Process and Philosophy: Love Poem Posters (Part 3)

Alien Love Poster

When I first shared this back in July [Work In Progress: Love Poem Sign] the idea was to design in a single color for letterpress and put all the verses of the poem [Process: Love Poem Poster (Part 1)], but soon decided to go a “text only” route fearing that it would look too cluttered with the idea that some parts would live on as illustrations for standalone prints, shirts, or postcards.

Above you can see a standalone print for the “We Come In Peace” line. If you recall from earlier posts, this started a little simpler:

Flying Saucer "Come In Peace" drawingI like some of the things that are going on in this. Since it involves flying saucers, the comic book layout seems most appropriate. I’m digging some of the halftones I used in the the top panel to add a little texture as shown in this closeup. However, the more I look at the updated flying saucer, the more I feel like it could stand to take on a little more detail and the angle should be more severe as shown in the original pen and ink sketch. Even though it has gained some detail from the original sketch, it somehow feels more boring and I feel the angle is part of that. The large blocks of red may be part of that as well.

Close up of Alien Love Poster

Below we have another work in progress. This is far from done, but gives some idea of the direction I’m heading:

Donate Blood Poster

What’s working here? I like the custom hand lettering for the words “Love Donates Blood.” Most of the rest of this is kind of rushed. Sometimes you just have to throw things together before you can refine it. The thermometer nestled in the word “sick” is nice, but I feel like I have to redraw both. My initial hand drawn sketch looked better than this, which was illustrated mostly inside the computer.

What isn’t working? More attention needs to be given to most words here, especially since this design is so type heavy. One thought was to have the word “injured” look less hand drawn and then break it up as if the word itself was breaking down or injured. In the meantime I threw a broken bone behind it which took all of five minutes to draw, scan, and import. It’s mostly a place holder. I’ve also considered incorporating a bandage and crutches in various ways. Maybe a hot water bottle could rest on top of the word “sick.”

Love Fights No Wars

Above is a quick mockup I did to see how readable the words would be. The word “love” is sort of a placeholder and even the “opens doors” hasn’t been given much attention. There have been designs for this section that include open doors, bombs falling, broken arrows, and mushroom clouds, but this tank is one of my favorites. This size is roughly a postcard format. With poster prints and t-shirts the number of colors used greatly impact the cost, but with higher volume mechanically reproduced postcards, going full color is not an issue as far as cost is concerned. Should postcard designs be limited to this two color scheme? I could look into having spot color screen printed post cards done, which would be a better product in my mind, but would result in me spending lots of hours over a paper trimmer and would require putting a higher price on them than digitally produced postcards. At 4″ x 6″ I can get 18 out of an 18 x 24 page, but I’d much prefer 5″ x 7″, which would yield only 9. Decisions, decisions.

The Philosophy of Love

Let’s get away from the design process and look at little bit at the philosophy behind this project. In Part 1 I broke down the words, but here they are again for reference:

Love will not yield, will not cease
Says, “Citizens of Earth, we come in peace!”

Opens doors, fights no wars

Takes creepy crawly spiders from the bedroom floor
And places them gently unharmed outdoors*

Gets together to study, does not grouse

Says, “Hey buddy, this one’s on the house”

Donate’s blood despite the needle’s stick

Because someone elsewhere is injured or sick

Says, “I’m going to quit smoking, eat right, and exercise more,

so I can stick around longer and help love flourish like never before.”

Wastes not and fixes broken components

Puts the toilet seat down (It takes just a moment)

Says, “Forget quarterly earnings and dollar amounts,
It’s our customers, employees, and long-term prosperity that counts!”

