When in VERA:
Designing Live Music

versione italiana

We DesignTellers explore the application of Design in any possible size and shape. This time, during my permanence here in the Netherlands, I have come across a set of band posters at Vera, one of the most important venues for live music in Groningen, the city where I live. Screen-printed on a very thick and large-texture paper, they caught my attention because of their original and always different layouts, customized ad hoc for every artist or band depicted in the artwork.

A very interesting work that I immediately wanted to deepen with a #TelleReportage. I found out that these posters are exclusively made for the Vera concert schedule by the 'Vera Art Division', a group of artists most of whom have studied at Minerva Academy, in Hanzehogeschool University of Applied Sciences in Groningen. One of these artists is Kim Hunnersen, a.k.a. Helemaalkim, illustrator and graphic designer from Groningen working at Vera as a corporate artist since 2004. Faithful to my curiosity and passion for music, I went to her studio to meet her and ask some questions about her activity.

Q: Creating posters is a huge passion of yours. How did it all start?
I was, and still am, a poster collector myself. It all started when I was 12 or 13, I used to see very nice concert posters in the library and all around the city. That is how I became really fond of that kind of art, which is possible to showcase anywhere, and it is potentially connectable with many other forms of art, like music in my case.

Q: Let's talk about Vera, which is a point of reference for live music here in Groningen. How did you begin to work?
While still at university, I was looking for an interesting internship related to my field of study and I personally asked Vera staff to let me create graphic posters for their scheduled concert dates. That’s how I became the first intern in Vera in 2004. After my internship I decided to stay as a member of the Vera Art division. Albeit it is a volunteer job, I can still sell my own creations on my website.

Q: Do you have any artistic guideline to follow when you design a poster?
Not at all. The only parameters that I have are the band/artist's name and their music, which I listen to as an inspiration in the Design process. This is the aspect that I love the most of this job. It allows me to work freely without any creative restriction, and I use any kind of technique when realizing a poster: from hand drawing to collages, from photographs to computer post-processing and full color screen printing.

Q: How many people compose this 'Vera Art Division'?
We are a collective of 12 individual artists. It's a very integrated department as we work in the same screen printing workplace in the attic of Vera in its very structure. Working in a group gives us the opportunity to share ideas, to confront each other's work and to show people how posters are made with a teamwork spirit. For this purpose, we were present at Eurosonic 2018 – one of the major music festival in Europe and the main event for live music in Groningen [e.n.] – with an exhibition and poster sale in GR-ID (the graphic museum of Groningen).
Q: Why do you find it so important to demonstrate the process of screen printing?
Designing posters is a slow process. In such a frenetic world, it is skipped by concert venues because of the predominant (and cheaper) industrial production of posters, leaflets and advertising. Screen printing is a creative process that requires days of work, a proper space and technical tools, and finally several steps of drawing, printing and refining before a single item is completed. Unfortunately, people often forget how expensive it is to create one in terms of energy, time and materials, as well as how unique it is to bring home a numbered poster explicitely made for a concert instead of a serial-produced gadget. To my knowledge, Vera is currently the only musical venue in the Netherlands that maintains such a practice.

Q: Vera is a place with its own identity, also thanks to posters like yours visible all-around Groningen. Do you consider your work something more than just graphic arts?
Besides the artistic endeavor per se, these posters translate into something very meaningful considering that there is a history behind Vera club. It is in fact a former 'student club' which became a wider cultural movement in Groningen during the '80s, and screen printing was one of the main channels of artistic expression of that socio-cultural environment.

Being a musical journalist and a frequent concert goer, I am always in search of something worth collecting as a unique piece of memory of a musical night. Vera posters represent one of the most valuable examples that I have ever met, showing also how Design at its best always gathers aesthetic and utility, but it can carry a far deeper meaning than it may appear.

Here follow Kim Hunnersen-Helemaalkin contacts:

Illustration/ Design/ Screen Printing/ Photography