Each year, Garden Walk Buffalo has a poster artwork competition, announced in the late fall, with entries due mid-February. I am not now (nor have ever been!) on the committee that chooses the artwork. That was a function of, in the past when I was leading the organization, being able to plead ignorance (plausible deniability), into the choosing of the art, since I know many of the artists that submitted work. “It was the committee that decided – not me!”
I am an art director/graphic designer professionally. Solving marketing problems with communication design is what I do (hire me!).
My original entrée into Garden Walk Buffalo, in year three, was designing the maps and posters without artwork – save an illustration of a lily we used for a few years, just changing background colors. When we switched to full-color posters, artists were offering their artwork for us to use. A competition, with a panel, felt more equitable.
Garden Walk Buffalo’s 25th anniversary is this year.
I thought it deserved a special poster. My favorite past posters have been the ones that had some reference to Buffalo in the image – something to located it here, whether it be a skyline, indication of a map, or architectural reference.
You can view Garden Walk Buffalo’s past posters here. Many are watercolors of beautiful flowers. That’s not bad at all, but it seem as as though any garden tour could put their name on them and it would be a beautiful poster – Garden Walk Cleveland, The West Asheville Garden Stroll, Memphis’ The Cooper-Young Garden Walk, you get the idea. The artwork requirements do suggest that if plants are depicted on our posters, that they be something grown in our area and extra bonus points if its something in bloom during Garden Walk Buffalo.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve loved all the posters the group has produced over the years – by many talented artists. I’d have made pretty much the same choices the committee made. Some of the ones I find most special are illustrations or photos by artists that are no longer with us.
It’s just the grounding of the image to Buffalo is what I miss.
So with that in mind, I submitted this poster – actually four posters – when viewed together they create one large poster. Much like our unique gardens, once patched together, make up North America’s largest garden tour.
What you see here are just “roughs”, layouts intended to be tightened up later with more input, and includes a couple stock photos.
My thought was that, as a series, people might want all four posters.
And therefore, instead of selling one poster for $5, we’d sell four posters to many visitors for $20 – potentially quadrupling sales! (Garden Walk is a non-profit, so thinking in terms of revenue helps!).
Also, a limited run of the four posters one one large sheet could sell for a premium. I’m always workin’ the angles.
So below are my four posters that make one poster.
Each has a significant Garden Walk Buffalo icon – two have art (the FlynnStein Garden’s bowling ball totem pole and past President Arlan Peter’s water fountain). Two have built structures (the Favorito’s geodesic pergola, and, of course, my shed.)
They seemed a nice mix – Arlan’s water fountain has been on the Walk for nearly 25 years. The geodesic pergola is only a year old. Two are traditional (fountain and shed), two are not so traditional (bowling ball totem and geodesic pergola).
All the plants depicted one can find on the tour itself – and in bloom the last weekend of July and are found in many of our gardens (bee balm, passion flower, zinnia, clematis, Persian shield, morning glories, daisies, ivy, etc.). The “furthest” background is an actual Garden Walk Buffalo map (I would have set up to feature the Norwood Avenue neighborhood – the start and heart of the tour in 1995 and the new Parkside neighborhood), topped by garden lattice.
What ends up as a center “medallion”–when the posters are all put together–includes the full image of a daisy with 25 petals (that took some retouching) as a nod to the anniversary, a list of the larger neighborhoods that make up the Walk, including the new neighborhood added this year – Parkside. It also says “25 Years.”
Around the edges, subtle, but there, one on each poster, were the words Community, Nature, People and Art. That’s the mix it takes to create a garden tour!
I made the text, the garden tour particulars, emanate from the medallion like the sun’s rays.
So anyway, my poster was not selected.
The artwork that did win is shown here. It’s an absolutely gorgeous watercolor of an iris (apparently 25th anniversary flower, I did not know that!) by artist Jody Ziehm, who also did Garden Walk’s poster artwork a few years ago. I am told by the Merchandise Committee that products with Jody’s images sell very well (and many to Jody and her friends!)
I must add that, there is no compensation for poster artwork winners. Garden Walk Buffalo has a limited-time use of the artwork for posters and merchandise (it sells everything from t-shirts to garden signs to tote bags and tea towels).
I probably should have pitched what the merchandise would look like – with the medallion as a central image maybe for t-shirts, tea towels, magnets and more. Those central images would make great t-shirts too. Who wouldn’t want to wear Arlan’s fancy fountain – or a bowling ball totem – on a shirt?
Now maybe ‘ll just hold onto it for Garden Walk’s 30th anniversary.
I’ll just have to add five more petals to the daisy!