Sunday, September 8, 2013

ZBBG Poster for September 14th performance at UCLACC

Here is a new poster with a little bit of a different feel.
It utilizes a photograph that I took 2 Autumns ago, on the way back home from the Reclamation Exhibition I did at Hermitage in Virginia.
It was a place that sold jellies and salted hams and such, and they had this enigmatic pumpkin house out front.

I thought the photograph would be an exciting starting point for a poster. To me, it speaks of the thrill of the chill, that starts comin' on with Autumn.
Of course, as this the second to last show played at UCLACC, their is exciting new change in the air for this venue as well (they will be moving to PaperHand Puppet Intervention's 'olympia' down the road in Saxapahaw there after!)

No doubt, there is a rich patina of good music and community on the sanctified cinder block walls of that space. (in fact, i'll never forget when owner Marj handed me a marker at the end of a gig, and commanded yours truly to enscribe our mark on those very walls, a proud birth of the ZamBamBooGee logo...)

I hope I can get a good photo of the band on the bench in front of UCLACC.
That would make an even better poster, but in the mean time, I am liking this one, for its bright descending column/cascades of pumpkins, which, like some kind of jumbo beaded curtain, seem to sentry the entry of a semi-sacred space.


Friday, August 23, 2013

ZamBamBooGee- The Kraken Spring 2013

I recently had the chance to make a very special poster to honor a special event.

ZamBamBooGee was going to play a gig at the Kraken. And this warranted a poster.

For those not yet familiar, the Kraken, located at Dobson’s Crossroads, out on fabled Hwy 54, was for many years a biker bar. It has a rough hewn look to it, that makes it somewhat reminiscent of a Western saloon, say somewhere in the high Rockies. And with a cozy honky tonk feel, it is perhaps truest to the name roadhouse we have in these parts, these days.
Maybe for this reason, over the years, and maybe even more so in recent years, it has become a favorite place to play for area musicians. It came highly recommended to Scotty Young, our percussionist, guitarist, and harmonica player, who promptly lined up a gig over there.

While I had passed the place many times a few years ago, on way to bassist Jody McCall’s own music shack, when I was playing drums with him and Steve, and Rhonda Robichaux, I never did stop in.
But with our gig lined up for March 16th,, the prospect of realizing my dream of playing behind a chain link fence seemed finally within reach…

So this was exciting enough for me and the band, and the name the Kraken already had taken ahold, and had my imagination pretty well stirring..
Tentacles, oozing in and out of the view finder, curling through holes in rough wood, and lots and lots of beer.
Not to mention, that ZBBG keyboardist Sue Saunders and bassist Bruce Saunders, both hail from the Buzzard’s Bay/Hyannis area. Sue, bless her heart, will occaisionally cook for us to sustain us during practice, and often comes up with some steamy pot of seafood, say muscles (a plate of which is featured on a previous ZBBG poster!)

So, in desiging the poster, it seemed only appropriate to build on the legend of the Kraken, and my merritime band-mates’ proud origins, by incorporating some of this nautical imagery into the poster.

So I began to concoct something in black, sketching out my ideas on black paper in white conte crayon…

My plan was a pretty simple poster, 8.5” x 11”, drawn on the horizontal, a clear departure in every way from my ZBBG’s previous posters vertical, 11” x 17”. I’m not sure why, I guess I just felt like this event demanded its own particular feel.
Guess I was thinking straight forward rock poster, with the tentacle being the main feature. Eventally a horizon/ship suggested itself.
I had a thought to incorporate some of the Kraken bar’s rough hewn wooden feel in the background also, which (in the end) did come through a little bit in the sky, which has a scratched, wood grainy kind of texture. However this is mostly coincidence.

For the overall feel/tradition that I really wanted to cop was that of scrimshaw, which of course is the craft of sea faring sailors, whiling away the hours, by carving into whale teeth, and rubbing India ink into the cut crevices, in much the same manners as the tattoos of the time (perhaps as a gift for their sweety far away).
Thus I also wanted the border to reflect this tradition, using a pretty rudimentary motif of
X’s and O’s, as carved by a sailor’s crude pocket knife.  This was the essence of the feel, and I felt pretty sound about it.

