The project will post tomorrow, the following is the project rational.
I went into this week expecting to make a poster that represented the Belle Epoque period and would be based on Toulouse- Lautrec. For a time I decorated my home with poster copies from this period and still hold a candle for the style. However, while reading our lecture a Currier and Ives image of P.T. Barnum and Tom Thumb struck me and became the inspiration for this weeks studio assignment.
During my research I discovered that circus posters are text heavy in their advertisements, outfits often combine to make “The Greatest Show on Earth”, there is a different typeface on nearly every call out. “ The range of faces used is sufficient to provide interest but not so outrageous as to cause confusion.” (Graphic Design History a Critical Guide) and since zoo’s were not yet popular the circus functioned as our way to discover the creatures of our planet. Because Fredrick Goudy was popular with the graphic industries in the late 19th I used Goudy old style as one of my fonts. “The durable versatility of typefaces designed by Caslon…was proven when they were reinterpreted for mechanized production by Linotype and Monotype machines in the nineteenth century.” It is For this reason I chose Adobe Caslon for a font in my poster. (Graphic Design History a Critical Guide page 113) Sans Serif fonts are used at least once on each of the posters I saw so I knew I wanted to use one on mine but I had a hard time finding one that I could be sure would be specific to the 19th century. I tried to find a free font that was derived from William Caslon but I couldn’t find one that had that in its description. I tired Gill Sands, however, it didn’t look right. I also tried Didot, I love the font and it is good for Display copy, but needed a sans serif and decided to go with Franklin Gothic. There is an image of Barnum with a typeface I set out to find a cousin of, I found Tightrope. The slab serif font has roots in the 19th century as well as a an quirky quality similar to the font on the poster that inspired the search. I like posters that have just one image and large beautiful display copy but couldn’t find a high enough quality piece to work with so I recreated one poster advertising a show focusing on equine marvels then settled on a poster depicting living oddities. Jumbo and Tom Thumb were iconic circus characters I recognize from history before any research. Chauncey Morlan intrigued me because, unfortunately, a person of this size is no longer considered rare or unbelievable. I found a clean lithograph in the Corbis image population under circus but the free download was too small so I took a screen shot and used that. I like this image vs. the actual Barnum Jumbo poster because it did not have any text I would need to remove before adding my own yet it sends the same message about the size and nature of the animal as the original.
I brought all the photographs into photoshop to make them black and white, and/or remove any text from the background. I created oval image frames on my indesign document to get the shape I was after then scaled them to fit within using transform. In illustrator I added a decorative brush stroke to an oval, reflected it, grouped it and set it on top of one final oval with applied brush stroke to make the frames for the images of Barnum, Tom Thumb and Chauncey Morlan. I reduced the opacity of the image of the lithograph to help the text pop yet used dark gray not black fill on the text because the rich black looked aided by modern technology to me. I made banners in illustrator but the poster I was reproducing didn’t host one so I decided to stay true to the original and use text spread across the top and bottom instead.
Work cited :
Wares, poster, 1830, Graphic Design History a Critical Guide