By Elaine Gyde
Gig posters are one way that art and music careen into each other. Plastered over walls throughout the city, they shout (or whisper) that Hamilton has bands! Hamilton has music! Hamilton is cool! You just need to get out there and see for yourself. Gareth Schott is the mastermind behind some of my favourite posters, so it was a real privilege to hear from him about how he works and his thoughts on that sometimes temporal element of music: the band aesthetic.
Objectively- how important is to have a poster that looks good for getting people in the door? Yeah, a lot of posters are driven by the information but with some artists and designers you can recognise a style - Dean Ballinger has distinctive personality in his style. When you're sitting in a cafe there's a vast array of posters so it's important to be engaging then details come second, because if you see an engaging image you go away and research the band. Sometimes the response to my posters has been surprising, people have asked for posters they liked. One of the first gigs I went to was the Stone Roses in London, who had done a cover where they were covered in paint, inspired by Jackson Pollock. Jackson Pollock was actually a big influence on their work- they were in a record contract that they wanted to get out of so they actually splattered the studio with paint. It was what made me check out Jackson Pollock's work.
What's your perspective on the role band posters have on the landscape and feel of Hamilton city? Posters can be a constant presence and reminder that there is activity and so they're important in that sense, otherwise you can miss what's going on plus posters last beyond the gig since they often don't get taken down. It's a reminder that performance is a temporal thing within a limited space and time and length but a poster can be forever. They're a cheaper equivalent to a band tee shirt.
How do you start each poster and is matching the band or producing something visually impressive a priority? The style of the band is important and I tend not to go too far outside of my own taste in music but it depends on the gig often. Bands are quite often distinctive on the bill like I went to the Hollow Grinders gig, who have a completely different sound from His Masters Voice and so turning that into a poster can be a challenge. Trying to focus on one thing and working from there is usually helpful.
You moonlight as a university academic in your spare time, how do you think you get more university students involved and excited about the local music scene?
I don't think I see many students at gigs, I think though that the Hamilton music scene has been revitalised by people like those involved with the Hamilton Underground Press and Ivan at the Nivara and they're all doing an amazing job.
It's important though that my students see you're doing stuff - that you're still immersed in creative things. When I was at university I wanted to go to art school but I studied a social science/psych degree pushing back to work as a creative psychologist for five years.
How do you work around obstacles in your poster design? I think you have to be more creative working around obstacles. I don't have a great imagination- so often the drawings I do come out of intuitive feeling. I do have a photographic memory which helps because I can remember images that I've seen but usually the jumping off point can be an assemblage of different things, influenced by other bands.