But then fate contributed some interesting additions.
Apparently, local “indierockabilly” legend, Dexter Romweber called the Kraken, and inquired/offered if he could play the late night set that evening, an offer which they politely passed on to us. Normally we probably would have said “F U”, but hey, this was Dexter Romweber, a revered god of Rockabilly, so we said why not?

So while this was in fact a fortuitous turn of events, to add Dexter to the bill, this did put a little bit of a twist into things, because I wasn’t really sure how to incorporate his name into the poster design I already had. The design I had really necessitated having our name at the top, to function as part of the water surface. And who was the headliner, and did I need to consult Dexter?...And how could incorporate Dexter into the larger sea faring motif?...

While I had gotten a good start on the project well ahead of time, this little hitch was holding me up a bit, and the show date was starting to creep up on me.

I also had to locate some scratcher board, not so easy now that my only source, Studio Supply (RIP) had gone the way of many small, indipendant businesses in these times. My only resort/hope was the very Michaels that had probably put them under..
For better or worse, after much searching, they did have it.

And so one day, with pressure mounting, I left my landscaping day job early, and went and sat infront of Southern Rail for much needed beer, and a sit down with this looming, struggling poster concept. Coincidentally, there was a lot of inspiration to be found there, on the porch of Southern Rail, which I might have overlooked before, in late night drunken stipor…. A gorgeous Parisian sign in purple, black and gold. Posters set under glass of table. Very artful place, really.

And suddenly, turning a long hard look back to my poster, I realized that I wasn’t doing the poster enough justice, that I needed to up the ante, and go all out, springing for a whole / completely different format, one that did ample justice to the ideas that I was working out…

So I sketched out several major revisions on pieces of notebook paper folded in half on their vertical axis, to give me long, “deep”, narrow strips.

This tall format served to address a key concept at play in the poster, perhaps at the core of the Kraken Myth; that the Kraken lurks in, and emerges from, the inky black DEPTHS of the sea. And the fathoms of this sea are perhaps proportionally as deep as those of the imagination of a human being stranded out amid a vastness and power so great and belittling, as to make his very being quiver!

The more I considered this, the more I comprehended that to ignore this idea of depth in this inky poster, was not only a missed opportunity, but heresy!       

However, this choice was in many ways risky, because it meant that I would need to either
a)     shrink the entire thing down to fit this long narrow strip on the largest piece of scratch board that Micheals could provide (which, especially considering the task at hand, wasn’t very large at all…), Or..
b)    try to piece together two (or more) pieces, which would have been tedious to say the least..

In the end, after much back and forth, I opted for A. which allowed me to see my whole design at once, rather than imagining the two pieces as one composition.

The disadvantage of this approach, however, which proved to be a serious detriment to the execution of the design, was that it was very difficult to squeeze in the many letters of our long name into this narrow width. This did cost the quality of our name representation somewhat in the poster, however I was able to mitigate this to some extent, in photoshop, with some help from Photoshop Guru, and ZBBG Bassist, Bruce Saunders.
And furthermore, our name was to be clearly printed at the bottom of the poster, as our website address, where you might say it really mattered.

First, using a soft leaded pencil, I layed out the dimensions of the poster on my ‘plank’ of scratcher board (in fact, deviding it right down the middle, leaving me a “Plan B” on the other, unused, side- Scratcher Board is a very unforgiving medium).
I also layed out the center lines (which I always do).
I then block in with pencil also the general area of poster, attempting to leave enough space for the various lines of finer point text, which was somewhat tricky, as I was still writing these as I went!

I then went in with my exacto knife, lightly slicing and roughing in the images and lettering.

In laying it out, I generally worked my way down from the top to the bottom. But once I had everything pretty much in place and suggested in a light scratching, I was able to go back in, and further develop the various elements, moving around the piece at will, as different sections attracted/demanded my attention.


