Come August any wall, bus stop, railing or window in Edinburgh is likely to have poster on it. Fall asleep on a park bench and it’s likely you will have one pasted on to your very own face. There’s more posters in Edinburgh during the Fringe than in an undergraduate student’s bedroom, so it only feels right that the often overlooked art-form of the Edinburgh poster has it’s own awards.
The Edinburgh Poster Awards takes place on Sunday 14th August at The Gilded Balloon, hosted by Edinburgh Comedy Award Winner Sam Simmons. Two Prizes of £1500 are on offer for the winners of the Public Vote and the Panel Prize. We chatted to Gina Lyons who founded the awards in 2014…
Hi Gina, Why did you set up the awards?
I am in love with Edinburgh in August with the creativity of all the posters around me. It baffled me they didn’t have a big poster award. It’s all a tongue in cheek award – it’s more about rewarding the creativity and sell of the poster than the graphics or editing. That said, we’ve seen people’s posters get better year in. There are some hugely creative comedians out there who know their audience and know the work they want to portray.
There’s a pretty big cash prize on offer. What are the judges looking for in a winning poster?
Pull. What poster makes you want to see the show. That’s what they are there for, to pull punters in. I also think it’s a good indication to what audience you want to attract, what TV channel you aspire to be on (if any) etc. This year, the judges really want to find the poster that says the comedian knows who they are and what they want. Suite TV work with huge comedy names, Ricky Gervais, Billy Connolly, Greg Davies – comedians who bring their scripted shows to cut and script and many of them are in the process from idea to edit. Suite want to support the next big comedy name early.
Above: Last year’s Panel Prize Winner Tom Parry and the public vote winner Michael Stranney & Olaf Falafel.
Do posters really make that much of a difference to getting people into a show?
Of course. Years and years ago, I laughed at a poster by a group called Late Night Gimp Fight. I ended up watching their 45 min show at midnight on my own and fell in love with these 5 weirdos. I ended up producing the Impractical Jokers pilot for Comedy Central and there was only one group of guys for the job. That all came from walking past a poster and laughing.
What’s the biggest mistake someone can make on a poster?
SCRATCHING YOUR HEAD. What’s that about? I’m not here to say what’s not good, I am no expert. But use the colours, quotes, image that describe your show. A bright coloured, upbeat poster for a downbeat comedian doesn’t work.
What’s your personal favourite of all time (ours is Tim Vine’s “Tim Vine is not appearing at this year’s Edinburgh festival” poster)?
I have a soft spot for our first winner – Holly Walsh with ‘Never Had It.’ Subtle genius and a gorgeous poster. I have loved Carl Donnelly’s posters too and of course Luke McQueen’s one stealing the concept in his usual cheeky self.
What’s next for the humble poster? Hologram / Virtual reality posters? Moving posters (like the portraits in Harry Potter)? Scratch and sniff? Let’s wait and see.