For poster-ity

Updated: Mar 16, 2019, 09:19 IST | Snigdha Hasan

A Mumbai designer is archiving edgy posters created for Indian independent music, which otherwise never make it beyond a band's social media pages

For poster-ity
(Left to right) Vibhav Singh for Tejas Menon and Aditi Mali for Sofar Sounds, Bengaluru

Any form of the arts that functions in the absence of solid infrastructural or financial backing develops its own support system of like-minded people, who make up for the lack of funds with will. That's how theatre survives, and the field of independent music is no different. So, while it is the musicians who take the centrestage at a performance, a network of non-music talent, including filmmakers, photographers, artists and designers, are responsible for creating the right kind of noise before a gig, so it isn't just attended by fans but also piques the interest of new listeners.

Posters play a key role in this. But Mumbai-based designer Mohini Mukherjee realised that once a gig is over, the visuals created for it seldom take off from the bands' social media pages. The edgy artwork on gig posters, however, isn't just a date-time-venue announcement, but an encapsulation of the band's ethos. And to ensure that these works of art don't fade into insignificance, Mukherjee launched the Indian Gig Poster Archive last week, which is an online repository of around 300 posters created for independent music, sourced through social media from all over India.

DesignImproper Design (Mehr Chatterjee, Aditya Dutta) for Madstarbase’s tour; the posters can be viewed via location and designer -centric filters

"The posters are beautiful but indie musicians don't have the money to print them or sell them online. But before focussing on the sales, I felt there should be a place for people to look at them first," she shares, adding that the website features posters designed between 2012 and 18, but she plans to source posters from the 1970s and 80s as well.

"Within Indian indie music, there are many different scenes that exist in their own little bubbles. The metal scene in Mumbai, for instance, has the same set of listeners who have been dedicatedly attending every gig in the city for years. And so, a bunch of designers get pulled into the community because they are such fans of the music and musicians. In fact, bands or genres have their favourite artists. Like, there is this designer in Mumbai who does all posters for the hip-hop cyphers in the city," explains Mukherjee.

Mohini Mukherjee
Mohini Mukherjee

Having herself designed gig posters, she tells us that the creative equation here is unlike the traditional client and designer relationship. "There is no set brief. The designers can be quite fluid — no musician, after all, will say, 'My logo needs to be 20 per cent bigger'. It's also a symbiotic relationship, with musicians and designers supporting each other."

But with little or no compensation for designers involved, doesn't it reinforce the very problem of fund crunch that musicians battle? "I don't agree with designers doing free work for brands that can easily afford to pay them. But I don't hold it against musicians because they do go out of their way to pay you back in some way," she says. "Besides, there is more money coming in the indie music scene now. Bollywood has got into it, and sponsors are following suit. Things are only going to get better."


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