Monday, November 9, 2009

Designed To Rock

In today's second installment of "Designed To Rock," we talk with Round Rock, TX gig poster designer, Todd Slater. Todd has designed for a variety of different artists ranging from Green Day to Elvis Costello. You can check out his portfolio of work here.

Bona Fide Darling: How long have you been designing?

Todd Slater: Well, I graduated in 2003 from Stephen F. Austin and worked in a t-shirt shop for a couple of years before going freelance. I've been designing professionally for seven years now.

BFD: What was the first design you did for a major band? How did you get that gig?

TS: It was for Pretty Girls Make Graves and it was a show at the Trocadero in Philadelphia. I knew from that the Troc commissioned tons of silkscreened posters and I was able to finally track down their promoter after numerous phone calls and emails.

BFD: What is your preferred medium to work in?

TS: All hand-pulled silkscreen if possible.

BFD: Why do you think there has been such a boom in screen print rock poster sales over the last several years?

TS: Several major books have come out on the subject: Art of Rock & Art of Modern Rock which have helped. I think that bands selling their music digitally has put less emphasis on album art and that posters can fill that void for some.

BFD: Is there a band you would really want to work with?

TS: Man, so many. Bob Dylan is really high on my list. Tom Waits and Beck too. I'd also really like to do a Fiery Furnaces print and a Daniel Johnston print. There's tons really. Ween was a big reason I got into poster art and I've been fortunate to get to work with them on many projects.

BFD: Are your concepts driven from the band, their songs or neither.

TS: It's evolving actually. When I first began everything was driven by a single song or a theme on the band's album. I think I focused on this because I wanted to make sure people "got it". I sort of feared people (or the bands) staring at my prints with blank expressions on their faces. In the past couple of years I've focused on that less and just concentrated on vibe and feeling and mood and atmosphere when working on a print. I think it can be better to make the imagery difficult sometimes.

BFD: Do you prefer to hand design or computer design your projects?

TS: It's an even mix I'd say since everything starts as a sketch. I use programs like illustrator and photoshop to refine and polish those sketches. A wacom is a really handy tool for drawing I must say and I wonder if I'll move to that full time at some point.

BFD: Is there an artist you wouldn't want to work with?

TS: Haha...well, yes. There are bands I don't listen to that I've done work for but I can't give you a list. Eventually, I'll detail every bad experience I've had in a retrospective or book but now is not the time to go scorched earth. It will happen though and I will spare no details.

BFD: What drew you to graphic design?

TS: Failure to develop as a painter? I'm kidding (sort of). I think my work has an equal balance of design and illustration. I'm interested in both equally and making prints has been the right balance for me. There's also some sort of boldness and immediacy in graphic design that I'm attracted too.

BFD: My brother and I have a debate as to what make a good rock poster. He feels that they have to be screen printed and not any type of photograph. Where do you fall in this debate for the ages... and poster nerds.

TS: This is a pretty common feeling, your brother is not alone. Screen-printing is a must I agree, but photography has it's place in rock posters. I use stock photos quite a bit in what I do. Poster art is evolving and while I agree that most of the greatest posters are illustrated I can't rule out photography.

BFD: Any tips for aspiring designers out there?

TS: Trust your instincts and make a poster that is as important to you as the music you're creating it for.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, he does some really great work. Interesting read.