Toledo artists draft unique way to support bandsWritten by Joel Sensenig | | email@example.com
A Toledo company is giving music fans a more aesthetic concert souvenir option than an overpriced, barely worn T-shirt destined to take up real estate on the bottom of a dresser drawer.
Designers at Madhouse, a graphic arts firm located Downtown on Jackson Street, has begun creating and selling concert posters for rock shows in the region. In the past couple of years, Madhouse designers have done posters for bands such as Wilco, The Black Keys, Crowded House, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Explosions in the Sky, Bon Iver and Blitzen Trapper. Printings generally run from 50 to 400 posters, which Madhouse designers sell at the shows for $10 to 20 a piece (also available for sale on the company’s Web site, www.madmadmad.com under the “Capital A” link).
Madhouse graphic designer Alana Twelmeyer was drawn to concert posters in 2006 after working five years at the independent music store Finders Records in Bowling Green and Findlay.
“That kind of gave me my inspiration,” she said. “I saw so much that I liked and saw even more that I didn’t like, and I wanted to be a part of that. Since I’m not a musician, my job is to make things look pretty, and I decided [making posters] would be a really great marriage of talent and interest for me.”
After a makeshift print shop she started in her basement began to draw interest from her co-workers, Madhouse owner Bill Sattler incorporated more space for such projects in the 5,000-square-foot Jackson Street building, which the company moved into from its original Perrysburg location last year.
It didn’t take long for others at Madhouse – which typically tackles design jobs in the Web design, motion graphics and TV commercial realms – to follow her lead.
For the Toledo graphic designers, making concert posters is a labor of love, by all accounts.
And there is more to the process than simply pairing pretty artwork with a band’s name.
“I like to listen to the album to get a feel for the tone of the album,” she said. A music journalist friend in Chicago will often give her input as to how the band feels about their new album, and Twelmeyer blends the ideas into a themed portrait of the band’s sound. One poster she designed for a St. Andrews Hall (Detroit) show of indie band Explosions in the Sky features a stark portrayal of refinery stacks ascending into the gray sky. A popular choice among fans, the poster is sold out.
Twelmeyer believes concert posters appeal to a certain, more selective type of music fan.
As Madhouse states in the Capital A portion of its Web site (which has images of all the firm’s posters), “Like you, the kids of Capital A understand that ticket stubs and
t-shirts can’t capture that rock show spirit quite like a hearty piece of stock. It truly is nostalgia’s sweetest medium, and it’s why we handcraft each of our concert posters in convenient rectangular shapes just for you. Consider them the metaphorical family portraits of the musical kinships you’ve formed. Or just consider them pretty. Whatever works.”
Although concert posters are not likely to ever be the company’s focus, Sattler – who has made a couple posters himself – said the extra work creates a nice niche for Madhouse designers.
“It’s a personal thing for the designers,” he said of the five artists making up the Madhouse team. “It gives the designers a nice outlet to do creative stuff they want to do.”