One of the most eagerly anticipated events of the Dutch festival Le Guess Who? is Le Gig Poster?’s fifth edition. Joris Diks, the Dutch artist and the creator of the Le Gig Poster?, gives us some details of this year’s exhibition and the past events.
Interview by Busen Dostgül
“WE’RE GROWING EVERY YEAR A LITTLE BIT, MORE AND MORE POSTER ARTISTS WANT TO JOIN. I THINK THE SCALE IS GOOD NOW, IT FITS THE VENUE AND THE FESTIVAL. IT’S MORE OR LESS A ONE-MAN OPERATION, SO IT’S ALSO THE MAXIMUM OF THINGS I CAN ARRANGE.”
Utrecht is your hometown. What does Le Guess Who? mean to you as a music lover in Utrecht? When was the first time you went to the festival? Can you briefly highlight your favorite moments of your LGW? experiences?
I’m so happy the Le Guess Who? festival is in Utrecht and is managing to surprise me every time. Every year there are a lot of bands I didn’t know about before. It’s a true musical adventure, with a lot of awesome surprises. I’m pretty sure I was somehow (as a visitor or contributor) at every edition of the festival.
There’s no doubt that Le Gig Poster is one of the most exciting notions of the festival. How did you guys join forces with Le Guess Who?
Well, thank you! I was participating for some years at different poster shows, like Flatstock Hamburg, before reaching out to Le Guess Who?.
I loved these poster shows so much, I wanted to bring these to Utrecht, to my town. It was kind of logical for me to reach out to LGW?, because the diversity of all the different posters fits so well to the diversity of the festival. Working together with the festival feels good and I really appreciate that we are now an official part of the festival for some time.
Every year, many artists design gorgeous posters for the artists in the line up of Le Guess Who?. What are the things you look for when doing the selection for these special posters?
I think the number one thing is, that you have to have a click with the band and music. How things work after that is different for every poster artist. Personally, I try to work with bands who I admire in their musical approach, and it helps if we connect also on a “human” level.
The roster of Le Gig Poster? artists are getting bigger each year. Can you give us some clues about this year’s exhibition?
Yup, we’re growing every year a little bit, more and more poster artists want to join. I think the scale is good now, it fits the venue and the festival. It’s more or less a one-man operation, so it’s also the maximum of things I can arrange. This year we’ll be joining forces with Poster-O-Rama (a travelling poster show, with the best of the European and UK poster artists). Looking forward to this.
I know there are going to be some awesome posters made specially for the festival. There are posters in the works for Dylan Carlson & the Bug, Shabazz Palaces, Protomartyr and probably some more.
As far as I know, you make your own alternate poster for the festival each year. How would you describe the differences in your creative process when you work for LGW? and posters of your own?
Yes, that’s true, I try to make an alternative poster for the festival each year. This year I’ll try to do something special, because we’ll have our 5th anniversary with the poster show. I’ll try to find visuals that catch the vibe of the festival. The diversity, the adventure and the good atmosphere. And of course I’m listening to the playlist a lot, to hear as much of the music as I can.
You’re one of the most active figures in the European gig poster scene in the recent years. It seems like there’s a growing attention to this culture around the music world. What are your foresight about the near future of gig poster scene?
Well, I’m doing my best to bring these awesome artworks to Utrecht and show them in a nice environment. Hoping the attention grows a bit. Many of my poster friends from around Europe are setting up shows next to the Flatstock events we have. There’s Colored Gigs out of Dresden, The UK guys are putting on great stuff with the UKPA and recently we joined forces to put together Poster-O-Rama, a travelling poster show. We had a really good kick off in Rostock, during the Illustration Biennale.
So I think there’s still room to grow, the scene is active and we’re serious about it. We put a lot of work and energy in it, so it’s important for us to keep the scene healthy. We need to be aware that the artwork is official and original and the bands/festivals we work with take us serious. I’m positive it is here to stay. How Wytse Sterk (postermaker) put it: Rock & Roll Poster Printmaking Tradition, A Passion, No Fashion!
What are the interesting feedbacks you heard from the Le Guess Who? artists throughout the years about their own festival posters?
In general, we get back pretty much all positive feedback, people are amazed by the quality and diversity of the art. There are still a lot of people who don’t know about gig posters and the Le Gig Poster? show is their first contact with it. Most people are happy they can enjoy it at the festival (and take it home).
It’s always pretty crowded and busy around the poster exhibition. Which artists will you try to see this year in Le Guess Who?
Oofff, I’m not sure yet. I’ll be definitely checking Protomartyr, Sun Ra Arkestra, Shabazz Palaces & Madensuyu. I’m pretty sure I’ll be surprised again this year, like every year, by artists I didn’t know before. You guys probably have some good tips for me!