Whilst looking for inspiration for parts of my own poster I stumbled across the posters of Michael Thomson on his partners blog. I took interest in the work at the time when I was trying to think up colour schemes to use, something I have been struggling with because I kept limiting myself to a very limited palette in the red, green and yellow typically associated with reggae.
This work uses its imagery to convey the reggae theme rather than only relying on the colour. In contrast I think my work will need some of the reggae colour, not that this is a bad thing but seeing this is convincing me to think outside of these and not dismiss other colour schemes completely.
Something else I took from the images was the use of the texture within the figures, particularly the above two. The shape on my poster has a large flat surface in the middle which may benefit from this idea.
Recurring Features in the cover designs
For the most part the font chosen is usually blocky, sans seriff in nature. Easy to to read. Stylistic choices to do with the font different to this can be seen in No Angel in which the font chosen is a chosen to resemble a licence plate sort of design relevant to the biker gang subject matter. Another example of a different sort of font can be seen in The Iceman were the text has been dirtied up a little to possibly represent a mixture of blood and/or ice from the corpse featured on the cover.
Other recurring themes include the use of red, used as a signifier for the blood found in books about crime and murder. A good example of this would be in an alternate cover of Truman Capote In Cold Blood (will put this at the bottom somewhere). This red often stands out well because of the monotone, noir look crime books go for. Most of the covers do have a very limited palette or are in greyscale with the red blood look (Best examples The Iceman, Helter Skelter, People Who Eat darkness).
The subject of True crime books is also going to be serious so the simple font and limited colour works well and identifies what the books are on the shelf. Whilst the red blood cover is done a lot it does work and is something to consider incorporating for me. The books Helter Skelter and People who eat darkness both use the limited palette but with quite bold eye-catching imagery. I think the combination of the colour palette style and the images used help identify the book in its genre.
More Stylistically illustrated covers
I chose to add these covers just because they were more stylistically closer to how I think I might work. I strayed into fictional crime here as I thought the themes were similar enough that the same thinking could be used. These books all feature signifiers to indicate that they are crime novels on the covers. The polish book and The Adjustment both feature a revolver, a weapon often used as a plot device in murder stories, to indicate the books genre. They do it in different ways, one placing the revolver almost like a logo in the bordering on the book cover whilst the other uses it as the main image of the cover, but in such a way that it almost looks like it is intruding and being forced onto the cover.
Tinker Taylor Soldier spy singles out two characters on its cover by colouring them different to stand out from the crowd they are in. This goes down the route of showing the chase or investigation into another person element of a crime novel, showing there are multiple ways to take and consider your imagery for a cover.
Simple cover I mentioned earlier as the example of the use of red seen on a lot of the covers.
Whilst generating my own images and ideas for the upcoming reggae poster competition I also looked back on last years entries to see what imagery they used, why it worked and what it is.
Heart Based Imagery
Eric Boelts (left), Lijie Yang (right)
On the visit Jamaica website Reggae music is described as ‘the heartbeat of Jamaica’. The literal imagery of the heart was found in multiple posters from last years entries. The heart itself has a good link with music; you can relate the beat and rhythm of a heart to that of music, it is a good literal image. The challenge now with using heart imagery in a new poster would be being unique, finding a new way to create the image so people don’t just dismiss it as another reggae heart.
Instrument Based Imagery
Wojciech Osuchowski (left) Monika Sojka (middle) – mohammed mozaffari (right)
Instrument imagery from the shortlists tended to involve pouring reggae colours into the shapes of instruments used to create the reggae sound. Alternatively instruments have been built into other shapes found in reggae culture (the palm tree above). Instruments are obviously a good way to show a musical theme (being the things that create it and all). I think you just need either a very bold clean image or a very creative idea to make yours stand out.
Lijie Yang (left) Jacek Tofil (right)
Using well known reggae artists on the poster gives you an already well known image associated with reggae to draw people to your poster. The top left image is a well known image of Bob Marley, but made up of text, a new twist on a classic image. Everyone who sees in immediately have a basic idea of what the poster is about. The top left image has a very ‘reggae colour palette’ in my opinion and a bold, broken line style that I would say fits with the theme. Whilst I don’t know the artist on the poster I would recognise both images as being related to reggae.