It's the time of year again for me to go, 'holy hell is it that time of year again?', aka Summer Campaign time. Actually I say that for every campaign.
I start with research. Actually I start with, 'what am I preoccupied with at the moment?'. You have have SOMETHING to put into Google, and fueling the creative process with your own passions and fascinations can provide the fuel to get past the incredibly difficult blank page stage.
So because I recently had a wonderful trip to Toronto and New York, my current obsessions are those cities and travelling generally. The cities themselves are probably a non-starter for summer themes (though I do mean to check up on what I've been told about Toronto being really beautiful in summer), but travelling is a great prompt for Summer. I had such a good time everything from freezing my feet off in the snow to flying coach has acquired a warm glow of romance. My googling has been 'reading in planes and trains' and 'vintage travel posters'
(Also 'what superhero movies are out this summer' in a vague thought for the children's suite I probably won't go with).
The travel poster images I've grabbed are the ones that suggest a particular idea: could I create a romantic, exotic cityscape from books? I've drawn buildings made of books before.
But beginning to sketch I haven't got very far with that idea, it's one that needs to percolate in my head and in the meantime it's more productive to work up simpler ideas that might be equally effective: the reading-while-travelling idea.
It does appeal; I like to go for less obvious angles on obvious subject matter, I think a summer poster that shows someone on a plain will grab the attention more than the more obvious image of someone reading on a beach. The subject offers a nice opportunity for contrasting colour and dramatic lighting as well - the bright blue of the sky through the window and the high contrast shading falling on the person reading.
I love the composition of a single large figure with handwritten text framing them, usually with some kind of decorative element bursting forth but a otherwise plain background. For instance, the Tamora Pierce covers I posted about yesterday very much follow the pattern, and my adult Autumn creative for 2016 is one of my favourites from my archives (the decorative element is the light generated by the book throwing dramatic light on the woman's face and underside of the umbrella). My 2015 Spring children's creative uses the same trick.
It's one that works really well for Waterstones, especially in windows. The thing about books is that they are busy little rectangles without much visual impact from a distance. Giving them a backdrop of big, simple dramatic imagery and words draws the eye and makes them look more interesting by sheer contrast.
Buuutttt we did use the idea only two campaigns ago though, and while it's worth repeating ideas that work you don't want to end up looking dully repetitive. And in any case it's too early to commit to an idea. So on with the sketching.
The second idea here doesn't spring from any research but from staring vacantly around my room letting thoughts slosh in and out of my consciousness (a vital part of the process! Or at least one I faithfully repeat every time). In no particular order the idea of a typography-led poster, and the idea of a reversable poster, came to me. I think I'd been looking at images of how my posters are used in shops and thinking it was a shame that we can't offer more variety of images without pushing up the print budget and time to produce. Sometimes shops have no choice but to out two identical posters next to each other and however proud I am of the posters themselves, it has the inevitable result of making them look corporate and thoughtless.
Meanwhile sometimes I see a shopt that has (accidentily?) left up an old campaign poster alongside new stuff and often it looks rather nice. Variety automatically makes the shops look more curated and cared for. Ironically.
So what if we produce a single poster for each format as ever, but with options on how booksellers hang them? I think it will immediately be an engaing idea to both booksellers and - at least subcosciously - to passing customers. It's kind of fun.
Since this is idea-first I'm going to do a little research to prompt development of the idea. I'll look at my favourite typography-led designers - Andy Smith, Sam Bevington, Maria Holmer Dahlgren etc.
Oh and start having thoughts about the kids' stuff, assuming this will all be for the grown-ups...