Two designers team up to promote a beloved band with a bang. Here's the story of how their killer gig poster design came together.
After Tommy Sheehan of TOMMYINK crafted the branding for the inaugural Buckle Up Music Festival in Cincinnati, he wanted to create a series of limited-edition gig posters to commemorate six of the 80 artists playing at the event, including Old Crow Medicine Show. Sheehan teamed up with Keith Neltner of Neltner Small Batch, located in nearby Camp Springs, Ky., to add another layer of collaboration and excitement to the poster series. They worked closely with the bands' promoters and sold the posters exclusively at the music bash last year.
Neltner says he and Sheehan were especially eager to do something special for Old Crow Medicine Show because the band's straightforward and honest ethos lined up with both designers' creative sensibilities.
During their research, Sheehan and Neltner found a series of vintage Winchester targets featuring rabbits, squirrels and crows. "We thought it was a fitting and fresh way to interpret Old Crow Medicine Show," Neltner says.
After meeting in person for a sketch and idea-generation session, the duo settled on a direction for the gig poster design. They then passed images and illustrations back and forth virtually to work out the meticulous details. The final poster features a hand-drawn inky black crow whose wing doubles as a series of targets. The designers included space to record your name, number of shots, firing distance and score – and then took it a step further.
After screen printing and hand-numbering the 35 gig posters, Sheehan and Neltner tacked them to a tree one by one and used a pistol to shoot bullet holes through each print."Obviously, other artists had done crows before, but we liked the idea of interacting with the poster," Neltner says. "Any time we can physically affect a print, it adds an artifact quality to the end piece.
Priced at $35 each, the limited-edition Old Crown Medicine Show gig posters sold out quickly. Some fans began offering hundreds of dollars for the one hanging in the merchandise booth. And the designers are still receiving requests for the poster months after the event. "It's a traditional image that demands a reaction," Neltner says. "We have a reaction to things with targets on them."
The Old Crown Medicine Show gig poster design is a testament to both of the designers' dedication to thinking through every small detail from the illustration to the typography to the screen-printing process. "This was a moment in time when two artists came together, nearly shooting one another, barely surviving, for the sake of art," Neltner says with a laugh. "We love that."
For more on poster design, check out our interview with gig poster guru John Foster.
Images courtesy of Tommy Sheehan and Keith Neltner.