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124 NEW MASTERS OF POSTER DESIGN
Methane often polishes off their work with a little humor as
well; note their marketing lines “Farm Fresh Methane” and
“Put a Little More Methane in Your Life.
That humor masks a lot of hard work, though. McDevitt cautions,
“Silkscreen posters have to be thought out. Prepress work is
very important. We have to consider color, size, and audience
as well as the technical aspect.Their work ethic shapes the
entire process. Methane’s “design philosophy is to sketch and
concept our asses off on the front end. Research the material
and explore a number of ideas before settling on one. We have
stacks and stacks of sketches from the last 15 years.They also
try to get started early, “visiting the assignment before it
comes down to being due the next day,” so that time
constraints don’t force them to settle on a solution they are
unhappy with.
HAND IN HAND
Lee has noticed the change in the poster scene in recent years.
With the computers help, production speed and access to
knowledge has increased, but he believes plenty of posters
have always been out there. “I just think designers are starting
to look at them as a bit more exciting than the annual reports of
days past. Poster designers can take more chances and push
the envelope.” Methane also notes that the connection
between fans and a collectable visual connection to music is
even more desired now that the record has disappeared and
the CD seems to be following in its footsteps, leaving fans little
in the way of a visual badge. McDevitt notes, Art and music go
hand in hand,” and fans crave the interpretation of the music
available through gig posters.
Lee and McDevitt admit a love of designs from “all the old
albums from the fifties and sixties, and Saul Bass, David Stone
Martin, Jim Flora.” But you can also see the heavy influence of
pop culture from their childhoods. “We love Wacky Packs, those
novelty stickers from the seventies that parody food and product
labels, Mad magazines amazing illustrations, Christmas-themed
stop-motion animation, board games, The Six Million Dollar Man,
Planet of the Apes, Bugs Bunny, Hanna-Barbera, H.R. PufnStuf,
eighties soap operas, B-movies like The Warriors, The Omega
Man, Porky’s, Losin It—the list goes on and on.That doesn’t
touch on the passion for “music of all kinds—Merle Haggard
to Pavement to Louvin Brothers to Serge Gainsbourg to Led
Zeppelin.You can hear the yearning to get back to their stereos
in the way they list each artist.
Through their funky eye-catching design, Methane are now
inspiring a new generation of designers who did not experience
the 1970s firsthand, much in the way the famous painter whose
work adorns so many classic jazz albums, David Stone Martin,
flavors their work.
TEN YEARS FROM NOW
From day one in Methane history, McDevitt says “We have
always done posters for personal enjoyment first, and always
hoped we would eventually be able to at least pay for the print-
ing.Those days are long behind them. All they know is that
business gets better each year and all the hard work seems
to be paying off—aside from “blowing our spending money
on music.” Making their mark nationally and adding to the local
flavor in Atlanta, they aren’t sure about a poster movement
currently taking place, as “it’s hard to see a movement until
it passes.” But, McDevitt adds, “I sure hope we can say we were
part of it when looking back ten years from now.
“Poster designers can take more chances and push the envelope.”
METHANE STUDIOS
ATLANTA, GEORGIA, USA
MARK’S GARAGE
Robert Lee and Mark McDevitt, former Columbus College of Art and Design students
reunited by a love of poster design, formed Methane Studios in 1998. While the studio
has grown into a full-service firm, they started out solely producing posters for Robert’s
band in Mark’s garage, and posters remain the bulk of what they do. That wont change
anytime soon, as McDevitt notes they enjoy the boldness and the large format and
great big areas of color available with poster design.
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