James McMurtry has horrible concert posters. He's also kind of a scary guy, so I hope he's not reading this. When he was scheduled to play a show in Miles City, MT, I was left with the task of building intrigue for a guy who had poor promotional materials and who most locals had never heard of. If you're not familiar with James McMurtry, he's a master songwriter who can undulate between bitter commentary and poignant reflection within a single verse. His sound is pure roots Rock & Roll. His live demeanor is best described as confrontational. He's great.
The task of the posters had to be education rather than mere promotion. If they could convey McMurtry's sincerity, grit and craftsmanship, people might begin to accept his brilliance. His song lyrics embody those qualities. I chose lyrics that would resonate in the bars, saddle shops, and liquor stores where the posters would hang. I created large text arrangements, built with thousands of hand drawn lines on a black background to compliment the confrontationally raw yet meticulous nature of McMurtry's lyrics.
In certain parts of the country, the mere announcement of a Tommy Castro show would sell out a venue. In Miles City, Montana, that’s not the case. While he’s an extremely high caliber musician, his notoriety in Montana is quite low . Castro’s a wild blues man, know for his tight musicianship and electrifying live shows. Communicating his energy was key to peaking people’s interest in the show. I accomplished that with a crude pencil illustration of his disembodied, screaming head. I complimented that, while nodding to the tightness of his musicianship, with cleanly organized type.
The show was hit and so was the poster. Many of them were stolen.
Less than half of the population gets vaccinated for the flu. One of the reasons often cited is inconvenience. So, Blue Cross Blue Shield occasionally sponsors free flu shots in public spaces like grocery stores and college campuses where people can get vaccinated without disrupting their day. A bold announcement was needed. I used the a slight alteration of the Blue Cross logo in conjunction with their flu vaccination tagline.
Frontier Cancer Center needed to visually stand out in their market of Billings, MT. Practically, they already did stand out. They viewed cancer treatment as more than just a means to an end. They saw it as an opportunity to find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. They believed that even something as devastating as cancer could be approached with a positive outlook. They reinforced that attitude by keeping a small staff that personally learned about their patients and their needs. They saw each person as unique and specified their treatments to reflect that. They made special accommodations for families so the days at the treatment facility weren't disrupting precious time. They did everything they could to make the process an uplifting experience.
To visually tell that story we, at Flying Horse Communication, wanted to show the transformation of something devastating into something uplifting. We felt that the word 'can' embodied the attitude of Frontier and the attitude they supported in their patients. We pulled it out of the word 'cancer' by using a hand drawn scribble, representing the human touch triumphing over adversity. The mark sits over the model's faces, complimenting their expressions of determination and confidence.
Amongst the clutter of soft blue “feel good” healthcare ads in the Billings, MT area, Frontier’s story stuck out with the sense of confidence, strength and hope that it deserved.
The issue of Government subsidies to the Ethanol industry was going to be voted on by taxpayers. An ad campaign was needed to drive current and potential ethanol supporters to an info website that detailed the benefits of an ethanol based economy.
Coming from Eastern Montana, the oil vs renewable fuel debate hits close to home. Literally. The Buchan oil boom in western North Dakota is continually creeping closer to my home town of Miles City. While the national conversation is usually about economic vs ecological impact, the cultural devastation an oil boom has on small towns is rarely discussed. Quiet little communities helplessly watch as crimes dramatically increase and diversify in nature, the cost of living becomes unbearable, and a way of life swiftly erodes. When the cultural merits of the oil industry are compared to that of the ethanol industry, which is largely based on corn farming, it's a stark contrast. The goal of this concept was to rally support by giving voice to a frustration felt by many. But mostly, I really wanted to say "fuck" in an ad.