A Vision of Jazz

Jazz is_Pulsating_Crop_Web_2

It is Jazz festival season here in Rochester, New York. From now until the end of summer, almost every moment of our good weather season is rich with every sort of festival and celebration. As a designer and an illustrator this season has my mind working overtime and I get the itch to create posters for the events.

During the 1960s and 1970s, American festivals and concert events were branded graphically with posters and T-shirts. These were powerful pop culture works of art, and they publicly displayed the unique creativity and designs of a growing community of home-grown visionaries. Their illustrations, photography and the interwoven elements of classic and modern design instantly connected the audience and the event. T-shirts became wearable art, often worthy of gallery display. Event posters once sold for a couple of bucks out of the back of VW bus, now fetch outrageous prices for originals and decorate the walls in art museums.

The medium is still the message, and poster design extends the vision of the artist and the experience of the event – far beyond the reach of a single human or epic concert performance. It is a physical embodiment of our shared culture.

So why are we not making posters like that anymore? In truth, there is no good reason. In our rush to promote digitally, in an entirely disposable, delete-able medium, we often forget about the power of the long-lasting print medium. The well-done poster has collectible value because it has sentimental value. It makes a timeless emotional connection to a set of cultural values.

But there is good news! The open canvas for big ideas still exists. The ability to execute them graphically, beautifully and affordably is still within our power, and stronger than ever before. The opportunity for the confluence of words and images to create a moving, almost underground language to influence a generation is there for the taking.

Looking at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, I began to wonder: “What is Jazz? How do I define it? How do you define it?” In my role as a graphic design provocateur insists, I believe I can further this discussion with a series of posters combining images and words that elicit our true feelings on the subject, based around the statement/question: “Jazz Is…”

I asked Charley Myers, Copywriter at Large, to create a list of words to be used as motivation for the design concepts and begin to sculpt out the many facets of what this uniquely American musical form is and can be.

I invite you all to contribute to this concept. Send me a link to your personal defining piece of Jazz music. Share with me your thoughts and images of what Jazz means to you. Help me extend the series to include all the possible sub-categories of music that make up this uniquely American musical genre.

Jazz is Mellifluous – Poster size 24″x36″
Digital / Traditional



One Response to “A Vision of Jazz”

  1. Tanna Piehl says:

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