Poster design for MATS Global Art gathering

It's been a year now since I've been taking part in the Make Art That Sells courses, which have been a tremendous help for my growth as an illustrator. So far everything has happened online, but this year the organizers have cooked up something special: coming up in June, a real live in-person event! It's going to be in Brighton, UK. That's pretty far from Los Angeles... but I decided it's been too long since my last trip to Europe, so I'm going! The event has been on my mind even more these past few days, since the assignment for Bootcamp this month was an open brief competition to design the actual poster for the event. What an opportunity! And a great way to learn about this town I'm going to visit. Here's my final design below.

I started out with inspiration from posters on Pinterest. I really like the big bold shapes of this italian poster, simple but very impactful. Also, the idea of making some kind of visual pun like in this poster was very appealing to me. No idea how I was going to do that, but I planted the seed. 

Below are my first doodles, before I even took a peak at what everyone else was posting in the group. I wanted to express the idea of meeting together, cause that is the main reason I am going, to meet people in person. Then who would not want to draw a fabulous building like the Brighton Dome? I toyed around different ideas to bring these two concepts together.

It's funny what happens when I start looking at other people's work. Starting with curiosity, surprise, awe, it quickly goes to "why didn't I think of that", then doubts about my own abilities and then panic that I won't come up with something worthwhile. It would be easy to conclude that it's best to not look at all. But I believe this internal roller-coaster ride is actually beneficial. The confrontation with others ideas forces us to push beyond our normal boundaries and make our work better. The key is to not copy, but absorb and transform the input to include in our own way.

I wanted to try making a bunch of artists walking towards the dome, but my attempt to incorporate all the text in a pleasing layout quickly failed, so I went to another idea. A grid-like layout where I could easily fit all the elements I wanted. It seemed good, but I wasn't all that excited by it. The way I know I'm not excited is..procrastination.

The big faces poster kept crawling in my head, and when an idea like this won't let go of me, I know it's a sign that's the one I have to do. So, right before I set out to trace my grid sketch, I started doodling the faces again, on a little corner of a blank sheet, and spontaneously the third face came in the middle. Now that, I was excited to work on. But had I not drawn the three people in my grid sketch, I might not have not have come up with this! 

Above you can see my progression in Illustrator. I dropped the hands part in the bottom, and also felt the dome part was too heavy on the top so I simplified, even if it meant the dome shape would be less accurate. Hoping the Brighton people will forgive me the artistic license!

My original idea was to draw or paint a bunch of motifs inside the head. I filled a couple pages in my sketchbook but when I tried to see what it would look like in photoshop (see below), it looked much too busy and detract from the concept. I kept thinking of Matisse's posters in my mind. The reason they are so successful is their simplicity. So I went instead with simpler vector shapes, and voila. 

I'm skipping the whole lettering part, but that took a lot of time! Maybe I need to learn a better technique, cause all the clean-up is very labor intensive. Good thing we had a strict color palette to work with, that saved me a lot of fiddling around!

The gallery on Lilla's site is now live, take a look, so many gorgeous designs (300 of them!). I'm on page 4. We'll know the result within a week. Good luck to all!