Within minutes of posting a photo to Instagram of the first RVA MakerFest poster he hung to promote the Oct. 3 event, board member Corey Lane received this response: “Can we take them?” Since then, the handcrafted posters have been disappearing from locations around town almost as quickly as Lane and other volunteers can hang them up.
What’s all the fuss? The poster is a bona fide work of art, hand illustrated by local artist Jonathan Hirsch and screen-printed at Studio Two Three by a team of volunteers in a limited run of 600 handmade, hand-numbered and hand-embossed posters.
“It is an interesting problem to have,” admits Lane of the disappearing posters. “It seems counter intuitive as a way to promote the festival.” But, he adds, they are being swiped by just the people RVA MakerFest hopes to attract: “People who appreciate craftsmanship and making and recognize the uniqueness of the creation. … Our goal was to create art that people will want to take out of buildings to save and keep.” The Virginia Historical Society will be adding one of the posters to its regional poster collection, he says.
RVA MakerFest returns to the Science Museum of Virginia on Saturday Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This free, family-friendly event features interactive demonstrations in everything from science, art and technology to engineering, food and fashion. Attendees can interact with more than 100 local makers, including robotic engineers, blacksmiths, glassblowers, drone pilots, video game developers, 3D printers, screen printers, puppeteers, chocolatiers, artists and more. Local food and craft beer will be available and the Science Museum’s exhibits will be open to the public. Last year’s inaugural event drew about 3,500 people and organizers expect a larger crowd this year.
The poster was the brainchild of the Martin Agency Kitchen, its highly competitive summer internship program. This year, the seven students who were selected for the program (out of more than 400 applicants) were tasked with developing the brand identity for the second RVA Makerfest.
Amy Elkins, an associate creative director at The Martin Agency, oversaw the RVA MakerFest creative. “Because MakerFest is all about celebrating how things are made … we decided that anything we did to promote this festival needed to be handmade,” she says. “We loved the idea of creating this steampunk version of the RVA MakerFest logo [to promote this year’s event].”
Hirsch, an established local artist and a graduate student at the VCU Brand Center, drew a draft of a logo that eventually evolved into the poster art. Another Martin Agency Kitchen intern had the idea of screen-printing the posters. Studio Two Three, a local nonprofit print shop, and a MakerFest exhibitor, was a natural partner for the task. During the MakerFest on Oct. 3, attendees will be able to screen-print their own RVA MakerFest t-shirts with the help of Studio Two Three.
The Martin Agency Lab, a creative technology group, hopes to build a physical version of the “maker machine” featured on the poster so that people can interact with it during the MakerFest event.
“So many time in an internships, especially in advertising, you get put on projects that never come to fruition,” Hisrch says. “Normally, it is all just speculative creative. We knew this stuff was going to get made and that was more of a draw for me to go all in on it.”