Local design wizards Cricket Press just put out a great new book compiling all their work into one convenient spot. Not only is it a completely beautiful addition to anything you already own, but they were nice enough to ask me to write the intro! Unfortunately that left me a little tuckered out, so I decided to ask You Ain’t No Picasso’s intern Liz if she wouldn’t mind writing a bit about Cricket Press and GigPosters.com, both of whom have new books out.
An Interview with Cricket Press by YANP Intern Liz
Every day, music and live shows are promoted in numerous ways. Think about the number of fliers and posters you pass on the sidewalk, in places of business or elsewhere. Ever wonder who or what was behind those press posters dangling from telephone poles, pressed against storefront windows or adorning the local coffee shop bulletin board? We here at You Ain’t No Picasso were curious as well and chatted with author Clay Hayes, creator of Gig Posters Volume 1: Rock Show Art of the 21st Century. The book, which hit shelves earlier this summer, functions as a collectible directory of the most influential gig poster artists from the States and abroad. In an increasingly digital-centered world where album artwork has been confined to a small thumbnail image in one’s music library, gig posters are becoming a unique relic and timeless art form.
“Gig posters are more important than ever these days,” Hayes said. “Fans and collectors can get their hands on amazing artwork that provides memorabilia and something physical to frame on their wall. MP3s are great, but people always love something they can stare at and enjoy.”
Originally conceived as an online catalog of gig art called gigposters.com, the print version of Hayes hobby-turned-business includes over 100 tear-out and frameable posters from the designers featured. Hayes began the website simply as a hobby, but quickly saw the site grow as he realized the size of the worldwide gig poster artist community.
“[The publisher] approached me with the idea [of turning it into a book] and I jumped at the opportunity,” Hayes said. “I spent a year and a half compiling it. It definitely has reached new audiences and gives people a great look into the world of gig posters.” Currently, the online catalog contains over 100,000 gig posters that feature nearly 8,500
Lexington gig poster artists Cricket Press, featured in the book, also shared some insight to their field. Over their career, they’ve designed promo art for artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Mates of State, Animal Collective and Fleet Foxes, a mere sampling of their repertoire that are featured in Gig Posters. Artists and owners Sara and Brian Turner produce posters that are instantly recognizable around the city and have gradually gained great notoriety around the world.
“[The music] influenced us to start Cricket Press. We have always been very into music…and we started recognizing how many of the bands we loved also had these really cool hand-made posters floating around out there for many of their shows,” Brian said.
“We never set out to become a poster design studio or anything like that, but once we did our first few gig posters, we were hooked.”
What started in 2003 as a “night and weekend hobby” eventually became a full time job for the Turners in 2005. The pieces they create are a mixture between traditional press pieces and wicked art innovation. Recent local works included promo posters for the Decemberists’ Hazards of Love Lexington tour stop and Man Man’s Halloween show at Lexington’s Busters Billiards and Backroom. The latter depicted a skeleton drummer with piano keys for ribs and a beating, bleeding heart in the shape of the band’s name. Brian says that “inspirations for design come from everywhere. Sometimes the band will come to us with an exact idea of their own, so the art is our translation of what the band had in mind. Most of the time though, our designs are influenced by the band’s music; a particular song, a lyric, their sound or the persona the band has created for themselves.”
A testimony to the widespread influence that Cricket Press and gig poster printers have is a story that Sara and Brian cite as their most memorable design experience. Last year, Cricket Press had a retrospective exhibit in a local gallery space. Prior to the event, an out-of-state fan emailed the Turner’s, saying he would be at the show with a “surprise for them.” “That [was] kinda cryptic,” Brian said. “We were left wondering what it would be. The night of the opening, the person eventually came up to us…rolled up his sleeves and unbuttoned his shirt to show that he was covered in various elements of our posters over the years…and there were MANY of them, tattooed all over his body!”
We figured we owed this person a drink or dinner or something in exchange for all the pain he must’ve went through in getting our artwork permanently inked onto his body. It’s one of those moments we’ll definitely never forget.”
Gig Posters: Volume 1: Rock Show Art of the 21st Century. is currently available from Quirk Books and Cricket Press is releasing their own book this November locally and (eventually) online.