While I was studying for my illustration degree, one of my lovely tutors exposed me to the wonders of mid-century Polish circus poster design. They were so playful and loose and funny and charming, I fell in love instantly and, as a result, very quickly changed the way I approached my own work and viewed illustration as a medium.
Ever since, I have tried to inject similar qualities into my own work, but when i’m working on an editorial brief, I find myself focusing on details too rigidly. I have realised recently that when planning an illustration, the looser I keep the sketch, the happier I am with the outcome. So, I decided to make a few images for myself that I could work on in-between client work, that forced me to loosen my grip on the pencil a little bit.
Instead of using the CYRK posters as a starting point for my new project, I decided it would be a fun exercise to make some of my own. Using a different circus act or sideshow as inspiration for each image, I got to work!
So far, I have finished 5 posters, (above) and I still have lots of ideas for further posters so I will continue to work on them in-between jobs etc. I also hope to exhibit the full set of posters somewhere in the near future... better get cracking!
The Starting Point
As I said above, part of the point of this project was to force myself to be more playful and to lean a little heavier on serendipity. I made the decision early on to do no more planning than a simple thumbnail, then figure out the composition and scale of things directly in photoshop. Usually, I have my finalised sketch as a blueprint for the final image, so know exactly which shapes or marks I need to make. This meant that while I was creating the elements from cut paper or mark-making for the posters, I had to make it up as I went along.
sketches, sketches, sketches
Work in progress on poster no.1
This is a selection of images that I started, but then for one reason or another, I ran out of steam. Sometimes, I get to that point and the only thing to do is bin it and start again... I may pick these up again down the line but its more likely that they'll remain in the reject bin forever!
to be continued...