by Faith Bennett
AIGA Jax’s 3rd annual It’s Always Summer Poster Show and Mix Tape kicked off the fall season in September at the Thief in the Knight art space with some of Jacksonville’s most talented graphic artists. The premise of the show was that each poster on display was the artist’s envisioning of one of the songs on the Always Summer mix tape, bringing together music and graphic design. The event drew quite a crowd of artists and art admirers. An active member of AIGA, Varick Rossette says, “People really come out of the woodwork for this.”
Coming out of the woodwork meant artists wearing fall sweaters and suit jackets for the first time this season as they milled about the art space sipping free PBR. It would not be a stretch to say that half the visitors wore glasses and/or tight jeans, meaning that, as far as hipsters go, Always Summer was a treasure trove. The artists there, however, were far from the disaffected, unmotivated movie stereotypes of Generation Y. In fact, it would be hard to find a crowd in Jacksonville of brighter and more motivated young professional artists. One of the artists who came “out of the woodwork” was JU professor Mark Smith. Smith created a digitally rendered portrait of an adolescent boy in shades of blue to represent emo band Mae’s song ‘Sometimes I Can’t Make it Alone.’ Other artists, like J.T. Felix, who used charcoal and digital typeface to illustrate Modest Mouse’s ‘Tiny Cities Made of Ashes,’ are still students. Artists of varying ages and acclaim came to display, and all brought laudable work, from the trio of ‘The Adventures of Raindance Maggie’ posters to Jim Ward’s 3D poster for ‘Moves Like Jagger.’
It was inspiring to see the wide variety of aesthetics used to create the pieces. Though most of the artists are graphic designers by trade, some, like Marissa Carta Ratliff, Nikki Haywood, and Brandon Santiago, blended digital work with more traditional techniques. There were even artists who kept digitally rendered graphics entirely out of the equation: Lauren Hussey’s wordless painting for The Tallest Man On Earth’s ‘The Garden’ won third place, and Caroline Zwicker used a stencil to create a unique piece for ‘Pretty In Pink’ by the Psychedelic Furs.
AIGA merchandise and promotional material was as abundant as the free PBR offered to attendees, making it easy for nonmembers to discover the plentiful benefits offered upon joining AIGA. AIGA Jax’s current vice president, Patrick Carter, said that this year was the best turnout the Poster Show has attracted thus far. While the attention brought to AIGA was wonderful, the other impressive accomplishment of the Poster Show was how it demonstrated the integration of different art forms. DJ Mowgli (Ian Latchmansigh), DJ Squints (Dennis Eusebio), and DJ Vulture (Varick Rosette) played every song there was a poster for, but played only short segments of each song so visitors who didn’t stay long would have more of an opportunity to experience the art to its fullest by hearing the inspiration. Later on in the night, as passersby quit passing by and guests began to stay, the DJs spun more songs that were not on the Mix Tape but had the same summer vibes.
A third art form used for inspiration was cinema. Posters like those by Ben Windsor (who did ‘Rose’ by Outkast), Brian Nelson (who represented ‘Night Call’ by Kavinsky), and Bradley Alcorn (who chose ‘Comin Home’ by Murder By Death), all cleverly mimicked movie posters.
Stephanie Soden’s piece for Passion Pit’s ‘Moth Wings’ was also impressive as it appeared reminiscent of iconic covers of Kurt Vonnegut novels designed by Carin Goldberg.
All in all, the event could in no way be summarized as anything less than a success. It provided artists a chance to socialize with friends and enjoy music in a relaxed and spacious environment, while experiencing the best showcase graphic design Jacksonville has to offer. And if the finale of the Always Summer weekend was to be any indicator of the routine affairs of the association, then AIGA’s events are well worth checking out and AIGA is well worth the membership.
AIGA's 3rd Annual Always Summer Poster Show & Mix Tape
by Faith Bennett