I had the privilege of having my concept chosen for the SHSU 2020 Graphic Design Senior Show poster. Every year we host a "themed" show, being representative of that individual classes personality. My concept was "Breakout", showing an emergence from the foundational norm, rising into the creative "new".
Below is a case study showing the final version, then detailing the process including the very first rough pitch, and every iteration thereafter.
( My fellow Designer/Classmate Jacob Bayless took on the initiative of creating the website version of our poster, as seen below. With the need for our show to go purely online, his ambitious website has become the backbone for our show. )
I started with only two concepts shown on the left.
Both of these have a central theme of growth. I started with the idea of “breaking out” pretty early on, although this was before I thought to even name the show.
The first idea is that there‘s a gradual change in ourselves during undergrad. I took what opportunities I could in the design to show steady change without beating you over the head with it. The people were meant to be each of us photographed and walking future–bound, our shadows growing beyond us to signify current and future change.
Everyone walking off the page were meant to signify growing beyond what we see and experience now.
The one on the right was meant to showcase a more dramatic and immediate example: an activation of rapid change.
Instead of focusing on gradual growth, I was focusing on the change we make here and now as seniors, breaking out of what we know, ready to take on the world.
The original pitch was a quick rough to get across the idea of breaking a mold, with an erratically changing image and typefaces molding into one another, breaking apart, reforming, etc.
This was the idea that stuck.
After the rough draft was presented and I explained the concept, I was given a trial run to really show what I was on about.
This was the result. At the time I only had stock images, but I knew what I saw in my head. I cut out two generic heads, colored them in photoshop and layered them on top of each other in blending styles. The color choices were meant to be attention grabbing, but solid on their own. I didn‘t want it to be hard to look at, but I can‘t deny I wanted it to be confrontational.
I knew I wanted the design to unconventional in most ways. Right off the bat I chose an almost obtusely narrow layout. I wanted even the silhouette to demand attention and curiosity. Using this narrow channel, I realized I could create a narrative; a beginning and end point.
That‘s where things really started to come together. I had the left represent the foundational beginning, with the human element in the center beginning the catalyst that begins the change – after all the whole show is about us growing.
I knew from early on that I wanted paper tearing to be a motif. I started using that to show layers/stages of change and growth. I really wanted it to look activated and alive. Below are all of the printed layers that were torn, layered on top of each other, and then scanned in to create the final look.
After voting and deciding to move forward with my concept, I needed to get our personalities in there instead of Pexels.com people. Above is 27 of the 105 headshots I took of our class with the talented Quincy Webster as the photographer. To cover the full scope and whatever I needed for the project, we had each person do about 4 angles, from head–on all the way to side profile.
The idea here was to re-create the original pitch with our photos, using 3–4 people per poster. One person was the head-on, one person was the 3/4 angle, one person was the side profile, etc. There would be a variety of 3–4 versions of the poster to include all of us. The idea being that each of us were one part of singular motion: turning to the side, facing forward.
Only twelve more after this – easy!
In hindsight it‘s funny, I thought I was basically 99% done here. But despite the fact that this was starting to look really good, it was nagging at me that the idea of having 4 variations of the poster to get everyone there wasn‘t working. Functionally it works, but the main issue came up: why these selection of people? If someone only sees one version of the poster, what makes those three so important? It needed revisiting.
There were a lot of edits made in one sitting with our professor Anthony Watkins, who usually helms the Senior Show. Do we move people around fit them all in? There‘s not enough room for them and the tearing, and what about the text? It was starting to look like the whole poster would need massive changes.
This wasn‘t the final iteration, but more of a back–to–the–drawing–board situation. I needed to scale everything back to fit everyone in, then figure out how best to get the rest of the elements in. I never want to force anything, but the tearing and layering felt critical to concept.
This was a reminder that change for the better is always the best course. Without this I wouldn‘t have experimented with the type more and created the new typography treatment to further reinforce the idea. Now, instead of going from left to right, the imagery is almost panoramic, there‘s still the central human element, but now from there it sprawls out, covering a full 360 degrees.
I had to go in and edit a lot of new photos, creating new angles for people that didn‘t have them. (Before I had decided that Jeromy was one of the front facing people, and only created that version of his imagery). Letting parts of people‘s heads overlap with others was a touch I wanted to do from the start, and works its best here, as well as leaving all those little imperfections of missing erasing some parts of the background to give it almost a graffiti look.
Back to the final version–the tearing and layering is reincorporated, and finally that 99% can tick up to 100%.