Legendary Jazz Club, Ronnie Scott's in Soho, London approached me to ask if I'd like to design and illustrate a poster for a street party they are throwing as part of their 60th Anniversary celebrations.
They wanted something bright, bold and representative of the diverse culture of Soho. The most important thing that it needed to be was fun. This was perfect - I love drawing large crowds of people moving and interacting and how much movement can you get at a jazz gig I wonder? Lots! I submitted several rough designs and luckily, my favourite got picked. I wanted to show people of all types having a good freestyle dance-off to quality jazz.
Look at all those people having a blast. My favourite are the two ladies obviously out on the town in the left hand corner. I wonder what they are saying?
The illustration had to go across several different formats, such as a digital banner - above. As such, when I created the artwork I made each character separately so they could be moved about as needed.
To reference their 60th anniversary I made this with a slight mid-century retro feel, reflected in the angles of the limbs of the people and also in the typography of the poster.
I must admit, my relationship to jazz and jazz clubs is hit and miss. My first encounter was on a school art trip to New York. Our teacher took us to the iconic Village Vanguard to see Wynton Marsails. It was brilliant - we all felt incredibly urbane sitting at the front sipping on cocktails and trying to look like we belonged. On a university illustration trip to Paris however I had a less pleasant experience, culminating in a stand up row with an angry, elderly Parisian 'gentleman' who accused us of sitting in the space where he customarily liked to dance. Other locals told us to stay put, which we duly did but it meant we got showered with both sweat and spittle while being treated to some of the most enthusiastic and out-there stomping/dancing I've ever had the
misfortune pleasure to witness.
I'm pleased to say my studio was not invaded by angry old men during this commission. I did stick a couple of jazz playlists on while I worked though and had a little boogie around.