Friday, August 08, 2008


Print: The Next Generation

The last few days have been taken up refining print for the big rice show in Birmingham. We are desperate for this to be a mass appeal event. The potential is there; the question is how to make this happen. It terms of print we think it means we need to move onto the fourth generation of publicity material.

The first generation was created before the show was ever performed, Craig’s marvellous map of the British Isles made of rice and a grain of rice in the palm of a hand circles with biro and ME written beside it. These images are serviceable but somehow feel too distant. The rice map especially suggests a show at odds with what people will actually see if they turn up.

The second generation came in post-Stuttgart. Using Ed’s haunting photographs of the rice piles from that show we moved onto images of large piles or rice. This felt like a step forward. These images must represent the show well, they are photographs of the show. In particular we fixed on a moody image of someone, we think it’s Sarah, stood in the mid-distance under skylights between rice mountains.

The third generation responded the demands of venues anxious that photographs of sculptural mounds of rice, with our without a blob that biscuit brown blob that may or may not be Sarah, don’t do the show justice. There was a grown demand for images of people, members of the public ideally ‘engaging with the show’. Make it look fun, was the subtext. By now more versions of the show had been performed and more photographs take. We circulated a selection of images showing the show being popular.

Promoting the show ourselves means we have to make the call for Birmingham images. We looked back at the approaches others had taken We particularly liked the Norwich and Norfolk Festival’s use of a sculptural image on the front with the slogan “Get Things In Perspective”, with, on the reverse, the hand – rice grain shot and “Come and Find Yourself” in there somewhere as a strap line. We decided to steal this basic approach.

Simon lobbied for the use of the Sarah Blob image and we added some third generation images to the reverse of the flier. It looked OK, good even but OK wasn’t enough and even good isn’t good if it’s arty good not bums on seats good. The thinking started to be looking at other people looking at rice isn’t the way to make the thing look attractive. We’re trying to communicate that this world version is a one-off and yet we’re using images of other versions in other places to promote it.

We agreed we needed a new approach, the fourth generation. We had agreed on a teaser campaign to trail the show. Karen suggested a simple set of images, close ups of individual grains of rice with celebrity names as they might appear in the show. These designs were looking good. Maybe the mail leaflet image should link more closely with these. Maybe we don’t need to see the show and instead focus in on the personal implications of the show, the ‘find yourself’ element. To this end adapting the hand / rice image made sense. Focus in on the Whole World element, talk about the scale, 112 tonnes.

With the four teaser postcards, the leaflet front and back, a variety of posters and an invitation card for the opening and a host of funding stakeholders needing to sign off designs there has been a lot of email traffic back and forth. Simon is based in Canada now. I thought I had a grasp on the time difference but that’s broken down a bit as I suspect he has been working unsocial hours and redrafts have been consistently around the clock.

I think we’re there now. The fourth generation harks back to the first generation but with more confidence and clarity. We understand the show now, how it works and why people like it. I hope everyone’s happy with what we’ve come up with. Late on I picked up a spectacular typo that would have rendered 1/4 of the teaser postcards unusable. If there are any more it’s too late, the presses are rolling and soon you can judge for yourselves.

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