“Just Like Being There”
Artists Francisco Ramirez and Paloma Chavez, film director Scout Shannon discuss Thursday night's art, film and music event.
Thursday night at Hotel Foster, AIGA Wisconsin will present a night of art, film and music centered around gig posters. That makes sense; AIGA Wisconsin is one of 67 chapters of the professional association for design, especially graphic design. Gig posters have only recently been considered “art” in the grander sense. At the Hotel Foster, AIGA will show especially striking and creative images.
The evening will begin with a meet and greet and poster sale with local artists. A screening of director Scout Shannon’s Just Like Being There, which premiered at last year’s SXSW music festival, will follow. Shannon will be available for questions after the film. Indie pop favorites Maritime — a gig poster for that band graces our Arts & Culture display page — will complete the event.
Artists Francisco Ramirez and Paloma Chavez spoke on the art form and their own work.
“Gig posters are different in that you’re the one giving a look and feel to something that’s not necessarily tangible,” said Chavez. “Music is a tough thing to describe verbally, let alone visually. You’re trying to give a face to a voice and make it feel like they both belong together. The process changes each time.”
Last year, Chavez created a gig poster for the St. Vincent and David Byrne show that was turned into an official T-shirt for the tour. She’s also excited about her recent work for Australian psychedelic rock group Tame Impala.
“Tame Impala was the most complex poster I’ve done so far,” said Chavez. “I thought it’d be pretty simple to separate the colors – taking only a couple hours tops. It ended up taking me over a month to figure out how to separate and still get the same effects I had in the digital version.”
Ramirez started his business, The Bureau of Print Research and Design, in 2006. He also touched on the complexities of creating a gig poster.
“It’s all about understanding the band and their own approach to themselves,” said Ramirez. “Each project is different, sometimes it may have a clean design with sharp lines and type or it’s going to be a mess of colors and smears. Two of my favorite processes are hand manipulating the image, either by crumpling the image and then scanning it or cutting it apart and taping it back together. I also like when the image has a bit of humor. When I pull the last color on the poster and I start to laugh — that’s when it works for me.”
In Just Like Being There, Scout Shannon wrangled the heart and talent of the gig poster community. His film stems from his own experience in a band.
“We made some records, toured a lot, got played on the radio even,” said Shannon. “But the first time I felt like I was in a real band was when I got to a gig and someone had made a poster for it. That happened to be Lil Tuffy, who appears in my film, but at the time I didn’t know him. I just knew that an artist had taken the time to create this beautiful piece of art to promote something I was doing, and it felt incredibly validating.”
Along with his musical roots, Shannon’s interests lie in the art form itself and the community of artists who create unique images.
“They are an amazingly generous group of people, so almost every interview I did, I left with between 2 and 10 posters. I genuinely love the art form…I would have to live in a labyrinth in order to have enough wall space for all the posters in my collection.
“The deeper you get into this world, the more you can pull out details and recognize the work of a given designer or studio. One of the things that is so appealing about screen printing, to me at least, is that it’s honest. It’s manual labor, and you can see the hand of the artist in every piece.”
The Hotel Foster print event comes on the heels of the very big-deal Southern Graphics Council International Conference. Both shine light on Milwaukee’s ever-budding arts scene.
“We said from day one that we wanted people to leave the movie feeling inspired to create something,” said Shannon. “Not necessarily a gig poster, but something. Make a drawing, knit a scarf, cook a meal, write a song. The movie, at its heart, is a love letter to live music.”
“This isn’t just a documentary about screen printed gig posters,” said Chavez. “This is a documentary about your everyday person finding value in something other people wouldn’t and making a conscious decision to dedicate time to it. The documentary features all types of poster artists – from people who’ve got 20+ years experience to people like me, who’ve only been at it for a handful of years. That’s the beauty of screen printing, it begs to be owned by everyone. This documentary and the curated poster show scream that loud and clear.”
Gig Posters: Just Like Being There is organized by AIGA and sponsored by Milwaukee Film, 88.9 Radio Milwaukee, and Hotel Foster, taking place from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thurs. April 4 at Hotel Foster. Tickets are $20 if you pre-register, $25 at the door. Find more info here.