On February 8, the Power Records Project streamed a live performance of an original Flash Gordon radio serial from 1935. It was the next step in the evolution of an idea that grew out of my two-week adventure with COVID back in March. Something that started out as an individual endeavor has grown into a fun, creative troupe of seven. After kicking around ideas to expand beyond re-creating old book-and-record adventures, we decided to get goofy and do a live performance on Zoom and streamed through FacebookLive.
From a design standpoint it was fun for me to create some teaser and Zoom background graphics, as well as a short teaser video that allowed me more practice and play time with After Effects and Premiere.
With over 325 views as of this post, we’ve exceeded all of our modest expectations.
The VIP Auction was an annual fundraising event through the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation. Each year, a committee voted on a theme and encouraged attendees to dress the part. In 2019 for example, my colleague Nannette created a kick-ass look for the Rock the Night event with a hair metal feel without sacrificing the ozone layer.
For 2020 the theme was Hooray for Hollywood and I was assigned as creative lead. My design married an art deco font with a Saul Bass 1960s movie poster feel. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced the cancellation of the event, which was scheduled in April of 2020. Much of the materials were already produced, including the logo, invitation, backdrop and nearly all of the signage.
After providing the Record Store Day poster design last year for local landmark Bananas Records, I was fortunate enough to be asked to work on the 2019 version. Sometimes it helps to be in the know with those in the know.
I was given a lot of leeway in terms of direction again this year. Since Bananas doesn’t really have a budget for these things, it’s essentially a pro bono gig. I’m big believer that designers should be compensated for their design. I’m also a big believer in the relationships you form with people and being in position to help out in ways that don’t always result monetary transactions. Let’s just say my vinyl copies of Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration and Simple Minds’ Sister Feelings Call have left me properly compensated. I look at it as a chance to flex my creative brain on projects outside of my job at the hospital. I’ve worked hard in recent years to build relationships that afford me the privilege to work on fun side projects like this.
There are a lot of great designs of past RSD posters and since it’s an international event, that allowed for a treasure trove of ideas to inspire what became the finished design. I liked combining the idea of the vinyl record and its grooves with the orbits of our solar system’s planets. It helped that the lineup at the store consisted of eight acts and a food truck (sorry Pluto, at least you were represented).
As with any design exploration, a lot of the fun is coming up with various concepts and then leaving it up to the client to decide which they like best because they always choose your favorite. Excuse me while I turn off my sarcasm alarm. I was really happy with my exploration on this one though and although my personal favorite is the minimalist design utilizing the banana silhouette as the arm of the record player, I was still happy with what Bananas chose.
One thing I wanted to accomplish when I moved to St. Petersburg from D.C. was to experience a night at a local bar spinning some of the music that has shaped and influenced my life. I had no equipment, no experience and no idea if anyone in St. Pete even listened to the stuff I’d want to play.
Jen and Genevieve, co-workers at local vinyl shop Bananas Records, asked me to be a part of a three-headed-DJ team and we’ve been doing a monthly Flashback Fridays gig at The Independent Bar for a few months now. We spin all vinyl and we keep it simple and fun. It’s less a dance party and more background music and that suits me fine, although random acts of dancing do occur.
It also gave me a chance to throw down some design ideas for the night’s promo posters.
For our 60s night, I took inspiration from the Quadrophenia film poster since I lean towards the British end of the 60s spectrum (plus, I practically own stock in Ben Sherman). I prefer to keep my design simple and clean, so I liked the bits of blue, red and black on the white background. The type is Helvetica Neue.
Some people love Helvetica and some loathe it. Personally, I love it. I still vividly remember it as part of the New York City Subway maps in the 70s, before I even knew what I was looking at.
I don’t know how long the dj gig will last. The way I look at it, I’ve already surpassed my dream of doing it once. The happiness bonus has been getting the opportunity to channel my love of music into the promo posters. I can’t help but smile when I see them out there in the wild.
Record Store Day is kind of a big deal for vinyl fans. Being asked to design the poster and social creative for Bananas Music in St. Petersburg, Florida was kind of a big deal for me.
Begun in 2008, Record Store Day is an international event held at vinyl shops across the country and around the world. Bands release special edition singles and albums exclusively for the day. For instance, The Cure released Torn Down, a sequel of sorts to 1990’s Mixed Up compilation. Mixed Up was also re-issued as part of RSD.
Bananas, as many shops do, organized a day of deals, live music, food and a general celebration of the culture, community and camaraderie that orbit these venues.
I was jazzed to be asked to design the poster and social media creative for the store, going for something clean and neat, with a brushing homage to Peter Saville’s design for New Order’s 1983 masterpiece Power, Corruption and Lies. The colored blocks above the album sleeve are color coordinated to the type below, a nod to the color chips on Saville’s iconic design.
I wouldn’t normally showcase the concepts I worked on prior to the final version, but I quite liked the pixellated banana idea I put together. It plays with the obvious implied sexual connotation, but by pixelating the peeled portion of the banana I was able to have some fun with it. It was my favorite concept, but it slipped to number 2 with the store.