On Thursday 3rd Craig Oldham, from Music design agency, came to give a talk about his experience working with illustrators. He went through a series of 6 projects where illustrators had been enlisted and talked us through practically every bit of the process. It was an expletive filled lecture (which I loved!), but most importantly it was an honest and frank insight into his dealings with illustrators.
One of the projects he talked about was 'The Big Four', a series of posters commissioned by Manchester City to drum up attention for their next matches against the big four teams; Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal. The idea was to focus on one player per poster, a player who had relationships with both clubs playing in the current match. Craig wanted to create gig-like posters which could be plastered all over the city, he wanted these matches to be huge events that you wouldn't want to miss.
The first match was Man City vs Arsenal and the poster boy was Emmanuel Adebayor. To reflect Adebayor's slick style of playing, they recruited Michael Gillete (famous for his James Bond Penguin covers) to create a rock star poster. Craig talked us through the process of coming up with the idea, finding an illustrator, telling him what they wanted, changes that needed to be made, the fee they paid him etc. This project was fairly straightforward but it was really interesting to hear exactly what goes on in this type of commission.
The next poster for the Chelsea match featured Shaun Wright-Phillips. Craig wanted to depict the speed at which Shaun runs around the pitch. The first illustrator they found didn't quite make the mark and they struggled to find a replacement. In the end they discovered Chris White aka 3D Glasses who created this great illustration of Shaun firing round the pitch.
Next is was the Liverpool game and it was Craig Bellamy's turn to be the centre of the campaign. The idea behind this poster was to show the two sides of Bellamy - the aggressive and the passionate. For this they found the 'Picasso of gig posters' - Todd Slater. Craig said this was the easiest of the four posters as Todd immediately understood what they were after and produced it quickly without any problems. This is my favourite of the posters - I love the concept, the type and the beautiful illustration.
The last match was probably the biggest - the Manchester derby and there was only one contender for the poster: Carlos Tevez. He was adored by Man United fan's so you can imagine how they felt when he started playing for the club across the city; angry doesn't begin to cover it. Right from the start, Tevez was Man City's icon - he worked hard and played well. Music designed to work with Shepard Fairey and his agency Studio Number One to try and recreate the power of Fairey's famous 'Hope' poster. It wasn't all plain sailing though, there were problems in changing the design slightly but the finishing product ended up capturing the significance of the upcoming match.
The Manchester City campaign was highly successful and ended up creating a huge amount of interest in the matches. It also helped that all four players scored in the games they had respectively advertised!
Towards the end of the lecture, Craig gave some really useful advice - the first being that illustrators need to be more accessible. If a designer wanted to commission you but couldn't find any contact details, they'd give the job to someone else. Having a website, Facebook page etc is essential and his advice was to be more 'out there'.
He said designers will often ask you to change your image, but if you don't agree don't be afraid to stand your ground. Don't say no blatantly, but try to find a compromise where everyone's happy.
Craig also mentioned how important communication is. If you are unsure of something, ask! It's far better to ask the questions sooner rather than later when the designer is expecting a finished piece.
To round of the talk he said: if you want something badly and you work hard, eventually you'll get it. This was a great lecture - Craig didn't beat around the bush, he was straight to the point and very honest. He gave us a greater awareness of the industry we will enter into and gave some brilliant advice on how to cope and succeed. Thanks Craig!