ROCKPAPERINK is an awesome design blog that we would love even if they didn't love our John Foster as much as they do. But they do! Here is an interview where Emily Potts asks Mr. Foster some really good questions.
EP: Seriously, you're the most upbeat person I correspond with on a regular basis and it's usually first thing in the morning. Do you sprinkle crack on your cheerios?
JF: That's funny. I don't know that I see myself that way, but it is nice to be thought of as such. I am not much of a morning person but I also really love what I do, and I honestly wake up each morning dying to get back to it. Sleep gets in the way. By the time I talk to you, I have gotten my dogs out and fed and my daughter dressed/fed/lunch made and packed/dropped off at school, and pulled up at the office trying to present myself to the world as a grown up, so I am bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Mostly bushy tailed.
EP: John, when did you fall in love with poster design? What is the first poster you remember seeing and thinking, "I want to do that."
JF: I have a really cool Mom who bought me punk rock Clash t-shirts in the late '70s as a third grader so I was exposed to a lot of cutting edge design. I recall always having a high awareness for graphics/visuals, and there was no bigger format than the posters for my favorite bands and movies. Having said that, I had a drawing scholarship and acceptance into a stellar business program to choose from after high school, and I ended up doing neither and entered a design program in college trying to blend the two. That's when I really knew I wanted to do design. One of the recent grads who came back to teach a class was Dave Plunkert, and he and Paul Sahre were doing these groundbreaking theater posters—I was in awe. I couldn't imagine doing something that amazing. I still can't.
EP: What are your favorite printing techniques for your poster designs?
JF: Absolutely nothing beats going over a silkscreened print for me. Seeing the ink seep and dip, where the transparencies occur, the mix of colors, the inconsistencies and imperfections: So lo-fi, yet high art. It's personal. Like staring at a beautiful face for hours as you contemplate which eye is a little bigger than the other, and the little crease at the corner of the mouth seems to curve toward you, and soon you appreciate it on a much higher level.
EP: Do you start with a drawing then go to the computer? Explain your process a bit.
JF: Forever doodling, I remain a strong believer in sketching. I sketch all the time and usually start there. It can vary. I may pull out a paintbrush or a pencil and start working on images and type, or pull some old images and start manually manipulating them. It is still pretty organic and everything changes once I have the elements in my hands. I scan everything into the computer and then use this tiny silver machine in the same manner I do a brush or pen and push the pieces further. I love my laptop, but it is such a small portion of the design process for me. I "build" designs in my head really, and then the fun is seeing if I can get my hands and the computer to bring the final thing even remotely close to what I wanted.
EP: Tell me a little about the Poster of the Week column you’re going to do for rockpaperink.com, starting Nov. 2 and running every Wednesday.
JF: I’m so excited about this. It is hard to believe that my books can’t contain my enthusiasm for the poster medium, but they really can’t. Each week will feature a breathtaking poster hand-selected, with a little background info. I am really looking forward to being a weekly presence on the site, and I hope this becomes a bit of an honor and a flagpole for the international poster community.
EP: Who are your design heroes?
JF: Vaughan Oliver and the work of v23 were a HUGE inspiration to me. I know I am not alone in this, but never before or since has someone so brilliantly elevated the connection between music and design into it's own identifiable art form. Reid Miles was incredible and genre defining, and Oliver blows him out of the water. I spent years of my life studying those record sleeves.
Neville Brody and David Carson equally made me re-evaluate design at an important time in my life. I also think I would put artists that thought like designers, such as Basquiat, Haring, and certainly Warhol and Lichtenstein in there. Dave Plunkert was only a few years older than me in school and has been doing my favorite design and illustration work for decades. I know him, so it is funny to elevate him as such, but he certainly deserves to be in that company. He also showed me that you could come from our little program and actually DO it. The very definition of inspiring.
I am also still blown away by the work of current designers every day - simply too many to mention. That's why we have to do the poster of the week.
Want to know even more about John and his work?
You can visit his website @ www.badpeoplegoodthings.com
Or just give us a call. We love to dish and can talk on the phone for hours.