Join Dirk Fowler for an in-depth discussion in this video F2 Design: Letterpress Printing and Poster Design - Film, part of F2 Design: Letterpress Printing and Poster Design.
Dirk Fowler: I've, personally, always really enjoyed making things with my hands. Dirk Fowler: I think the reason I got into design in the, in the beginning was I really enjoyed drawing. I just enjoyed that process of creating. Dirk Fowler: If something is crafted, hand-crafted, you're less likely to throw it away. You can see that quality, you understand this is something that I should hang onto.
Dirk Fowler: I'm Dirk Fallor. I'm a graphic designer, graphic design professor at Texas Tech University. I'm a letter press printer and I'm a poster maker. I think, you know, our world is filled with, at least bombarded with so much imagery. Digital images, I mean, you literally can't get away from them, they're everywhere. When you go to a concert, and maybe you pick up this poster and you, you look at it and you touch the ink and, and you think, oh wow, this is, this is different.
What, what is it about this, you know something's, how did they make this, who made this Dirk Fowler: When I was in college I was in a couple of bands and after getting out and getting a job, you know, I had kind of, I was losing that, that connection with the music world. Making posters was a way for me to kind of stay connected with the music scene. Dirk Fowler: I had a lot of friends that were in bands and, you know, I would make a poster for a show, then they would go open for a larger act in another city maybe, and, and they would say, can you make a poster for this one? That band would, would see it, like, who made this red poster? And before I knew what was happening I sort of became a poster artist.
Dirk Fowler: Well I think my work's really simple. I'm a little intimidated when I have to design with more than two colors. I really like simple, two color graphics. But I'd like to think that no matter how simple it is, there's always some level of, it's not really hidden. I don't l ike to say that I hide things in my design. I don't think you should hide anything, but I do like the idea that someone maybe has to give it a second or third look and then they, they find something. I think over the years I've been able to develop that a little bit more.
The design around the design, has become more important to me over the years. And seeing those things that just happen. So this is a, a poster I'm working on for Jeff Tweedy. I've done a lot of work for Wilco over the years, and, this is a, he's getting ready to head out on a solo tour. Originally, you know, I was thinking about, obviously, ideas for the, for the poster. I didn't want it to be specifically, you know, anything related necessarily to, to Jeff Tweedy. But something that was appropriate.
So I was sketching birds. Really, I was in a meeting at the time. And I started sketching these birds, almost like a little puzzle that fit together puzzle pieces. Really like the idea of, of a lot of white, you know, dove like birds with one black bird in the center there. So during the process the client suggested for the Austin poster why not some bats because Austin's really known for these bats. I think it's really important that you listen to your client and when they have a good idea you should, you should embrace that.
Then for the show in Dallas I thought it would be cool to use the same. It's the very next night, so it would be cool to use the same color scheme. The idea of a poster in general is supposed to be an advertisement, right? An advertisement for the show. Fortunately for Jeff Tweety he doesn't really need posters hanging around town to, to sell tickets to the show. So in this case it really becomes a little more of a commemorative item for people that attend the show. What I'm usually looking for is just some connection, you know, not a, not a photograph of the band.
But something that it fits the vibe of the band something that just feels appropriate. Dirk Fowler: I think I've always been interested in graphic design but without really knowing or understanding that I actually give a lot of credit to my, to my grandfather, who was a farmer. He was far from a graphic designer. But he was a problem solver. If he had an issue with something, something that didn't work on the farm, or a piece of broken machinery, he would go sit down at the kitchen table with a pencil and paper and he would solve the problem.
You can go out to his workshop and he would build something that he needed to, to solve the problem. So I think that looking back I really learned a lot about being a graphic designer from him. Dirk Fowler: So I start with Vector art in this case. And as I'm cutting, I'm making design decisions. So, I maybe I'll just cut the little feet off because I decide they aren't really necessary. I want all of these bats to look different anyway, from each other, I dont want them all to be identical.
Dirk Fowler: So sometimes I'll just remove something that I feel isn't necessary. Dirk Fowler: I started by trying to carve linoleum blocks which would be a more traditional method for letter press. I'm sometimes apprehensive about using the term letterpress, some, some purists might say, well, that's not letterpress at all. I'm using letterpress equipment but I've started making them out of different surfaces. If i can get ink to stick to it and I can press it onto paper, I'll print with it. I'll try anything.
My wife was actually the one who suggested, you know, what about, kind of thinking of it like a large rubber stamp. So I discovered gasket rubber. It's, it's made from making like car gaskets, and it's really odd, but I tried it and I could cut it easily, gives me a really smooth printing surface. I can make large solids and then I can discard the material and use the same surface. And start over for my next print.
You know, I think that I've been really fortunate. I think that I got into an area of design that has allowed me to somehow be noticed in a, in a world. It's a, I think it's really difficult, there are a lot of graphic designers out there. What makes me different? I don't think that I'm different. I live in Lubbock, Texas, and that maybe isn't the design hub the world, but, you know, I think that if you're just making things and you're willing to keep making things.
That's been my driving sort of force is I, I want to make something. Everyday if I can just create and, and make something and if you do that enough no matter where you live, no matter what it, what it is you're doing I just feel like if you're passionate about it and you keep doing it eventually someone's going to take notice No Cmd+Z on this. Dirk Fowler: I don't know if there was ever a point where I just decided this is it.
It was just, I'm still passionate about making music posters. The scene has really changed that I don't feel like I've made the perfect poster yet. I don't, I don't know what that is yet but I'm going to keep trying. I like the idea of I'm still learning every single day and I make mistakes. And, and that's what it's all about. That's why it's, it's still exciting, what, what I do.