How to not make things properly

A friend of mine approached me a couple of months ago because he was organising an event and he wanted me to design a poster for it.

He works in a youth centre in Germany in an area where they have a serious problem with organised neonazis, and among other things they are having this series of events over a weekend including a camp, a demonstration, an open-air concert and some more stuff. I was more than happy to accept this (probably non-paid) job, and told him that he should let me know what the content of the poster should be and what type of design they had in mind etc.

The organisation was busy organising the event, and for a number of reasons the poster was left as the last thing to be taken care of. A few days ago I got this email finally giving me a vague design brief and the copy that they wanted to have on the poster. I had six days to come up with something, and the only thing I knew about it was that it shouldn’t look like that typical leftist/antifa propaganda, because it has to be appealing to people who are not involved in this kind of organisation or scene. It was suggested that I do something kind of “pop” to attract young people to our thing.

sunWhen I opened my sketchbook to start working on it my eye fell on this sketch I had done a few days before, which I would describe as a sun vomiting a rainbow on some clouds. At first I thought I could use it for the poster, the copy was “schon wieder Zossen?” (“not again Zossen!”, Zossen being this village with a strong neonazi presence where a “House of Democracy” was burned down by neonazis a few months ago) and the image might have been an allusion to the fact that in German, when you really dislike something or someone, you say that “they make you puke”. I dropped this idea quite quickly because the point of this campaign as I see it is to counteract this grim image of Zossen without creating or reinforcing a point of negative identification (such as the “baddies” could nurture), but still I did like the idea of having some sort of rainbow or at least parallel stripes in it. Still, I did sketch down a couple of ideas for a layout that included the vomiting sun.


Then I started thinking of some typography for the poster. After this I turned my laptop on and spent an afternoon trying to turn these ideas into something, but at the end of the day I hadn’t produced anything I was even close to happy with. Fortunately, at this point my computer crashed and strangely enough I hadn’t saved my work once in the whole day. So the next day I set out to start from scratch.

So I spent one more day working on this thing and these were two intermediate states:


closely followed by the actual version:

Theoretically I was supposed to send this is on Tuesday so that the organising group can discuss it and vote on it on their meeting, but to avoid having to deal with the subsequent feedback in an extremely short time I decided to finish it now as quick as possible and send it to them before so that they could already give me some critique before this meeting. Apart from a couple of minor mistakes (for instance they gave me at first one of the acts’ name with a wrong spelling, and I forgot to include the dates of the event on the last version) I’m fairly satisfied with the result.

So what am I unhappy about?

Well I hate working under time pressure and I hate working with a brief that’s not well enough formulated – this was kind of ok but given the distance it would have been difficult to communicate about the many points that were unclear to me. I am learning through experience that I should always help people to correctly formulate what they want from me, and this is but another example of it. At this stage, it is quite impossible to do so, because I am working with a large group of people, the person I’m in touch with cannot take decisions for the group, and the work has to be done within three more days (including a sunday).

So the plan is to rework the poster tomorrow and maybe throw some more stuff in and see how it looks like, so that maybe I can send in another proposal before the meeting; however I have also learned through practice that the more time you take for something, the better it can get. So it feels to me kind of like a shame that I have a relatively good start but I know already that I won’t be able to take to the places I wish it would come to…

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1 Response to How to not make things properly

  1. Pingback: update (schon wieder zossen? pt.3) |

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