In 2004, designer Jennifer Hill embarked on a project to create a series of modern travel posters. What set this project apart was that all of the places featured were places she’d never actually visited. Since then, the project, known as Places I Have Never Been, has taken off. (Read more about the project in the Sidelines column of HOW’s May 2013 issue.)
Each year, Hill selects a dozen cities from around the world to visually explore in patterns that capture the sights, sounds and symbolism of these places, as far-flung as Kilimanjaro, Tanzania or as obscure as Franconia, NH.
In creating each poster design, she researches what it is that sets each of these towns apart, what typifies them or captures the spirit of each spot. Then she distills those elements down into ornate patterns that make for a striking souvenir.
Here, Hill takes a look at the pattern-play in some of her favorite pieces from the series, explaining the inspiration and intention hidden within the design of each print.
Andalucia, Spain: “This was the first pattern that I did,” Hill says. “I read the book Driving Over Lemons and couldn’t stop thinking about orange blossoms. I focused on the orange blossoms with simple oranges in the background. I did this as a silkscreen and printed it using dried oranges.”
Block Island, Rhode Island: “My parents went to Block Island for their 25th wedding anniversary and had a great time,” Hill explains about why she chose to commemorate this location in the project. “My dad was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2001. I wanted to do a print about a place that was special to him and then donate part of the proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Association. This print is all about rambling beach fences, blue sky and falling feathers, since Block Island is a stop-over for young birds on the Atlantic Flyway.”
Galway, Ireland: “My great-great-grandparents are from Ireland, and my gramma gave me her travel journal from when she went to Ireland,” Hill says. “She wrote about a yellow flower called ‘gorse’ and about the amazing pipe organs she saw. I created this pattern for her. It definitely has a ‘70s vibe to it, which was probably inspired by a pair of sheets my mom had as a teen that she passed down to me. I loved those graphic sheets!”
Wellfleet, Massachusetts: “This pattern is one of my favorites and has been one of our most popular patterns,” Hill says. As she was researching the pattern, she found inspiration in a variety of places—from a photograph in a Martha Stewart Living magazine to plates printed with oysters for sale on eBay. As she started sketching the pattern, she says that, “They started to look like flowers, so I made them of varying sizes so that it looked like they were whimsically bouncing around.”
Isfahan, Iran: “I constantly hear about Iran in the news, and it is generally not in a positive way (since it is almost always political),” Hill says. “I really like researching places like this to find out what the people, culture and country is really like—without the negative veil of politics. Iran is so beautiful. It was great talking to Iranians about their country and learning about the food, customs, etc.” During her research, one of the things that caught her eye was the variety of mosaics in this Iranian town, particularly one in a local mosque that features a peacock, which inspired this pattern.
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