The most interesting contribution underground metal and punk made to the world of design was in my opinion the DIY cut-and-paste aesthetic of many early posters, demos and fanzines. Although nowadays we oftentimes cheat and use Photoshop and digital cameras instead of scissors and photocopiers, the spirit of the old days remains in many designs.
When making this quick poster (it took me only a couple of hours) for a local gig with primitive Brazilian black-thrashers Grave Desecrator, an old-school look was really the only option. I mean, when the logo and band photos look like that, what else are you realistically going to do with them? Weathered, crooked Cloister Black, Helvetica and hand lettering are certainly staples of the genre, and some might call them overused, but much like is the case for the music: if it worked in 1984, it’ll probably still work today.
Consider the screen image a simulation. The actual artwork has a white background; I requested it be printed on yellow paper. Pretty sure it’s going to look pretty awesome that way.
Another old picture, this one is also from 2009. I have not been very active with my photography recently, for some reason. Anyway; some pretty severe blacks going on in this picture. I tried printing it at one point, but were unable to get satisfactory results; I should probably try using proper colour profiles and calibrating my monitor.
This picture comes from a roll of Ilford XP2 Super exposed some time in 2009. It was taken at an abandoned ball park/sporting grounds in Umeå that has now been leveled to the ground to make way for new housing.
For my latest commission, I was asked to present, in time for Christmas celebrations on the 24th, the first four bands for the annual local outdoor gig/festival Ume-Metal Open Air. This time, I haven’t done much work – the amazing background artwork is by my buddy Ricky Jonsson again. All I really did was indulge further in my Futura Light abuse and re-use a slightly altered version of a logotype I made for UMOA 2011.
Because the design is so simple, there’s honestly little to be said about it. One thing that always gives me trouble in situations like this involves the lower couple of centimeters of the poster; it is the difficulty of having to include company logos of different sizes, shapes and colour into a reasonably coherent “sponsor area”, especially in a clean-ish design such as this, where I want to do as little as possible to obscure or disturb the background image.
Since there are more bands to come, this is not the final version of the poster. When I look at it now, I already want to push logos around a few pixels to and fro… I can be really obsessive about positioning!
Close-ups of flowers and leaves have been done to death, of course, but this fragile little still life (produced by nature) I felt was too good to miss. Here, I used a thoroughly beat-up Chinon 50 mm lens with some sort of extension tube to get the picture. The focus plane is seriously thin but most of the leaf is in focus – although maybe on the cheesy side, I really like this picture in every way. Again, I think it’s the colours that make it work.
It’s strange how I tend heavily towards black and white photography these days, but when I look back at my past pictures, in the ones I like most, the colour is the dominant feature of the image.
A promotional poster I made for a play performed by a local school, Sex roller söker en författare (Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore in the original Italian) by Luigi Pirandello. The design work is intentionally sparse and low key.
The photography was a bit more involved, with a composition playing on the two different families (one from the distant past, one contemporary) that the story revolves around, hence the concept with the framed, old-looking picture.
Getting the background right, and the desired shallow depth of field, was a challenge in the room provided to me. I think I ended up using my Sigma 28 mm f/1.8 and a single on-camera flash bounced off the tall ceiling, which worked out pretty well in the end. Doing a posed photo shoot was fun to try for a change!
An older photo from June 2010, being an abstract take on a forest close to home. I am very happy with the colours in this one; more often than not I find it is the colours & tones that “make” a picture for me.
One thing that appeals immensely to me is truly minimal nature/landscape photography, and apparently I am not alone in my love of that style as the recent sale of the world’s most expensive photograph proves. This picture of reflections of winter trees in Umeälven is one of my better examples of the style. Although the technical quality is less than ideal, the feel more than makes up for it.
This was taken on March 4, 2009, with a 5 dollar lens – the Auto-Chinon 135/2.8 in K mount.
For this hardcore punk/metal gig poster, I tried a slightly more advanced take on the DIY cut-and-paste aesthetic common to punk and underground metal posters and artwork. I printed out all the text and logos on paper, cut them out with a pair of scissors, crumpled them up, scratched them, stomped on them and so forth before scanning them back into Photoshop. Most of the detail cannot be seen in this small version, but there are lots of pretty little imperfections in everything.
Some people replicate grunge effects in Photoshop, but personally I think there’s no substitute for the real thing. If something’s supposed to look like a crumpled-up piece of paper, the best thing is to actually make it a crumpled-up piece of paper.
Microgramma is a superb typeface that saw some pretty severe over-use in the mid to late seventies and early eighties, which not coincidentally is when punk was at its height, and then again in the mid 90’s. It looks pretty dated today, which of course is why I decided to use it. The colour scheme is pretty unorthodox too which, again, was intended. I think it works.
Made for an exhibition of artwork made by the students of Umeå Waldorf school. The watercolour brush strokes are actually free Photoshop brushes (one of the sets from here, though embarassingly enough I’ve forgotten which set exactly. Thanks to the author, though.) Although the strokes themselves are ready-made, I struggled a lot with the colour palette and the placement of the strokes. I think I achieved some pretty decent compositional balance in the end.
The idea was to make the poster contemporary-looking, suggesting art and creativity while not being too specific, as the pieces on display varied from paintings to sculptures and various handicraft. The typeface is Museo Slab, by exljbris Font Foundry. A beautiful typeface, to be sure, although I’ve already started noticing signs of the Museo family being over-used in Swedish magazines…
When designing posters for metal festivals or concerts, using band logos in the layout is often a requirement. From a design standpoint, that presents numerous challenges since the logos for the different bands are often more than a little stylistically incompatible, and receiving them in web resolution is more a rule than an exception.
A few times I have managed to avoid the use of logos, and the result is often better, as it affords much more creative freedom and a more coherent style. This example was made for a small event (strictly no alcohol, hence the cheesy name) in Umeå, with six bands playing wildly different styles: from glammed-out hard rock to brutal death metal and progressive jazz black metal. The design of this poster is a little bit more light hearted than something like Forlorn Fest called for, but I had great fun with the lettering this time.
The band name lettering is based on a typeface, but has been printed out, mutilated, reassembled, drawn over and modified with pen and paper, then scanned back in. It’s the little things that count.
Bands in this genre are intimately and intrinsically connected to the idea of death, and often concerned with ancient rites and religious symbolism. The poster was made to reflect these interests.
The rather overt idea of putting Death himself on the poster was the promoter’s, but to amplify the sinister feel, the colour scheme is based on a sickly, pale yellow (very death-like) and purple, a colour traditionally associated with penitence and mourning.
The worn paper texture and torn edges suggest ancienty, but these traditional black metal form elements are contrasted by the use of some very clean Futura type. Futura, of course, was heavily used in the 90’s when black metal was arguably at its peak, so there’s another (far-fetched) link…