The top portion was a lot of fun.

Originally, I had thought to playfully substitute the water’s wavy edge for the horizon line. But rather late in the game, just in the knick of time actually, I decided to add it into the distant background.
Adding in a horizon line, of course helped the spatial believability of the image a lot (this almost always does). This also helped establish the sense of surface, which of course was crucial to the idea of depth, which was key as the eye moves down below..

The Cherub of Wind (or whatever he is), and the billowing clouds and sail, had all been part of the original design. However, as I sketched the redesign, and even well as I scratched into the board, these began to develop. I organized the clouds in a descending line, which helped to organize the clutter of this image-full section. And I added some ZZ Top sunglasses and styling to the Cheeky Cherub, a nod to the Kraken’s biker bar past.

While our ZBBG lettering was decidedly not fun (I had to sacrifice the necessary space to pull this off as I’d wanted to, for the vertical format)
The “The Kraken” lettering was a lot of fun.
I have always, since a kid, been a fan of those creepy/hoaky “Swamp Thing” kinds of letters, which are lit from below, lending a feel of eminent horror (exactly why I’m not sure). My lust for such lettering was recently given fresh juice by a marvelous book a friend just gave me of ‘custom lettering’ from the Sixties and Seventies. This fine tradition certainly worked its way into this poster as well, as seemed well befitting of Dexter Romweber’s rockabilly mystique.

Of course, I also really had fun rendering the various tentacles, both above and below.
One approach I chose in my treatment of these was to leave some details of the tentacles lost in shadow, which I think adds to the sense of lurking danger, and over all, I think, proved to be pretty effective.

And I have to say, think I made a fine addition to (actually a reduction of), lets just say an adaption of, the Kraken’s logo. Studying their website, I duelly used their craigy ‘stein’, complete with its ‘K‘ emblem. However, I reduced the writhing full-blown Kraken-in-a-Kup, to a more subdued and subtle single tentacle, hanging over the edge, like a frothy trail of beer suds, straight from the cask. This touch of subtlety might or might not suite the Kraken, but I thought it was a funny take to their logo.

One of the greatest compliments that I received that evening was from a source which I  happen to hold in very high esteem. And that is none other than pro Illustrator, Children’s Book Illustrator and Muralist, Stacye Leanza herself, who came out to the Kraken both to support us, and undoubtedly, toenjoy some of the action of the evening. Of course, Stacye and I are both respectively long time fans and collectors of one another’s poster art.
What she told me was that the area around the harpoon, FELT like the icy cold depths. This was exactly what I wanted this area to feel like. So the fact that this come through to her was very interesting!

In the end, I opted to use more X’s than O’s, not sure why. I reserved the O’s for next to Dexter’s name, which I had positioned right smack on the center line, which maybe help draw subtle attention and gravitas to it.
I also added some teeth the border motif, which was somewhat inspired by a friend Larry’s mock suggestion to use whales teeth (in an ironic twist to the scrimshaw tradition). Hopefully, the crudeness of these hashes and hacks captures some of the spirit of this tradition

More though, they were drawn from the skulls which I used as corner pieces, whose gaping mouths held the corners of the image’s body.
This addition was completely spontaneous; I have never used skulls in this way, nor have I ever seen them used in this way. Somehow though, the themes of danger and death that pervaded the poster suggested these. And as my latent high school obsession with drawing schools it seems is not as far behind me as I thought, I jumped at the chance to render these in carved white lines on black!

Interestingly, when I finally arrived at the Kraken to set up my drums for the show, I was tickled to discover that the Kraken is absolutely LADEN with skull imagery.
They peer out of every nook and crany, looking down from above the stage, on the interior walls of which hang the ‘Jolly Rogers’ flag of Black Beard, waving at us staggering across on its grog-spewn deck.


