* Promotional design
* A youth theatre club is performing a production of Abigail’s Party. Mike Leigh’s tale of suburban taste is set in the 1970s and explores middle class aspirations and preoccupations.
* You will need to acquaint yourself with the play if you don’t know it already, as they are particularly keen for it to have a 70s feel. The play will be touring local theatres for a month, performing every Friday night and Saturday matinee.
* poster (A3 portrait)
* flyer (A5 landscape, double-sided)
* newspaper advert (A6)
* In addition they would like their A5 programme cover to continue the design theme.
* For the purposes of this brief you need to invent dates, times, places, names and any other information you think will be required. Use Lorun ipsum text for areas of body text.
About Abigail’s Party
Abigail’s Party is a play directed in 1977 by Mike Leigh. The 70s feel is omnipresent in it. Not just the aesthetics and taste of that time, but also deeper social challenges and situations faced by middle-class people are exposed. Best described on Wikipedia: ” It is a comedy and a satire on the aspirations and tastes of the new middle class that emerged in Britain in the1970s.” It offers an uncomfortable viewing experience as feel bad and ashamed by the actors in a humorous way, exposing awkward social situations.
It had over 104 performances after it got recorded for TV by the BBC.
Mike Leigh is an English writer and director of film and theatre. In the 1970s his career moved between theatre work and making films for BBC Television, many of which were characterised by a gritty “kitchen sink realism” style.
I am not familiar with this piece of work.
My understanding of the play will benefit the final designs so I went ahead and watched it online (link). Some key elements became pretty clear.
- 70s Wallpaper
- Alcohol and Cigarette
- Social Status
- Gender Roles
Secondary Research or How to Avoid A Cliche.
How others designed and illustrated the play for commercials and posters:
Researching these designs showed that the creative field was pretty narrow. Most used classic 70s colours like muted, earthy tones in orange and brown, a Font style so 70s, it almost hurts, and the use of modernist type furniture of that era.
Research had provided the stereotypical style that is so prevalent today. Many seem to become a cliche of itself… I wonder if I can avoid this shallow and typical style while still maintaining a clear connection to the 70s and the party aesthetics of the play.
Further research should help me. How did “Graphic Design” look like in the 70s?
While psychedelic posters carried into the 1970s, it saw an evolution in advertising, shifting from cartoons and illustrations to images of real people, usually up close. I researched some iconic Designs of that time which took a different direction than the 70s designs of today. Some of the most iconic Designers were Milton Glaser or Verner Panton, amongst many others.
Milton Glaser’s iconic tourism-campaign symbol debuted in 1973.
To add my own take on it and set the “mood”, I created a mood board on the topic:
How do other Theatres design their posters? What information is shown and what is left out?
I really liked the poster design of the Swiss Theatre “Schauspielhaus”. It showed me that i don’t need to show all information, like dates etc., on the Poster. Its purpose is the branding of the play and making people interested to know more.
I focused on using a big image as background with strong colours and bold typography. Otherwise, it should be kept minimal.
Typography and Theatre Branding
I started out searching a Font i wanted to work with. This was important to me as it helped me set the tone of the entire Design of the Poster. Again, i wanted to avoid falling into 70s cliche’s. Additionally, the Youth Theatre needed to stand out as well. I need to create a little logo and branding for them, as they will have many other posters too for different plays, where their name and brand should stay consistent.
I went for “Playfair Display” as my main Font. It is classic and connects to classical 70s styles.
For the Youth Theatre branding, i wanted to use a font with a stark contrast. Something modern and contemporary. I went with “League Spartan”. A very bold and geometric font. I narrowed the leading and kerning of both fonts.
I found a search engine for vintage images that are royalty free http://vintagestockphotos.com/. There I searched for 70s images, preferably of parties. I’ve been lucky and had, what i call, a lucky shot. The image is weird, clearly from the 70s, two people kissing surrounded by living room funriture of that time. A woman is even wearing a hat. Perfect match. Most of my initial highlights of the play are covered:
- Social Status
- Gender Roles
- Sex/ Lust
Poster Design and Branding Experiments
The rectangle branding of the theater group will serve them for the future and will look always the same on future posters of other plays. As the main Title is layered on top of the theatre’ logo, it falls in the background and makes it clear that it is the presenter/ organizer of the play. Left and right are the most important pieces of information at this point. Enough to make someone interested.
By adding a quote from the play “it’s creeping up sue” it wakes up memories of the original. Different quotes are visible across the different designs.
I used the same imagery and art direction for the flyer, exchanging the quote by another one to keep it playful for readers. On the back, there is more information in order to sell the play to the reader. You can find the information on where the show will be played as well as where to get tickets.
The text is simple but focuses more on selling the play, compared to the poster. As this will be printed in a newspaper, it needs to earn the readers attention quickly. The quote of the play helps too,
The main difference for the general Theatre Program cover is that the theatre is the main element, rather than abigails play. As we still need to maintain the look and feel, I simply centralised the theatre logo and turned it to black, letting it become the central piece of the design.