My name is Dom, and the purpose of this site is very simple – a place to honor, analyze, dissect, and critique something I hold near and dear to my heart: entertainment design, and marketing. I start this journey with a question for you, reader. Picture your favorite show. Play or musical. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?
If you’re like me, chances are it’s the artwork.
Whether you’re listening to a cast recording, thumbing through the script of your favorite play, or waiting in your seat to take in The Book of Mormon for the sixteenth time (no judgment, this is a safe space), the first thing you’re bound to see when you pull up that Spotify search, take that script off the shelf, or grab that playbill from the kindly usher in the Eugene O’Neill is the artwork. The artwork is the very face of the piece, and within its contents should be held everything you know and love about it. It’s pretty much the first thing we see before we decide to attend a show. Before we even know what it’s about. That first impression is vital to a show’s success and also plays a part in how long its legacy will last. Okay, sure, there are lots of other factors like stars and creatives tied to the production, but you can bet that those names will be in huge bold type at the top of the poster and their faces will be on it, too. Sometimes, begrudgingly, that takes priority over the work altogether but more on that later.
My point is that it is so very important that the imagery is carefully designed in order to (and remember these terms!) symbolize, summarize, and advertise a show. Achieve all three of these criteria and in my opinion, you’ve got a brilliantly designed marketing tool (Hamilton, Rent, and Miss Saigon come to mind). Miss one, and you’re still pretty likely to sell your show, but know that we designers may grumble when we walk past your box office.
In every post, I’ll be highlighting a new key artwork from a production that either has come and gone or is still playing to this day. I plan to do as much research as possible to give a factual synopsis of its creation. This can mean anything from the studio, firm, or artist from which it came, it’s palette, process, design principles, historical influences (when applicable), and other fun tidbits that I believe make the work great or at least notable. This also might result in some light criticism, but again, the first and foremost goal for this page is to honor the work at all times.
I want to make one thing perfectly clear before we begin, this is not now nor will it ever be a platform on which I trash someone’s work. I may not agree with something created based on my own taste or opinion, but my objective is not to bash. I want to bring to light things about theatrical artwork design that work really well and touch on things that may not be as strong purely for constructive and educational purposes. I don’t know everything about design, and I hope I never do. I just have so many things to say on the subject and need to get them out. If you’ve got something to add, argue, or bring into the discussion feel free to do so in the comments section!
I hope you enjoy this as much as I will, reader. We’re in this together now. Are you ready? Here we go!