Our gig playing the Kraken was a lot of fun. (I can now see now why everyone wants to play at the Kraken).
Our crew (of various united crews) were there, Packin’ the Kraken, and they had a rip-roaring raucus time.
Among the BlueHeron Crew were some Woofers from Pennsylvania and Saudi Arabia.
Being on the road as they were, it seems to have been a fun adventure for them (maybe one of our wilder crowds yet..). And they liked us so much, one girl asked if we were going to come back and play later in the week! No honey, Bless your heart (as they say around here), I wish we were.

Most rewarding, the owner, Eric, asked if he could keep a copy of the poster, to mount in a showcase he was planning, to show exceptional poster art for Kraken shows. Of course I would be most honored.

Speaking of honors, I got to present Mr. Romweber himself with one of the posters.
And to a nice fan of his who had come down from Richmond to hear him play, I gave a smaller version as a birthday present (which her husband kindly gave me a handsome bill for).

My home girl Rebecca very sweetly took some footage of us playing one of our favorite songs, “SuperHard”. (LINK)

Thanks to Bruce (and Sue) Saunders for their patience in helping me get this thing through the digital gate. And thanks to Diane and Scotty for riding it out from there across the waves of the web.

Thanks to Caviness Printing of Siler City who did a marvelous job once again, and have upted the ante with their new lines of sustainable inks and papers.

Thanks to Josh Zaslow for his good feedback and encouragement with this poster, and to Kavi Rao for allowing me an impomptu space to work on it.

Thanks to Dexter, for joining us, and sharing his music and aura with us.

And thanks to The Kraken, for having us, for the beers, and for the inspiration.

ZamBamBooGee Poster- Ring In The New Year

For ZamBamBooGee’s performance at the Pittsboro Roadhouse and General Store’s 2012 New Years Eve Party, Pittsboro, NC

One of my favorite and most exciting graphic design projects of 2012, coincidentally, came at that year’s culmination.

The newly reopened Pittsboro Roadhouse And General Store had just that summer invited us to play for the grand reopening of their new restaurant. (In fact, some thanks and credit should probably go to the keen ear of local music Legend Tommy Edwards, who has been assisting this venue with booking). For this momentous occasion and honor, I had also seen fit to concoct a noteworthy poster (LINK)

But now, via Tommy and the Roadhouse Crew, came another special opportunity-
An invitation to come and play the coveted New Years Eve party at the Roadhouse.

No doubt, such a nomination to herald in the New Year at the newly reformed Pittsboro Roadhouse, with their good, food, staff and guests, and our fans and music was such a great peach of an honor, that indeed it certainly warranted a special poster to commemorate the event.

And for such a poster, I had just the idea….

You see, we our band, ZBBG practices at the home of Bruce and Sue Saunders, who regularly, graciously open their home to us.
And the halls of this home, indeed the very walls of it, are ‘encrusted’ in the jewels of Bruce Saunders’ making.

Since the 1960’s, Bruce has been creating mandalas that draw the viewer in, and set them down in a state of inspiration and serenity. Bruce used to hand draw and color these, and mount them on circular disks of wood, and sell them on the streets of Berkeley, during the height, and right at the epicenter of, the Cultural Revolution, which ripped through the West Coast 50 years ago (and has only just now arrived in Siler City…).

And, as he did some 50 years ago, Bruce still begins these mandalas by hand.
Yet, now, changing with the times, Bruce has harnessed the awesome power of the digital, just a twinkle in Steve Job’s eye in the 60’s (probably around the corner).
And with this tool, Bruce weaves imagery of every kind into his mandalas, the likes of which I have never seen. To get a peek, check out www.New Earth

As a regular guest at the Saunders’ household, I enjoy the rare pleasure of getting to watch an ever-moving flow of these images pass across the walls of their home.
I have been enamoured by my, and have really fallen in love with a few.

One that really knocked my socks off, you sees on the poster before you.

I’m not sure exactly when or how the idea came to me.

To me, the image was just so resonant. It seemed to be a depiction of resonance and vibration itself.

And so it was this artwork that I wanted to use, as an emblem for that which I thought we could offer to the people of Chatham County- the chance to ceremoniously ‘Ring in the New Year”.

