What makes a “good” poster? Maybe you like it because you like the band. Maybe you were even at the show and are looking to relive an awesome night. But there can be so much more to it than that. Because there are posters that just make you stop and think, “wow” as you keep looking at them. Those, those posters are the great ones. They are art. And they don’t happen by accident.
While poster artists have incredible variety in their styles, many of them have similar processes. In interview after interview, gig poster artists talk about beginning any design by listening to the music. Often artists find a specific song on an album to be the biggest inspiration for their design. They all perceive the music differently (being humans and all), and different artists will have different interpretations and parts of the music that capture their creativity.
From there, it becomes a matter of translating that inspiration into images that can be produced with screen printing. All aspects of the design are influenced by the music: any central images, color palettes, and often little details that are easily missed at first glance. The best artists will also incorporate details that are specific to the gig as well. They will begin with the location- motifs that are identifiable to the country/state the gig is in, and then often incorporate some aspect of the venue as well.
Sometimes, in really special cases, the inspiration flows in both directions: One of the most famous examples is the work Rob Jones has done for both Jack White and The White Stripes. The visuals Jones created for the posters helped to influence the aesthetic of the band. When Todd Slater began designing posters for Jack White, he got feedback from Jones as well as White.
The result is a poster that is both a piece of art, and collectible memorabilia from a gig. Collectors can enjoy both reliving their favorite concerts, and the purely aesthetic beauty of the poster. A good gig poster is a piece of art in and of itself.