Is patient and is kind
Can not, will not, be left behind

Does not envy, does not boast

Helps dig ditches and mend fence posts

May not be all that we need,
But it’s the first ingredient to go in and what we need most indeed

Copyright 2015, John Everett Morton

*[At some point I got worried that too many people are too afraid of spiders and at times I have changed this line to “Waits not to help with chores/Takes out the garbages, sweeps and mops the floors”]

When I started to think about the problem of love and how we could use more in this world, I had to consider why this was an issue and why we’re so short on something that takes so little to produce and is so important to our well being. These were some of the issues I considered:

When we talk about love, too often we’re talking about romance: Certainly romantic love plays a part in our lives, but is it the most important kind of love? I feel like it dominates conversations about love and maybe that’s simply because romance is closely linked to sex and as the marketing adage goes, sex sells. To that end there is no mention of romance in my poem or in the imagery used.

Love is pushed on us as a feminine quality: Even when love is marketed as a compassionate quality towards others (instead of simply a romantic one), it is too often sold as a quality of and for women. Imagery of love conjures flowers, hearts, and lots of flowery script. One could argue that this is societal problem with gender issues and identity, but that’s a rabbit hole I don’t want to go down for this project. Instead much of my imagery skews towards masculine ideas (flying saucers, tanks, broken bones) or at least gender neutral ideas. I’ve intentionally strayed from cursive writing, pictures of hearts, and flowers.

Love is portrayed as weakness: This might tie in with why concepts of love as compassion are marketed towards women. It might also highlight further concerns about gender roles in society. In general I feel like men are pushed to be competitive at a younger age through sports and friendly (or not so friendly) exhibitions to prove their masculinity. And while I think there are benefits to learning team sports and improving oneself in any area, often things go too far. Can competition and compassion coexist? Is the default setting of human beings to compete or cooperate? There are lots of things to consider and this is something we could debate at length later, but my gut feeling is that love need not be considered a weakness and if we thought of it as a strength we would be better off for it.

While I have some further thoughts on this subject, I don’t need to share it all now. These three are a good start.

The Dilemma: Now What?

My hope was to launch a Kickstarter campaign to get some posters, t-shirts, and postcards printed. I’m not opposed to an old fashioned hustle, but the simple truth is that I’m low on funds. The plan was to start simply and raise funds to get one poster and one t-shirt design as well as some basic tools for my studio (paper trimmer, flat files, tables). Stretch goals would include getting additional designs printed as demand warranted. However, during the time at the end of December that I planned to work diligently on this project I contracted a pretty serious case of the flu. The result being that many of the designs above are still works in progress and not finalized.

Between drawing and designing sessions I did a considerable amount of research on Kickstarter. Here are some things that I found:

Timing Is Everything: Projects launched between Thanksgiving and Christmas don’t do so hot. That’s okay because I wasn’t quite ready. Campaign length is important too. Longer than 30 days tends to be less ideal. My plan was to launch January 15 and run a month until February 15, the day after Valentine’s Day. Since this project concerns ideas about love, it seems fitting, even if a little contrary to the ideas of love where Valentine’s Day is concerned.

Videos Are Everything Else: Projects with videos do much better than projects without videos. I’m often writing the script for my pitch in my head as I’m designing or driving, but haven’t written anything down or filmed anything.

No Wait, Rewards Are Everything!: I’ve backed a number of campaigns on Kickstarter so I’m biased when it comes to rewards. I look for a good value and appreciate getting something physical delivered to me. Most of the rewards I planned (postcards, t-shirts, posters) can be offered at value conscious price points while maintaining quality.

Launching the first week in February could work and running it until the end of the month. That still encompasses Valentine’s Day. This is where I could use a little bit of input. If you’ve got a minute I could use some answers to the following questions. Any extra insights or suggestions are appreciated:

1. Which part of the poem would you most like to see illustrated and/or hand lettered on a poster or t-shirt?

2. Would you be more likely to purchase (in order of cost) a package of postcards, a hand-pulled screen printed poster, or a t-shirt?

3. Would you be interested in some combination of those items at a savings over buying them all individually?

4. Would you be further enticed to pledge toward a campaign if you could see exclusive behind the scenes work on potential future projects?

If you can answer the four questions here, i will select a commenter at random to select one free item from my Etsy shop OR a custom guitar playing drawing! Additionally you can check out my Facebook Page to see how else you can win a guitar playing robot drawing. Thanks in advance for your comments!

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