909 days ago, three designers decided to start making A2 posters together. In the 130 weeks since, over 280 have been created, with the designers – now calling themselves Poster Project – increasing in number to nine. And – to make things interesting – they limited themselves to just two weeks for each poster.
These are the numbers.
But this isn’t about numbers; this is about words.
Words like ‘promenade’, ‘down’, ‘perspective’ and ‘indicatrix’*. ‘Intractable’, ‘rush’, quicksand’ and ‘perish’. These words, and dozens more, chosen at random from our studio dictionary – making things even more interesting – provide the basis of these posters; the variation forcing our ideas and concepts off in a whole manner of different directions. There’s no better antidote to complacency than incessant randomness.
Behind the posters, there are names: Kath, Lisa and Martin started it all off all that time ago; Graham then joined in, followed by Laura very soon after. Andrew came on board, and brought Nick with him. Then Amber, before Mark – our most recent addition – joined. And alongside us the whole way is copywriter Jim. Not only the keeper of the all-important dictionary, but someone who has constantly been both complimentary (never slow with praise) and complementary (collaborating on several posters) since day one.
This is a group who work hard to never miss a deadline. A self-imposed deadline that is deliberately tight, to see what can be created in the time available around ‘the day job’ and ‘real life’. Part of the fun in self-initiated projects is being your own client, and most of us in that position are very accommodating when it comes to deadlines. Not so in this case.
This is a group, too, who work even harder not to let standards slip. We encourage and criticise, observe and analyse. We’re just as great at blowing our own trumpets as we are at playing down what we do. There are many times we all need the affirmation of our colleagues – our friends – to give us the confidence that, for example, an attempt at something new has paid off. Sometimes all we need to hear is that this attempt, even if it misses, has been worth it. It almost always is.
But we can’t escape the numbers. Take the numbers that represent Poster Project’s first exhibition – an exhibition that’s been 133 days in planning and will run for eight weeks. Or that we’ll display 59 posters – held up by 200 magnetic tacks and 20 bulldog clips – 54 created by us, and five by competition winners. A competition that, like our own deadlines, was two weeks long and received 68 entries – far higher than even our most optimistic guesses.
It’s an exhibition whose opening night will involve dozens of guests, almost 200 bottles of beer, and 300 handmade guidebooks. An opening night that is tonight, the 19th of May. After all this time and all the planning; all the thought, creation, sketching, experimentation, laughing, fretting. After all of this, it’s finally here.
It’s going to be a good one. And it’s definitely beyond numbers.
That said, it’s also Beyond Words.
* Disclaimer: despite reading several dictionaries, we still don’t understand the meaning of ‘indicatrix’. Any help would be greatly appreciated.