Teju Cole

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For Foreign Policy Magazine

Despatch the war rocket Ajax

to bring back his bootyScreen shot 2014-08-29 at 10.34.52

Bits and pieces

Doodles and things that I found under the sofa cushions

The Sage Gateshead and starting all over again

I was commissioned recently to produce a poster for the Sage Gateshead, to promote the visit of St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. The Marketing chief Elliot Elam is a pal of mine, and a brilliant illustrator in his own right whose work you can see here: elliotelam.com

The brief was simple – include the distinctive Sage building and the looming St Petersburg skyline. I sent some roughs over and we decided on a front-on composition to keep it simple, with the sky merging into the Tyne, the reflected lights on the boats describing the water.


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The good thing about working with a pal, and an illustrator at that, is that when I said I wanted to start again – quite far down the line – he cut me some slack.  Although this version would be a fairly competent illustration, it just wasn’t going to work as a poster. It’s nice but boring (and all that purple was starting to get a bit Disney).


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It’s a gamble, but sometimes just starting again is the quickest way forward if you find yourself pushing things around the page hoping an illustration will ‘click’. A strategically placed boat and tree let me get away with hiding the horizon line, slimming the format down pushes your eyes up the image, and Russian stars (for a poster it’s healthy to be unafraid of cliche) work as stylised fireworks – the concert takes place on November 5th – without it going all Disney again. I put on some chunky type , placed the Sage logos on the same eyeline and hopefully it’s an image that feels immediately Russian and exciting.

(click on the image for a nice sharp version)


Sage Art 27.8


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