ClientH.P. Lovecraft Historical Society
Duration1 week - Summer 2013
During my time in the Graphic Design Residency Program at the Rhode Island School of Design, a requirement of the residency was to make a poster for a local cultural event. A fan of sci-fi and horror, I looked into the Providence NecronomiCon, a convention celebrating the works of author H.P. Lovecraft, and noticed that there were no advertising materials for an associated event, Ars Necronomica, an exhibition of visual arts inspired by the author’s work.
Realizing the event was only weeks away, I contacted the organizers from the HP Lovecraft historical society and I made a poster, visually translating themes from the author’s work as well as the classical aesthetic of the event venue,the Providence Athenaeum, a historic library built in 1838. Upon presenting my work to the event’s organizers, it was used to advertise the event and so well received by attendees it was sold, in addition to the works of art displayed, in order to generate funds for literacy programs in local schools.
The main request of the client was that the poster, like the art being displayed, reflected the themes present in Lovecraft’s literature. Through background research, including interviewing conference attendees, and organizing the insights into an affinity diagram, I determined these to be:
- Fear of the Unknown
- Strange Fiction
- Return to New England
As the athenaeum is an iconic Providence landmark and central to the identity of both Lovecraft and the event, I chose to include a photo of the Athenaeum on the poster. In past interviews with Athenaeum staff, I learned the building was central to the structure of the town during its early years, so similarly decided to use it the building’s structure as the central grid of my poster.
In selecting the typefaces I considered the well-read audience who would be likely to attend the event and the context of the event’s kick-off location, the Athenaeum, as well as possible places around Providence the poster might be displayed.
The well-read and educated audience who would be likely to attend the event lead me to explore classic serif fonts frequently used in book design such as Garamond, Caslon, Sabon, Jenson, Minion, and Baskerville for the poster’s body text.
In order to maintain an elegant appearance conform with the classical architecture of Providence, as well as Didone lettering used on signs around the Athenaeum, I chose Didot as the font for the “ARS” type used as image. In order to contrast the varying line weight present in Didot as well as to match the x-height and create a harmonious pairing with the Jenson used for the body text, I chose and older, less-frequently seen sans-serif font, Akzidenz Grotesque.
After my first set of mockups failed to communicate the complexity and strangeness of Lovecraftian fiction, I decided to make some photomontages from the photos I had taken from my trip to the Athenaeum. In using this brainstorming technique, I hoped it would be possible to realize new relationships in form so as to create an appropriately more unique composition.
Increased in the luminosity and contrast of the Photoshop composition as well as adding color overlays to geometric shapes found within the collage lead to the dynamic final image used as the poster’s background.