Typography design tests for original poster design for West Side Story

Making of ‘West Side Story’ Poster

Here are a few images from the making of my ‘West Side Story’ poster design. Hopefully they provide a fun glimpse behind the scenes, even if it is just a glimpse. There are so many fun stories behind the making of each poster here at Theatre Ave, this hardly feels like enough. Still, it’s a start:)

Design and typography tests for West Side Story poster art

Early in the process I do a lot of playing. One of the most fun things to play with is type. There can be so much story told just in the look and feel of the title. And as with all of my posters, I want to keep the beating heart and overall ‘feeling’ of the show intact, but take the visual look into new territory. And it’s a lot of fun to put together a lot of different options, take a breath and a step back, and then look at them fresh, and decide what suits the story best.

Theatre Avenue founding creative director Mitch Stark works with an actress to create art reference for West Side Story poster

Here’s a fun shot from our photo session with Shawnee, who posed as Maria. It’s kind of funny, but we rummaged up this old fan to try to get her hair blowing back in wonderful, dramatic ways. In the end though, none of them really worked and I ended up painting in a bun for her hair. If you scroll down you can see how this pose played a part in the final poster.

Early digital illustration tests for West Side Story original poster design

Here are some early building tests for the urban alleyway. One thing I love about digital tools is the ability to look at a lot of different graphic shape combinations. I can easily move them around and try different arrangements for the poster before I commit to the final look. Doing something like this with scissors, tracing paper, markers, etc., whereas it might be fun, would easily take 10 times longer. And when things take longer, I notice I tend to explore less. I’m not as daring.

Original art texture designed by Mitch Stark for West Side Story poster art

This image is harder to see in the finished poster, but it is a pattern I created from scratch to layer into the final image. You can see Jets, Sharks, flowers, and hints of Puerto Rican design. These original patterns are fun to make, and although they are just an added touch to the finished artwork, I think they add a depth to the storytelling which is more felt than seen.

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