In the world of performing arts, a successful promotional poster can make all the difference in drawing in audiences and creating excitement for an upcoming event. Chemi Montes was tasked with creating promotional posters for the American University Department of Performing Arts for two upcoming performances: “American University Symphonic Band” (above, left) and “Fall for Jazz” (above, right). In these two Graphis Poster 2024 entries, Montes uses a tool-agnostic approach, drawing inspiration from the music itself. Montes’ poster designs capture the essence of jazz and symphonic band music in a way that is sure to captivate potential concert-goers. Join us as we explore the creative process behind these two posters and how these innovative approaches brought the music to life through design.
By: Chemi Montes
AMERICAN UNIVERSITY SYMPHONIC BAND
“The American University Symphonic Band traditionally offers two yearly performances. Its very nature, its reliance on wind instruments (both wood and brass), and its percussion often become the primary identifier for concerts that traditionally comprehend a variety of works, composers, time periods, and national legacies, as this specific poster sought to riff off the notable role that brass plays in a symphonic band.
“I have always been fascinated by the ingenuity and craft manifest in the circumvolutions that make the tubing of many brass instruments. To those who, like me, do not play the instrument, the structure of an instrument such as a French horn is seemingly a convoluted maze of piping and valves. However, in the expert hands of an adept musician, this metal structure performs the magical role of converting the flow of air into melodies, harmonies, baselines… music.
“Based on this life-long admiration for the physical nature of the horn, I decided to develop a hyperbolic depiction of its intricacies, at first tracing its actual structure, only to progressively deviate into an expanded, whimsical flow of tubes, valves, and flares. The aim was to try to Evoque in the viewer the same fascination I have always had for the complexity of the instrument while at the same time anchoring the visual to its referent, thus serving as a metonymic representation of the ensemble. To ensure that there would be no misconception and to further convey the imagination-driven reinterpretation of the instrument, I outlined the tubing to create additional visual noise and enhance the illusion of magical complexity. The color palette purposely relies on contrasting cool and warm colors to create a further illusion of depth in a two-dimensional illustration.”
FALL FOR JAZZ
“The Fall for Jazz performance is an annual event with an eclectic program that may include different sub-genre such as big band jazz, bop, funk, Latin, rock, and swing. The challenge is that the design process is often, as it was in this case, conducted before a final determination of the program of the performance, which leads the concept development approach for the promotional posters to focus on an encompassing visualization of Jazz and its attributes.
“My approach is to develop a versatile visualization of the musical variety offered in the program. The development of forms grows from the letterforms in the word “jazz,” whose form and counter-form elements become the motifs for lines, patterns, and improvisational explorations of visual rhythm. Typographically originated forms become integrated with semi-figurative allusions to some common jazz instruments. I embrace an experimental and improvised approach to developing visuals that seek to parallel the musical qualities that Jazz embodies. The color palette grows out of the material and sonic qualities of the instruments.
“I am tool-agnostic, and my design process relies on digital and analog sources and methods. My design work includes photographic elements (often extracted from a vast personal scrapbook of images, textures, and found objects), vector graphics, and hand-rendered elements. In this case, the photographic image is simply a blurry color palette that becomes an atmospheric background for the more defined shapes. All the event-specific information follows a standard format that anchors all visual assets promoting different musical performances.
Learn more about Chemi Montes here. See more work from Chemi Montes here.
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