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In the News: Augustana Senior Designs JazzFest T-shirt

The following story appeared in the Sunday, July 22, issue of the Argus Leader:

A Look at JazzFest Art Throughout The Years

By Jay Kirschenmann
Argus Leader

Like the musical acts playing on its stages, JazzFest’s artwork changes each year, too.

Colorful images on posters, T-shirts, logo, advertising materials and other merchandise help promote the free annual concerts, which this year will run Thursday through Saturday at Yankton Trail Park.

Only people who volunteer to work at the festival get the new T-shirt with a design based on headlining musician Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good” song. It features a hand-drawn guitar and other elements reflecting the song lyrics and JazzFest.

About 40 artists answered the contest call from Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues to design this year’s JazzFest T-shirt for volunteers. A requirement was to include the line from “Life’s Been Good” that says, “I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.”

Augustana & JazzFest

  • Hegg Brothers Band: Noon, Saturday, July 28, Main Stage
  • JazzFest Jazz Camp with Chris Vadala and Sioux Falls Big Band: 1:30 p.m., Saturday, July 28, Main Stage
  • Chris Borchardt: 2:35 p.m., Second Stage

View the complete JazzFest 2012 schedule.

Fans can’t buy that shirt. But Jazz & Blues officials liked Augustana College senior art student Sarah Goette’s design so much they asked her to create a second design for T-shirts to be sold during the festival. It’s the first time that a volunteer shirt designer has been asked to also design the shirt that will be sold to the public.

Mark Pollard designed several past JazzFest T-shirts along with the JazzFest posters from 1999 to 2008 while he was art director for Media One marketing/advertising company. He’s now art director at his own company, Visual Solutions.

“What’s so fun about going to the current festivals is seeing people that are so proud of wearing shirts from years gone by,” Pollard said. “I think there’s kind of a hidden contest between people to wear the oldest JazzFest T-shirt, to show who’s been there the longest.”

Posters are different from T-shirt designs, he said, since the posters must convey the festival date and who’s playing each year, yet still be attractive to catch fans’ eyes.

“With a poster, you want to make people aware of who’s playing and make it look like it’s going to be a good time,” Pollard said. “I think it should always reflect kind of a summer feeling, too. Bands supply pictures, so we always had a pecking order of how big they are, with headliners bigger, and others smaller from there.”

This year’s poster, created in a black-and-white theme featuring an image of headliner Joe Walsh, was designed by Cami Lovely at HenkinSchultz Communication Arts.

This year's shirts

Goette says it will be fun to see people wearing her shirt designs at the festival this year. She’s a painter and printmaker but likes the challenge of freehand drawing for projects.

She also recently designed the SAM logo for the Sioux Area Metro bus system, too, another art contest she entered and won. Neither project paid cash — JazzFest is giving her festival merchandise and food coupons for the event — but Goette figures it will look good in her portfolio when she looks for either an art-related job or an art teaching position.

Everything in her JazzFest T-shirt designs is hand-drawn – no computer fonts or stock images are used.

“I started with the Joe Walsh phrase we were given, then I listened to the song over and over again and started picking up on the different things he mentions,” said Goette, 32, who graduated from Mitchell High School in 1998 and worked in the graphic arts field for 12 years before enrolling at Augustana College.

A line in the song mentions staying at hotels, so Goette decided to draw each letter of the word “JazzFest” as if it were from vintage hotel signs. And since Walsh plays guitar, the central image is the instrument, with the added twist of turning into a tree to reflect nature and the outdoor concerts.

Music videos for some 30-year-old Walsh songs are animations, so Goette decided to give her design the same ’80s-style old-school look.

“I wanted to reflect more music along with the guitar image, so the clouds became records,” she said. While her designs are hand-drawn, she later added color using her computer.

Rob Joyce, executive director of Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues, says he loves Goette’s designs. He said that for a few years in a row for JazzFest’s 21 festivals, officials tried to maintain the same look to promotional materials.

“But we discovered that people really wanted something that is fresh and different each year, especially with the merchandise that they wear,” Joyce said.

The hallway leading to the Jazz & Blues office at the Washington Pavilion is lined with posters from past years. Some are based on original paintings or photographs, while others are graphic designs by area artists.

“She did a great job,” Joyce said. “I think those shirts will be collected and will be around for a long time.”