Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fiddler on the Roof Poster

Fiddler on the Roof- Digital Over Graphite, by Greg Newbold
For several years I have done at least one poster for Pioneer Theater Company. They are the regional professional theater here in Salt Lake City and always do a knock up job on their productions. I like to support the arts here in town and they are kind enough to supplement the budget by throwing in a few show tickets. This year I was offered  the chance to create a new poster for this season's production of Fiddler on the Roof. I enjoy a good challenge and the task at hand here was to create a piece of art that would be both iconic and recognizable but fresh at the same time.

As I scrolled through the dozens of Fiddler poster versions I found online, I realized that almost all of them depicted the "fiddler" sawing away while perched precariously on the roof. I find nothing inherently wrong with going with the status quo, but I wanted to do something that might separate this production from the countless other versions out there. I came up with three idea sketches that I proposed to the theater.

The first one was to be a close up of the protagonist Tevye that would focus simply on his face in a tight crop. I really liked this idea and was hoping this would be the favorite. I didn't find any other versions of Fiddler that employed this idea.

My second sketch was the typical fiddler shot but a little closer in than the long shot which allowed me to give the guy a lot of expression and character. This one was my second favorite and I felt like this would be another decent approach if it was chosen.

My third idea was the classic typical approach with the fiddler perched on a rooftop holding his violin. I played with the shapes of the figure in this one with the intent of taking a more graphic approach than normal to give it a different look than the rest of the posters I saw during my research.

I hopefully launched all the ideas off to the client and fully expected one of them to fly. I was a bit behind schedule already, so I needed to jump on the final rendering quickly. Well, two and a half of the ideas were shot down cold. It was felt that idea one would be too easily confused with Santa Claus. I disagree as the beard color in the final rendering would not have been white, but OK. One down, I still had two options left. Idea three died a fiery death because the  graphic approach was deemed to feel too much like a children's theater production than a full fledged professional theater offering. Understood. Now it was down to number two. In my zeal to do something new, I had forgotten that Tevye never actually plays the fiddle in the production, so it didn't make sense to portray what appeared to be the protagonist (Tevye) as the player. We agreed to adjust the idea and deep six the violin. I submitted a new drawing which was approved.

Final Approved Idea
Because of the different crops needed for the various advertising applications, I needed to add significant acreage to the sides and a bit to the top and bottom to give several cropping options. I rendered out the black and white drawing in full value and then started adding the color.

The final color version took about three days working time to complete and I am pretty happy with the result. I think it's a very classic looking approach to  a well known musical but at the same time, I think it is quite different than most of the posters I have seen. I feel like I got the balance right.

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