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31 March 2014

Advertising an open mic night

The Gallimaufry set me a good challenge last week to design and illustrate a poster advert for their Monday night Open Mic, hosted by the incredible Jay Wilcox.

The challenge soon became apparent when I started to research and think about the various ways to clearly advertise such an evening, that has such a well-recognised premise. Internet hunting quickly revealed that the common-place open mic event has a pretty appalling repertoire of badly designed posters. Perhaps due to quick designs in Word or Paint and possibly on the cheap by a pub owner! Obviously, I wanted to avoid that and any obviously easy solutions.

The Gallimaufry's open mic is open to all manner of musical styles, with the most common place item being the microphone itself. I wanted to figure out a way to integrate the microphone into the text and immediately began to think of the "i" in "mic" being an obvious letter to replace. At first I thought about the microphone being attached to a stand or having the connecting cable coming out of the bottom of it. However, both those options seemed to be quite cold and impersonal.

I'd been provided with a snappy line of copy about the offer for those who take part: "Play us a song or 2, have a drink on us if you do." This informal phrase felt very much like something you might have scribbled down or been passed on a scrap of paper, which led to a thought about bringing the individual directly into the poster design, with one hand clutching such a note and the other the microphone.

After that the rest of the design came together very quickly. I drew out the hands, adapted a standard photo of a microphone, adding a circle around the microphone head to form the 'O' in Open and after sketching out some small design thumbnails composed the final design layout - incorporating The Gallimaufry colour palette, logo and address footer.

Layouts where the text was on a horizontal axis made the composition look stilted and stiff. So, to encourage the interaction between the drawing and the type, I deliberately slanted the key elements of the design within the A-size advert. This also helped add a level of informality - an important attitude for any good open mic to adopt, being as it is often the platform for many a debuting musician.

Doing this job reminded me of this great TED talk I'd listened to recently, featuring a brilliant song to conclude.