Place an attractive female in the centre in a sexually suggestive dancing pose, splash some cool colours around and make sure the composition is heavily symmetrical. Looking at lists of ‘best’ / ’hottest’ / ’coolest’ etc. nightlife posters such as this one suggests that these are the sole guidelines for success in the design of nightlife marketing. OK, sometimes you can replace the girl with a tiger, but that’s about it.
Or is it?
We believe not. There is actually more to nightlife marketing design, today as much as ever. We recognize the importance of design when it comes to marketing events. That’s because of the sheer amount of designs that flow through GateMe every day with the number of events that we register. The rules – and insufficiencies – of nightlife marketing are clear as the skies today (that is, exceptionally clear!).
Alex Miranda, founder of The Creative Complex, says that he regards the event flyer as a “new and rising art form”. That of course is not very accurate – nightlife-design-as-art has existed in the past. It might be more fitting to say that today, what could have been called ‘the art of the poster’, seems to be all but gone. This is an air from a different universe, a memory of poster art long forgotten: Todd Trexler, 1970s San Francisco underground, each poster a piece of art. Pretty much everything has changed between there and then and here and now: the music, the fashion, the clubs, the drugs, the aesthetics of the everyday, contemporary art, global issues, designing techniques. But the basic purpose remains: make the event an icon. Todd Trexler understood the creation of a visual, stylistic brand better than many today, as he created posters for event series.
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The grounds haven’t changed at all, though there might be more glitter around these days. It’s in the details: every feature has its own specific purpose (for example, a lace of glow effect for directing the viewer’s eyes and creating “feelings of creativity, technology, magic and fantasy” – yes, there is an article dedicated to this!). And, more importantly, it’s in the planning, strategy, long-term development of ideas.. In short, everyone needs a concept – and a brand that goes with it.
Consistent branding? Why?
‘Why is branding important?’ you ask. ‘I’ve been designing my promotion day-to-day, I change designers week from week – they’re alright, the club’s alright’, you say. Well, attracting a crowd for a one-off event is one thing. Establishing a memorable image in people’s minds which will ensure a long life for your night (and for your club) is, however, a whole other issue. Consistent branding is key, and more and more (but still not enough) event organizers understand this well. There is a whole science behind how and why we need to have the brand features shot at us time and again until they become one with the actual event. We could however also just say a branded event is a buoy in the stormy ocean of information in which we, the creations of the age of ADD, are trying to navigate our hyperactive boats. The only way we can notice an event and choose it to become our harbour for a crazy night is for it to have the air of a shelter – in this case, a familiar and experience-promising brand.
Anyone who hasn’t given branding of their events much thought yet should check out this article from The Creative Complex.
Uniqueness, art, nightlife marketing
There is a number – still relatively small, but growing – of designers who explicitly state the vision of consistent branding as one of their priorities. One of them is Alex Tass, whose expressive, quite unique work is definitely worth seeing: skillful, colourful and recognizable, it is actually aesthetically pleasing – an ambition that much of what we see every day seems to have left out.
But work like Alex’s doesn’t have to remain so rare for long. The Creative Complex has launched a nightlife graphic design gallery, and with good reason. To paraphrase Alex Miranda, inspirator, founder and owner, a great event flyer can become a powerful brand and an individual art piece at the same time, and this notion is coming back to the forefront. The first physical exhibition took place in Miami in December 2012 and it does not look like this will be the end of the story!
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