Every year the city of Detroit hosts a weekend long jazz festival,
the largest of its kind in the world, downtown in Hart Plaza. It’s
held during labor day weekend, so not only is it popular amongst
jazz enthusiasts, it also appeals to college students like Jeff who
have just returned to school and don’t really have anything to do
yet. Oh yeah, it’s also free.
I’ve probably listened to jazz maybe three times in my life, so I
wouldn’t call myself a fan, but I always had a great time every year
I went. The music was great, but that’s not what compelled
me to come back each year. What really attracted me to Jazzfest
was the mood and the crowd: thousands of people I had never
met before who treated each other like they were lifelong friends.
So when I had the opportunity to design a poster for the festival
in 2015, I didn’t want to create something to appeal to fans of jazz
music — they were already going to go because of the name; I
wanted to design it for the people like me who may not go for the
music alone, but rather what jazz represents for the city and the
people of Detroit. It’s not just music, it’s the embodiment of raw
emotion, improvisation, escape, freedom, and community
manifested through the artist and their audience.
In order to communicate this, I based the poster's design off the
most basic, literal (and dull) representation of jazz: sheet music.
While the final rendition retains more than enough for the viewer
to recognize it as a sheet of music, I was able to recontextualize it
through the distortion and dismantling of it's structure to suggest
the idea that jazz may be about more than they assumed;
perhaps there may be more to jazz music than the music itself.