Status Serigraph is the graphic design and poster work of Justin Helton. Since 2005, Helton has become one of the most sought after young designers in the Southeast. A one-man studio specializing in gig posters and design for the music industry, he has created materials for some of today’s biggest musical acts and festivals.
Working with bands like Phish, The Avett Brothers, My Morning Jacket, Ween, The Black Keys, and festivals like Bonnaroo, and the Forecastle Festival, Helton has created an array of designs ranging from posters to websites. Working out of Knoxville, TN, he uses a unique blend of design, illustration, and typography in his work and his posters are silk screened by hand.
An alumni of the University of Tennessee and former Creative Director at AC Entertainment, Helton’s designs have been featured in publications such as Paste Magazine, Relix Magazine, Gigposters Vol. 2, and blogged about on such websites as Coudal Partners, Underconsideration, and OMGposters.
Here are the Questions we asked Justin:
Q: One a scale of 1-10, how pretentious is it to have a framed gig posters in one’s office? *Full Disclosure – I currently have three.
A: 0, I think it’s not pretentious at all to hang gigposters in your office…I see it as a love of music and design and hanging things that inspire someone is always a great thing in my book. I have seen many design studios online that hang gigposters as decoration…I think it’s great!
Q: Have you ever turned down a poster design job based on the fact that you didn’t like a band’s music?
A: I have never turned down a job due the lack of interest in a band or their music…I feel as if jobs like that pose a new challenge to me as a design. Making myself listen to new music and finding a piece of that music that I can interpret in a graphic way is something I think keeps me fresh. If I just stuck to bands that I loved my job would be easier, but I doubt I would grow very much.
Q: How many times to you spell check a design before screen printing it?
A: I’ll be honest, I am terrible at spell checking….I always make an effort to check it, but I rely on the client to double check that text before it’s approved. Since most of the time I am provided the text in advance I also expect that they have looked it over before submitting it to me.
Q: Since screen printing is a semi-permanent process, how do you deal with a client wanting to change or add something after the fact? For instance, with a digital project tweaking a color or something after the client has “approved” it isn’t a huge ordeal. However, if a client decided an ink wasn’t the color that they thought it would be after the print is finished, how do you handle/prevent that?
A: I try my best to mock up a final comp on the computer that is approved by my client…what they approve is what they get. I do state up front that due to the nature of the printing process the inks may slightly vary…but it’s also my job to get the final product to them as close as possible. Any text changes, etc should be finalized before I go to print….but again this is stated upfront.
Q: Do you have a connection to blues and greys? It seems like a lot of your posters play in that color range.
A: I have a connection with washed out earth tones. Much of my work draws from vintage art and design and my color palette tends to reflect that. I will say that Blue has always been my favorite color and that is probably the reason that it shows up so much in my work.
Q: Have you ever done an etching before? A lot of your posters have that look and feel, and I was curious if you’ve ever attempted the process.
A: In college I majored in Fine Arts with a concentration in Printmaking…during my time in school I dabbled in intaglio. Etching is a form of Intaglio. Its a long winded process…rubbing the inks into the plates is something that I appreciated, but I also like quick results….from which may love of screenprinting stemmed.
Q: You hit a lot of the festivals to sell prints – how do you avoid eating a solid diet of corn dogs and other fair-esqe foods during the summer?
A: Summer is definitely hard since i do a lot of shows…I try and make sure to eat as best i can…but I definitely have my run-in’s with pizza and beer…. I really have a distaste for hotdogs though, so avoiding corndogs is pretty easy, haha!
Q: Vintage birds – what’s the story? Have you always had an eye for old bird illustrations? They seem to pop-up a lot in your work.
A: I have always envied the life of a bird….free to soar wherever they want….getting a different perspective from above, etc. I have actually made it a point to try and avoid birds lately…trying to make myself work in different and new directions.
Q: Why is Old Crow Medicine Show one of your favorite clients?
A: Old Crow Medicine Show is one of my favorite clients because they are just so amazingly cool to work with. Their management is one of the nicest in the music biz and they just seem to really respond to my work. They also give me lots of work, and it probably helps that they are one of my favorite bands touring today…all in all a great relationship!
Q: In your opinion, what is the best summer music festival? You know, the one that has the best mix of musical talent, not overly crowded, great location, and wonderful local people? *Extra points will be awarded for answering Forecastle – Louisville, KY
A: My favorite festival of the year is actually probably a toss up between Forecastle and Bonnaroo…both festivals have such a great line-up of bands and are great for their own reasons. At Bonnaroo I love how big it is…the sheer amount of bands and music you can see and the vibe that is set amongst the people at the fest…always positive. Forecastle is nice because of it’s great setting in downtown Louisville on the waterfront…It’s great to explore the city before and after the fest each day. For both festivals, the fact that we do a poster show is also really big for me…I love coming down to sell prints, catching great music, and meeting new folks.
Join us on July 11, 2013 and listen to Justin speak about his work.