Part of the Challenge was getting our logo together.
This had been something that I had been developing for a long time, really since we first decided on the name Zambamboogee.
I just started playing around with it, on paper, and it really came almost instantly.
This logo got its very first chance to peek its head out and shine at UCLACC.
After our long and cathartic gig there, once our many fans had filtered on out the door,, Marj placed a heavy black permanent market in my hand, and invited me to sign our name on the walls of that great institution.
Now, at that point in the evening, I thought that I was pretty well wrung out of creative energy like a sponge. But with some high spirited encouragement of my bandmates, I stood upon a chair, and proceeded to lay that logo’s lettering out in its debut to the world. Jah Bless Marj and my good bandmates, for what was, for me, one of the more glorious moments in my graffitti career.

So, getting a hand drawn logo up on cinder block is one thing. Getting it digitized and onto a poster another….

Stayed up late at Bruce and Sue’s

Of course, another part of the design process was obtained all of the up to date information about the event from the Venue, as well as their logo to use. Nicole and Amber were both great to work with in supplying me with these.

It was a little bit of a challenge for me to place the Roadhouse’s round logo in the black poster, as it has a square around it, particularly as Photoshop is not my native program.
However, with Bruce’s help, I was able to devise a way to cover this witeness, which in the end worked even better than I expected.

Diane and Scotty took it a step further, and got bumper stickers made.

Reputedly, this poster was coveted by storeowners such as Tony Sullivan (of Sullivan’s Music, also on the circle) and (mostly deservedly) Tommy Edwards, who helped to arrange the gig. I think that it is interesting that musicians responded so strongly to Bruce’s image. I think I would chalk this up to essence of it, which is the notion of vibration, which of course is the material that musicians work in, the means by which they ply their trade. (a visual communication by a musician (Bruce) that other musicians recognize?)

Speaking of plying trades, I need to take a moment to do a little bit of self-agrandizement /promotion (isn’t that what you were already doing? you might ask..).

Part of what I believe makes this event poster as strong as it as (and coveted, and thus rembered), besides the use of Bruce’s strong imagery, is the mating, the synthesis of meaningful words and images, into conceptual whole, whose parts work well with one another, and speak to their intended audience.

I think it is important to recognize this element of a good design, as apposed to a bad design, which is conceptually somewhat jangled and disjointed, and as a result, comes across as such.

This ‘robustness’ of concept; a seamlessness of words, images and ideas, is what I am always striving for in graphic design. It is at the pit of what I believe I hope to offer as visual communicator.

Was a huge success. We managed to help the Roadhouse sell out, and packed the house with ZBBG  and Roadhouse fans!
And we had a blast! We all really ‘Rolled out the barrel of fun’! (as Joey Howell led us in singing).
Many thanks to the Roadhouse for hosting this party for the community, and keeping it affordable! It was a night to be remembered!

ZamBamBooGee Poster- Downtown Sounds Of Siler City- March 2012

For this poster, I began with the template that I had created for Siler City's 3rd Friday Music Series.
As I described in a previous post, the idea of this was to brand the music series with a consistant series of posters that sponsors was want to add their name to the bottom of.
Into this general poster template, I inserted a composite image that ZamBam Bandmate and Photoshop guru Bruce Saunders helped me to create.

The image started with a photo of a plate of muscles that ZamBamBandmate Sue Saunders had generously cooked up for the band, sharing a bit of sea shore upbringing with us.

Bruce sprouted our heads

Me, being the landlubber I am, though they were oysters, and so I was playing loosely on the idea of pearls, and bad oyster trips, with the 'Moov Enhancing Grooves'  tag line at the bottom.

ZamBamBooGee Poster- Pittsboro Roadhouse Grand Opening

After I posted the recent poster for my band, ZamBamBooGee's upcoming performance at Carolina Brewery, I realized that I am delinquent and tardy in posting the slew of other posters that I have had the honor to create for these momentuous events (often working in tandem with artist and ZBBG bassist, Bruce Saunders).

So I figure, I had better play catch up!
And what better place to start, than from the start!

