Monday, March 11, 2013

Behind the Music(al) :: Hairspray :: The only free t-shirt I ever passed over

Quirky thing about me: I LOVE a free t-shirt and I used to have a slight obsession with acquiring them.

Seriously. I don't know what it is about free t-shirts but I just really really like them and I almost don't care where they come from or what they say so long as they aren't offensive. My favorite free t-shirt to date was one I got in college for a face painting gig at one of my friends' jobs at a Tex-mex restaurant. It said something like, "I'd do anything for a burrito," or something equally as silly.

All of this being said, I usually love working on the stage productions at school because that usually means I get a free t-shirt for any of my troubles. To date I have a real collection of almost half a dozen shirts with my favorite being from Godspell from this production that prominently displayed very colorful "painted" Godspell lettering on a black t-shirt. After that I didn't really have a least favorite but now that Hairspray has came and gone? Well... the Hairspray t-shirt is officially my least favorite which kills me seeing as how I kind of designed it myself.


From the beginning I knew the logo I had designed would be a bit of a problem when it came to the t-shirt design. The problem: it had too many colors and would be VERY expensive to screen print. I had high hopes that we would be able to overcome this issue with digital printing over screen printing but my school has a working relationship with local printers/producers of shirts and/or marketing material so we always do our best to honor that relationship whenever possible. For that reason? We couldn't get away with digital printing because our shirt printer doesn't really do it.

The shirt printer told us not to worry because they were going to give us as much color as possible and try and simplify the design to make it a win-win for everyone. As soon as I heard this I was immediately skeptical and asked if I could tweak the design myself to ensure that the most logical tri-color palette would be left for printing. I was assured that the printers had done this before and they had done a decent job of it so I was not given the blessing to do it for them. I let it go.

Then a week or so later the t-shirt came in and to say I was crestfallen of what the final product was? Well... that would be an understatement.

I don't know what it is about the design but I just don't understand why they selected to keep the colors they did instead of what they could have kept. The hairspray can came out OK enough but then the rest of it? I don't know. It just seems like it looks strangely washed out and I don't get why they didn't exchange the white for yellow at least that IS the complement to the purple shirt and also would have worked fine enough in lieu of the yellow. And why the pale pink they selected and not a more a more hot pink instead? I guess I am just fussing over the fact that the printing lacks a real balance of contrast to it.

Now, I realize I am being ridiculous about this whole shirt printing thing because if this is the least of my woes about the show? Well, that's not so bad at all, right? Yeah. I know. That's why I brought this up at the end and also acknowledge that I'm being a bit bratty to even mention it. I didn't want to neglect talking about the shirt printing though since this is a major part of the production. Needless to say, I quietly opted out of the free t-shirt I was offered this year. Such a shame since this is the first year that I had a major stake in the design of it. Oh well.

Anyway, this pretty much wraps up the whole series of Hairspray's "Behind the Music(al)" for the set design and production this year. There is one more thing I will be mentioning but that's going to come after I spend some time thinking about what will be said since it addresses the initial inspiration  behind why a Christian school (such as mine) did a production like Hairspray to begin with. There is quite a bit to be said about this specifically having nothing to do with visual design and much more to be said about creation, creativity, and how the arts plays into both of those things. I will be getting to this eventually so don't be surprised if you see it pop up a little after I take some time away from doing all of the Hairspray stuff I have been doing.

As far as next year's musical endeavor, there has been some light discussion about doing Westside Story but who knows. One of the major issues with that right off hand is the fact that in order to do the show we will really need to have a strong turn out of males to fill the cast. As things stand? Well, that's a tall order and the ratio of guys to girls is ALWAYS tipped more to the girls in just about every production we do so... yeah. It might easily happen that we can't do Westside Story for that reason alone.

All of this being said, I hope you all have enjoyed this ongoing look I have been able to share with you about how and what goes on with my experiences with set design. For as much as I know I fuss about it, it always is something that I consider to be quite a blessing to be able to do with the work that I do. I mean, it's stressful for sure but I really and genuinely do enjoy the challenges it presents with each and every show and you want to talk about creativity and creation on one of the grandest scales possible? Well, set design certainly IS that more than anything and I am all about going BIG or not going at all usually.

Thanks for humoring me with all of this! There are about 13 or so weeks left for me of instructional weeks until the official end of this school year so I guess it will be mostly back to regularly schedule blogging from here on out.

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