Built to Shill 

Martin Agency creative talent is on display at the National. And sorry, Wal-Mart, but it didn't even cost a fortune.

click to enlarge art42_art_posters_200.jpg

It has to get old staring at cave men and lizards all the time.

The Martin Agency may be ridonkulously hot in the advertising world, but sometimes their creative types need other artistic outlets. Lately, some of their designers interested in music have been branching out with the help of the National.

Senior art director Adam Stockton, 31, started out by creating the logo for the National, using what he describes as “ancient clip art” from a French decorative escutcheon dating to the turn of the century. After that project, he asked the club if it might be interested in posters for future shows. It said yes, not surprisingly, and Stockton began to check around the agency to sign up other designers who might want to contribute for whatever shows inspired them.

Dave Peterson, manager at the National, says the posters are used solely for promotion and not sold, partially because of copyright issues with the bands; and because there's no specific contract between agency and venue. The designers get free tickets to the show.

“It's kind of an Old-World exchange of services. No transaction of money,” Stockton says. “They get design work, we get to see some shows, and get to flex some creativity in our spare time. … It's tough to get that kind of artistic escape when you're doing commercials and stuff.”

So far, the Martin Agency designers have created about a dozen posters with more scheduled for the fall season. A former musician, Stockton says he's designed silkscreen posters for bands around the area, which typically cost $3 to $5 to print, possibly explaining why the National doesn't produce many copies of the 18-by-24-inch posters. At the legendary Fillmore and Warfield clubs in San Francisco, they get around the copyright issue by giving show posters away free to concertgoers as they leave the venue — but don't hold your breath.

“The greatest thing is that we can use a variety of artistic styles for these projects,” Stockton says. A recent poster for indie rockers Built to Spill copied an in-flight floatation device manual from US Air, with the band information scratched overtop in ballpoint pen. The information on each poster is simple: band name, date and time, and the words, “The National.”

There's a major interior architectural renovation going on in the creative offices at the Martin Agency. Stockton says that some of the concert posters could be featured on the office walls some day. There are also plenty of national competitions in the advertising world, and rock posters technically fit the point-of-purchase category, so Stockton says they'll likely submit some for consideration.

“It's great. You're not selling widgets, you're just making artwork inspired by the band,” he says. “But the biggest thing I think is helping to promote such an awesome new venue in Richmond.” S





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