The full breadth of 2016 is about to see its final hour. This list, a collection of ETDC’s favorite posters of the year, all share a commonality — that touch of the experimental, the unique.
This is not a beauty contest but something connected to the constant push of time, a timeline that will end up in the archives of illustration, design, and printmaking. 2016 saw new arrivals and new favorites as well as the old guard trying something new.
Here’s to 2017.
‘Good Luck’ by Ben Lafond
‘Good Luck‘ by photographer and printmaker Ben LaFond made its premiere at this year’s MondoCon at the Burlesque of North America, where LaFond acts as full-time printer. The poster is a two color screenprint based on one of LaFond’s photographs, a horseshoe crab suspended, an echo of a specific time — a specific dot on the map.
The method of screen printing for a photograph is an interesting choice, but Lafond’s commitment to his craft results in a strange melange of realist texture and analog distortion, a thing of simple strangeness that I have not yet wrapped my cave-brain around.
‘Lady With a Hat’ by Thomas Danthony
The illustrations of Thomas Danthony transport the audience into a sophisticated and timeless age. ‘Lady With a Hat’ enters his catalog of work with an air of Édouard Manet in the touch of the everyday. Danthony is a master of color and minimalist realism and this poster released by Black Dragon Press is a showcase of his skills, perfected.
‘Kenai Fjords National Park’ by Matthew Woodson
This poster from Matthew Woodson for the Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series is a real place, yet his illustration feels foreign. Alien. It’s cold and isolated. Woodson made a poster for an Alaskan destination I had never heard of and placed it as a priority vacation. His composition is a quiet epic — a rock in full on Jesus Christ pose.
‘The Graduate’ by Rory Kurtz
This image of Benjamin Braddock, unwitting anti-hero and youthful schlep, deserves a place in a gallery of important modern art. Artist Rory Kurtz has proven to be an insightful and patient observer of human nature. I would love to see his work take a break from the editorial and pop culture work he has done for a more personal side, but either way, Kurtz has made his introduction to the poster collecting world with his releases through Mondo a highlight of 2016.
‘C3-PO’ by Mike Mitchell
Illustrator Mike Mitchell‘s adherence to the self-imposed restrictions of his portrait series has seen the artist push himself through color, texture, and the simplicity of recognition. Mitchell at times comes across as a scientist, an objective commentator on that which fascinates him and with C3-PO he shows the markings of his work.
Mitchell is predominately a digital painter, and in Lucas’ droid he lets the pixeled nibs show. The treatment of the metallic dome is imperfectly perfect. The purple background bares the brush marks of differing sizes without shame — there is no attempt at the clean blends and gradients that digital work is known for. Mitchell has mastered his tools and methods yet still finds areas of experimentation.
‘Amor Fati’ by Kevin Tong
Illustrator Kevin Tong deals in displaying massive concepts in concise illustrations with insight and depth. His ‘Amor Fati‘ brings Nietzsche’s take on ‘a love of one’s fate‘ is a sublime reflection on the passing of time, life, and death. This is Tong at his best.
‘The Snare’ by Aaron Horkey
Artist Aaron Horkey works in a language of isolation and a muted natural strife. In ‘The Snare,’ Horkey created a war-like memorial, the unearthed remnant from a long-dead epoch. The skill on display is stunning, as is each of Horkey’s pieces, and with ‘The Snare’ being offered as a timed edition giclee print through The Vacvvm, any willing fan was able to have a piece of fictitious history in their collection.
‘Astraea’ by Richey Beckett
UK based artist Richey Beckett has not strayed from his core method of pen and ink or his main subject matter of women and nature, but with each illustration and each poster he’s finding new ways to instill them with a unique voice of their own. ‘Astraea’ was originally an ink and watercolor piece for a gallery event that Beckett turned into a series prints, maintaining the astral washes and empty spaces of the original. This is Beckett placing his timeless figures in the new setting of space — the feminine with the harsh reality of space travel. A cosmic guide reminding us that the universe is as natural above as it is below.
‘The Road’ by Randy Ortiz
‘The Road‘ Canadian artist Randy Ortiz is a 24″ x 36″ screenprint that Ortiz drew at actual size in charcoal. That feat alone does not make this poster stunning — Ortiz’s treatment of the post-apocalyptic world created by author Cormac McCarthy is a horrorshow of despair, loss, and an impending and inescapable darkness. The book and film this poster is based does not give the viewer an immediate urge to be in that world again, making it an interesting subject for a poster, a task that Ortiz took on and created a thing of beauty.
‘The Bear’ by Laurent Durieux
A year does not pass without a new masterpiece from Belgian illustrator Laurent Durieux. 2016 saw Durieux release ‘The Bear,’ a poster based on Jean-Jacques Annaud‘s film of the same name. The film is a documentary-style look at the relationship between hunter and prey, with the film’s namesake being hunted without knowing it. Known for his cinematic scope, Durieux makes a taut illustration — a microscopic look at man and his role in nature. The film is a quiet meditation on the struggle of those creatures in the wild and how we, mankind, are just as at their mercy as they are at ours.