have been a about four 23x34 inch large format posters. He said he'd follow up with the first librarian to find out if additional items should be requested. I assured him that I'd be here, waiting...hopefully for more than one request at a time.
Additional 23x34 inch large format posters were created to display at the event.

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