Randomly re-reading interviews, I found out that most of the artists were referring to show promoters when I asked them how they were choosen for a particular event. And the idea grown in my head to contact directly those guys from behind the scene. After all I already interviewed collectors, site/blog owners and even few printers, so why not promoters as they are also part of the poster scene. The first one to answer is Abby Lavin from Shangai I get to know thanks to Idle Beats guys I must thanks here once again for the chinese point of view they gave me to the poster world ! Hope to have more show promoters soon on the blog and do not worry, I do not forget drawers ;)
Bikini Kill. I'm stuck in the '90s.
Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from what do you do?
My name's Abby. I'm originally from Washington D.C., but moved around a lot growing up. Started learning Chinese when I was a kid living in Hong Kong, which led to me deciding to move to Shanghai about 4 years ago and have an adventure. Ended up working here at Split Works (www.spli-t.com), a fiercely lovely group of people who organise concerts and music festivals, mostly in China with some work in other Asian countries too. We work with a lot of awesome musicians, both from within China and from overseas. We tour with different artists all the time throughout the year, but our main annual events are the JUE | Music + Art festival (www.juefestival.com) and the Black Rabbit Music Festival (www.hei-tu.com). Both of those events take place in Shanghai and Beijing.
When did you start your business, how did that happen ?
Split Works was founded just over 5 years ago, but not by me! The founders of the company, Archie Hamilton and Nathaniel Davis, are a couple people who really saw the potential for China's live music scene to develop in exciting ways. A couple of the early events Split Works produced in 2007 were a Sonic Youth China Tour, and a music festival called Yue in Shanghai, that featured a cool mix of international and domestic talent. Everyone from Faithless to Talib Kweli to lots of kick-ass bands from Beijing.
Today are you living from your activity, or do you do something else for a living ?
Nope; I'm still here at Split Works full time.
Which bands are you working with regularly ?
We've worked with so many different acts. It's hard to keep track. I think you can see the full list here: http://en.wikipedia.org/
But there are a few artists we have ongoing relationships with, including Olafur Arnalds, Handsome Furs, and Hanggai to name just a few. We've done multiple tours/shows over the years for each of those acts.
For each event we do, the main decisions about design are made by Split Works, but we always get final approval of the design from the musicians themselves.
How do you (do they) choose the artist you are going to work with on a particular event ?
99.9% of our posters are done by our in-house graphic designer, Kaine. But we do sometimes work with other artists too. Especially if Kaine is too busy, then we look for a freelance artist to come up with a design. But I like working with Kaine because her style is quite versatile. We promote so many different types of music (punk, hip-hop, folk, electro, etc.) so it's great to have a designer who is able to come up with poster art that fits all those different styles.
What is the most important for you when you ask for a poster ?
aesthetically speaking, i like clean lines and bright colours. but really, i'm a stickler for detail, so i'd have to say the most important thing to me is having all the key info about the event (address, ticket booking hotline, etc.) presented in both Chinese and English in a way that's easy for people to read. after all, the purpose of the poster is ultimately to drive turn-out to the show.
What kind of advice would you give to a young artist who would like to work with you ?
Are you a collector yourself ?
I'm not a massive collector, but I would like to be. My friends at Idle Beats studio have given me a few of their prints over the years, which I love. I have a framed print of that Handsome Furs Asia Tour poster in my apartment. Probably my fave poster find of all time was at a night market at Alexandria, in Egypt. there was this dude selling primary school supplies -- notebooks, pencils, etc...and I saw he had a really dusty, tattered A1 poster meant for a biology class, with a diagram of the human heart and all the text "ventricle," "aorta," etc...written in Arabic. so I bought it (for like 5 cents US) and brought it back to Shanghai and framed it. it's such a gem.
oh man...that's a tough one. i guess i'm not a big enough collector to really have a list like that!
A bit of self-promotion, take advantage of it, it's free, where can we find you on the web, what are you working on at the moment?
our JUE | Music + Art festival is taking place in Beijing and Shanghai March 9-25. I'm really excited about that one. It's our 4th year of the festival and it's developed organically and splendidly. people can find info about that event at: www.juefestival.com.
You have a particular viewpoint on the poster scene, how do you see it evolve ?
I'm amused/inspired by a lot of the gig posters i see around Shanghai. I hope that in China people will increasingly start looking at posters as works-of-art and keepsakes to frame. It would be great to see more screenprinting studios cropping up around the country. Idle Beats is the only one I know of, and they rule.
What can we wish you for the future?
Thanks for answering my questions and see you soon on the website !!
You're most welcome. thanks for the opportunity!