During my junior year of college in my design class I was tasked with making a poster, there were a few stipulations, but overall I had free reign to make a poster on whatever I chose. So, I decided to turn my gaze to the Ministry of Playwriting, a writing group I headed up in high school that still occasionally met. We were talking about releasing a book of some of the more coherent writing warm-ups and short scripts we made, and I decided that when this theoretical book was published we’d have a theoretical reading from that book. So, here’s the process behind the creation of the very real poster to all of these theories.
Firstly, I decided that I wanted to hand make this poster, mostly because one of the signature styles of the Ministry was it roughness and its unpolished nature. Many of our warm ups featured instantly incorporating something into a script regardless of whether or not it would fit (resulting in multiple bus crashes and giant squids int he middle of emotional dramas). I also decided that it would be interesting to create the poster on top of script pages from our write-ups, after all this was a reading from the Ministry of Playwriting, why wouldn’t our poster highlight our writing?
This first poster has a few issues. FIrst, I was originally thinking about using hand made stamps to create the type on the poster. Well, I found out that firstly almost every letter stamp I made would come out backwards (and I was all out of stamp foam), and second I found out that all of the stamp type would come out almost entirely illegible. Also, for the general format of the post I wanted to invoke both mid-century modern but also the work of Tandori Yokoo. Unfortuantely during critiques I found that going for an almost direct translation resulted in the conveyance of the idea of “No Japan”, which is nowhere near anything I believe. So, I decided to take what worked from this design, scrap the rest, and come up with something entirely new from scratch.
Okay, now we were getting somewhere. I had settled on to a way to incorporate the zero sign without conveying anything terrible, and that was what would be described as the Squid. It’s actually meant to convey both a zero and an explosion (One of The Ministry’s earliest motto’s was “If at first you don’t succeed: Explosion”. Needless to say, we weren’t very good writers at the beginning). Also it’s meant to be a squid, as that became our de facto mascot (see also the Ministry of Playwriting coat of arms at the top corner of the poster). Aside from the Squid tying everything together, we also had a great cluster at the top that conveyed information in a visually interesting and simple manner. The only thing I needed to work on for the next round was the lower half of the post (everything beneath the Squid looks like chaos, and not in the playful way I wanted. Instead in the ugly, “I don’t know what I’m doing” way), and I still needed to work on the color palette a bit.
So there’s the final design. It mostly works, although after looking at this poster fairly regularly for the past few years, I can say that the title “No Cash Value” still isn’t reading as a title, and that the treatment of the repeating “May 16 2010”, although interesting and worth exploration, didn’t come out as well as it could have. The 7:00 MST came out fantastically, and I finally found a way to incorporate the magazine photo cutouts while also incorporating them into the overall piece well. Further, I finally found a great color palette. So, an overall success I suppose.