Saturday, June 29, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic Strings Attached Tour Pittsburgh poster - some process pieces

Here's some fun and interesting (funteresting?) news: I worked on a poster for "Weird Al" Yankovic's current "Strings Attached" Tour! It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Al's, so it has been quite exciting for me to work on an official poster for the legendary artist. Since the poster has been formally announced, I thought I'd show a few process pieces and give a little commentary of how we got to the final image.

The short version of how I got involved with this project is that one of Al's tour managers contacted me and we talked about a few different ideas. Since Pittsburgh is my hometown, I asked to take on the poster for the July 7th stop at the Benedum Center in the downtown cultural district. Al played there in 2017 and it's a nice venue. Anyway, Pittsburgh is known for being the hometown of icon Andy Warhol, so we wanted to do something in that vein.

The first draft I put together combined a Warhol-esque grid that is reminiscent of a number of his prints, such as the Marylin Monroe grid below:

The poster was going to have Kuni, Gedde Watanabe's character in "UHF", leaping outward from the grid background, like so:

For this part, I called on my friend and frequent collaborator Jeff McComsey, and he came up with this image, which I really like. The text at the top and bottom of the poster were based on this promotional poster:

Once I found the font in question, I was able to duplicate it and create all kinds of images, such as...

I still like this one. Perhaps it'll still see some use? Anyway, the first draft got scrapped for a simpler, more iconic Warhol image of the Campbell's soup can. Warhol's original was made in 1962, so I found a few different labels from around that time:

And then I went about recreating the image as below. The final version only shows the relatively simplistic front of the label, but there is actually a full back as well.

Jeff then took the label and added it to his rough of R2D2 - that is to say, a version that is legally distinct from R2D2, or perhaps a parody (yes, that's it). Al is known for a number of things, including his two Star Wars-themed songs, so it doesn't take much to complete the reference, or at least I don't think it does. We were asked to remove the dome on top of the Droid's body to highlight the soup can part of it.

For obvious reasons, one of my favorite Warhol creations is this Superman print:

I really wanted to do something similar for the poster and pay homage to that particular image, but it wasn't to be - they wanted the simpler, more evocative image that ended up being the final version.

They were probably right to make that change, but I still like the Superman reference. Al posted the image of the final poster on his Instagram page on June 23rd:

A post shared by Al Yankovic (@alfredyankovic) on

And I think people like it so far! The poster is part of the VIP package for the concert, so everyone with those particular tickets will get a print on the night of the show. I'll get a few copies for myself, too!

Al is also selling t-shirts for every single print, including this one.

I believe that these are made-to-order, so they should be available until at least the end of the tour! They come in different colors and both men's and women's sizes! You can order some here:

As you might expect, this whole experience has been one of the highlights of my year so far. I've got tickets to the July 7th show, so I'll be there, nervously eavesdropping on VIP conversations to see if I can hear what people have to say about the posters. Maybe I'll grab them from angry and perplexed passers-by and sign them while they chase and beat me in an attempt to get them back! And then I will explain the whole thing and we'll all have a good laugh. It's possible.

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