TSA Celebrating Three Years

06 June 2011

TSA Celebrating Three Years
18 in x 24 in
3 color screen print
Limited run of 75


We recently crossed the three year mark as a blog and decided to do a little something to celebrate… so we commissioned the very talented Sonnenzimmer to create a poster for us. We challenged them to design around the largely abstract concept of a strange attractor, and left it at that, giving them full creative reign over the design. The result is this beautiful 3-color screen print, which we’re offering up on the site as a limited edition.

When we picked up the prints at the Sonnenzimmer studio here in Chicago, Nick and Nadine gave us a grand tour of their incredible space and went into a bit of detail about the process of creating the poster for us. We were blown away with all the hard work and thought put into the piece and wanted to share some of it here with its release. Below is a short write-up they sent over along with a couple photos from the process.

Thanks again N&N, can’t wait to work with you in the future.


Nadine and I have made many posters for tons of different organizations; cultural institutions, universities, punk bands, even the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. That said, In our six year history, we have never been commissioned to make a poster for a blog. Maybe it’s the sign of the times, or maybe it was just good fit. Either way, this was a total welcomed surprise. Historically, posters have documented cultural events and happenings. So, having this opportunity was a very contemporary way in doing something very historical – if we may say that. We were psyched to create a poster for The Strange Attractor’s third year anniversary as we both have followed the blog over the years, but also honored that they would go on this journey with us through the commission.

The question is though, how do you make a poster for a blog? What do you highlight? Especially when the client’s sole interest is highlighting? Bands are fairly easy to work for. We typically just try to match the particular atmosphere of their music. Blogs have an atmosphere, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. Every visitor brings their own perspective and motive into viewing the posts and all the contributors are connected through a common interest that is not exactly defined.

After a few false starts, Nadine and I decided on an intuitive approach to creating an image based on the origin of TSA’s name. Strange attractors, have their roots in chaos theory. I won’t even try to recite the definition. Basically, they are the things that hold seemingly chaotic systems together. With this in mind, we went about creating an image library. Drawings and the words “the strange attractor” were printed on sheets of tiny stickers that we then reassembled into a larger image. This made for a visually connected, yet chaotic image.

This imagery was then edited down and used as an almost textural background for the poster. Printed in a blue to red split fountain, the colors almost vibrate off of the paper’s muted grey tone. Much of our work at Sonnenzimmer is improvised. Meaning, we often don’t have the poster completely planned out when we begin printing. The printing process itself becomes part of the creation of the poster. In a sense, we sculpt the image by working through it layer by layer. This project was no different.

With the basic structure of the poster laid down, we then worked in the text. Again we went with quite a strange color combination, peachy orange. In theory, these colors should not work together, blue, red, peach orange and grey, but it was this fine line of color relationships that we were interested in with this project, another set of strange attractors.

Once we had the text and imagery printed, the poster still felt like it needed something. We get to this point a lot in our work. To this day, there’s still no real formula for completing the project, as each image is different and all the nuances create their own relationships. For this project, the answer was actually right in front of us. To really bring the thing back around full circle, we used imagery from our previous versions of this poster to finish it off, printed upside down over the title in a transparent silver ink.

All in all, this poster was a great learning experience for us. It really challenged our way of working and especially our ideation process. We are really happy with how the poster came out and hope the TSA community likes it too.


06 June 2011, 8:43 am Luke Tonge says:

Congrats on 3 great years! Here’s to the next 3…
Lovely to see the process behind the poster.

– from all at FFF

06 June 2011, 4:45 pm Pete Barnett says:

Thanks, Luke! We’re really happy with the result. It was a pleasure working with Nick&Nadine.

08 June 2011, 1:55 pm Joey says:

Congrats! That’s 3 years of steady and inspiring content.

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