A few years back, someone on Reddit asked me a few questions about the process of doing my Foo Fighters poster. I tried to respond without sounding like a dumbass:
How were you selected?
Like in most jobs, I just got an email from management and they asked if I was interested.
In highschool and middleschool, Nirvana via interviews introduced me to punk rock. They often mentioned searching for bands you’d never hear about – which led me to smaller touring bands, finding local bands, playing music myself in small bars, the rock poster world and eventually doing work with the Melvins. It’s been really great to see what Dave and his collection of talented friends (it was great seeing Pat Smear onstage the other night) has done for himself over the past 20 years. So when asked, it was a pretty easy answer.
Did they give you free reign to design what to you wanted? Did they approve them?
Usually with rock posters, one of the benefits is that we get to just do whatever the hell we want. This way, they function as tribute. It’s almost a way to create fan artwork without it needing to specifically match branding or promotional materials for an album or tour – which have more restrictions to match packaging, design styles, etc. Generally, they trust us not to just go off the rails and deliver something so off track it doesn’t belong.
But that’s usually why rock posters look a little cooler than merchandise designs. There’s more passion in it vs. having short deadlines for little pay. I did that type of work every day for 6-7 years. I learned a lot and now focus on my own brand for most of that type of stuff.
I did have to get a nod of approval, but it was first round. We didn’t need to go back and forth or anything.
Not looking for specifics but was it good money? Are they ok with you selling you own prints?
Payment for posters ranges in a lot of ways from project-to-project. Part of my payment were my prints to sell. When I do that type of job, I take a gamble on recouping my time into something profitable. If I only sell 5 prints and I put in a few days of drawing, designing and then making it print-ready for the screen-printing process … then it’s not great money. On the other hand, if they sell well, that’s usually significantly larger than the budget they would have to offer for what could turn out to be 20-40 hours of work.
The trick is trying to make something successful for everyone. For the band and for myself and most importantly, something that resonates with the audience so everyone is happy and hopefully wants one of these special collectible things we’ve made for the occasion.
How long was the entire process from selection to printing to delivery?
This varies from print to print. I am wrapping up something today that’s taken me a week and a half to get nailed down. Sometimes, it might take me a week just to do the drawing before I even get to the color and design phase.
For this one, I think I knocked out the main illustration in 2 days and then I think I spent another 2 getting the design nailed down and colors picked. I wanted them to compliment the other rabbit poster I did but have a little more action in it.
Then I spent a day making it print-ready. This means making it so for every single layer of color, if the paper is moved around just slightly, by the time the last keyline is put down, everything still looks good.
Usually, I do all of my prints. However, my workload has been nuts and printing the full 400 (band had 300 copies) 7-color prints would have taken 2 or 3 days out of my schedule as I generally print alone, so that means mixing the inks just right, moving each sheet of paper from stack to press, printing, moving it to a drying rack and then restacking. to start the process over for the next color.
I outsourced this job (to my friends at InHouse Stickers) so I could have those 2 or 3 days to work on another project while those were getting done. They ended up getting shipped to me about a week later.