The poster you see here I drew up to celebrate a performance occassion that was special to us in ZamBamBooGee on a number of levels.

The event was the grand opening of the Pittsboro Roadhouse and General Store, in Pittsboro, NC.
Now, if you are from Chatham County, or maybe even if you are from another place nearby,
you will know that this venue has historically been a critical gathering place in Chatham County, for the last say 30 years...

To appreciate this poster, it is important to get a little bit of background...
I don't know the venue's entire history, save that it was once an auto shop of some kind, and then maybe a healthfood store, and then a really sweet cafe and restruant.
What I liked about it was that you could go in and grab a key lime soda on a hot day, but they would also be holding fancy dinners and fundraisers in the back for local nonprofits.
They hosted alot of great bands from the area, and showed a lot of art.
All in all, the space was a major treasured resource for a 'scene' in Chatham County that has been (and still is) rich in community.
Tragically, the venue had to close. It seemed that, for all of the richness that their expansion provided, economically, it was just too much for a struggling economy to bear.
When those doors closed, we all felt a cold shudder, realizing we had lost not just a good restruant, but an important connecting point.

Fortunately, miraculously, about a year later, a nice family, Greg and Maria, who already ran a catering business (Catering By Design) in nearby Cary, decided to revive the establishment, bringing their own take and style sensebilities to the venue. And their vision was The Pittsboro Roadhouse. While this title was probably puzzling to Chatham county's more rural population, who might consider being on the circle of 'Circle City' to be about as downtown as you can get (and ok, they have a point), I had to admire the flair of this vision (which interior designer, Ricky Lindley played on with relish).

And SO, when ZamBamBooGee, who practices up off of Hwy 87, out towards a REAL roadhouse (UCLACC), was invited by Tommy Edwards to have the honor of performing an innaugrual gig for the opening of the new venue, it was an oppurtunity that we treasured as a band, and that I relished as a poster artist...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

ZamBamBooGee Poster- Carolina Brewery 2013- Neo Bauhaus Poster Design?...


    ZamBamBooGee has a gig coming up at a local Brewery (Carolina Brewery), and we needed a poster. So I decided to employ a particular photo that I had taken in Germany last fall, and had been saving for just such an occassion...


    You can just feel the life giving warmth pouring off of this manhole cover. And I don't know about you, but for me, just looking at it makes me want to sit in a sunny biergarten, and drain a few tall hefewiesen while simultaneously soaking up the sun...

     Originally, I had planned to use our normal ZamBamBooGee logo, which features a much more flowing style. And I do think that it would have compimented this earthly sun disk very handsomely, enough so that I might have to use them together in a subsequent design...
    However, in the end, for this poster, I decided to stick with a font that was strictly, yet playfully, German in character- what else but "Bauhaus"?
 (after all, as I can atTEST from OctoberFEST, it is good to see German's enJoying themselves!) 

     And indeed, I had a lot of fun playing with the tight radial curves of this font, most notably the circular motif that its period provided, which harmonzed well with the design of the manhole cover. This became especially fun in placing these dots before and after the "ZamBamBooGee" at the top, playing with the black dot motif that the manhole cover's negative spaces provided. Every ting seemed to be lining up according to plan...Black holes, sun disks, manhole covers...."Zis ees sownding like a bik cosmic ting to me, ja?"

(please not the diagonal sequence of 3 yellow dots extending from the top right corner down and across to the bottom left corner. Zis ees zee geshtalt ofe ein "Z", ja? 

All in all, I feel like this is a pretty subtly succinct poster graphic, one that my more Germanic forbearers would nod at approvingly ;)     


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bling for my booth

I have been Graphic Designing my ass off, getting ready for the Festival For the Eno.
I've decided that this year, for a change, I will get all of my marketing materials- signage, hangtags, postcards, etc., together on the front side, while there is still plenty of time, instead of as an after thought, when it is kinda too late!

Maybe I'm just trying to be a better client to myself. I feel quite confident that I will pay myself back for this good behavior in spades!