Wanted: Posters

After two days of evaluating thousands of entries in HOW’s International Design Competition, our judges nearly came to blows. Not that they argued over which entry would take top honors. They agreed about that. No, the real tussle threatened to emerge when each judge claimed dibs on the “Lazio” poster, one of eight in the Best of Show-winning campaign. We had three judges. We had two copies of the poster. We had a problem.

Our judges aren’t the only ones wanting to get their hands on these exquisite designs. Created by Minneapolis-based Bamboo for Campiello, the posters hang not only in the Italian eatery’s three locations, but also in the homes and offices of its customers. The demand, notes Bamboo partner Kathy Soranno, bodes well for Campiello’s brand-awareness initiative.

In an effort to boost sales, Campiello’s owner Richard D’Amico had developed a monthly program of specialty menus that spotlighted the cuisine of different Italian regions. He approached Bamboo to create a campaign including advertising, direct-mail, menus and posters. “We got off to a shaky start in our kick-off meeting when Richard directed us to create ‘something old yet contemporary.’ I was perplexed as to whether this was even possible,”Soranno recalls.

It’s precisely that old-new dichotomy that makes these posters so effective. Soranno and colleague Jenney Stevens found inspiration in vintage European posters, then updated the aesthetic with modern touches using Adobe Illustrator. “Our strategy was to draw upon the iconography, color, typography and composition of posters from the 1930s and ’40s, while creating a fresh look,” Soranno says. “We painted these posters on the computer. [Illustrator’s] Mesh Tool allowed us to apply a free-form light-and-shadow technique that mimics the craft of painting.”

HOW’s judges lauded the posters’ timelessness. “We’re going to look back at these 20 years from now and think they’re fresh,” says judge Steven Morris.

In keeping with that vintage feel, Soranno spec’ed a hefty paper, Fox River’s Coronado Bright White Vellum 100lb. cover. The designers worked closely with locally based Diversified Graphics to ensure the depth of color that’s a hallmark of antique lithographs. They went through four rounds of color corrections (the job printed in six colors) to fine-tune the colors, vignettes and registration.

Soranno says her team was the most challenged not by illustrating or printing the job, but by choosing the images to represent each region. “Reducing a region’s personality to a color was helpful,” she says. “Sicily with its sun and ocean felt blue and yellow; therefore the sardine package seemed appropriate.”

“These designs hit all my senses,” says judge Matt Mattus. “I can feel them and taste them.”

In the end, all three judges claimed “Lazio” as their own, so Bamboo graciously provided extra copies. Now it’s left to the HOW staff to battle over the remaining posters.