Carilla Karahan creates posters for music events “like a DJ might create a mix”

The Istanbul-based designer shares how he tries to accurately capture the mood of events and avoid “clichés” of poster design.

26 September 2023

It’s safe to say that the designer Carilla Karahan is pretty passionate about posters. In collaboration with the underground club Twentynine Palms in Taipei, the designer has been producing countless pieces for all of its events, creating visuals that capture the “mood” and theme of each night, while rejecting any dedication to a cohesive style of overall look. “For the project, I decided to create posters in different styles, like DJs might create a mix,” he says.

Carilla’s love for posters was instigated while studying for his degree in graphic design. At the start of his studies, he was assigned on-the-ground homework: to attend the 35th graphic design exhibition organised by the Turkish Graphic Designer Association, which takes place every year in Istanbul. Carilla recalls being “blown away” by the breadth of work on display from all areas of graphic design, but found himself most impressed by the posters, especially the posters that he saw as “breaking the rules”, like those of Turkish designer Sarp Sozdinler.

In 2018, Carilla discovered Polish poster design and, spurred on by his new discovery, he started making posters of his own every day, even entering a number of them into competitions, exhibitions and biennales like Mut Zur Wut, International Poster Biennale Lublin and Graphic Design Festival Scotland. “Even though I didn’t win any of the prizes it helped me to improve my skills in poster design, but most importantly it helped to keep up my creativity,” Carilla says.

GalleryCarilla Karahan: Twentynine Palms – Hot Nights (Copyright © Carilla Karahan, 2023)

Earlier this year Carilla was approached by his friend – a manager at Twentynine Palms – who asked if he wanted to start creating posters for their events. Carilla jumped at the opportunity; while he hadn’t previously ventured into the music industry, it had always been a dream of his. For each poster, Carilla is simply given the title of the event and no brief or guidelines, a creative freedom for which he feels “very lucky”.

For each poster Carilla works from the title, deriving ideas for images and styles, trying to accurately capture the mood of each night. For their spring party, the poster’s central element is a green figure that doubles as a plant emerging from a vase, while for their Hot Night event, the burning red dancing figure has the appearance of being captured through a thermal camera. When creating his work, Carilla pulls from a wide pool of influence. He’s inspired by greats of graphics like Ikko Tanaka and Koichi Sato for their use of gradients and textures, and contemporary designers and illustrators like Bráulio Amado, Félicité Landrivon and Alexis Jamet, for their ability to push stylistic boundaries with their work.

A series of posters Carilla sees as being particularly successful are those from the Listening Party: 2000s Throwback event. The posters show three abstract figures all holding music paraphernalia – a CD, walkman and record, which nod to the ways in which music was consumed in the 2000s. The figurative approach, the friendly, warm feel of the characters and the innovative use of shapes and shading makes the series truly unique – a mix of techniques that Carilla sees as helping him avoid the “clichés” of gig posters. Overall, Carilla hopes that people are able to see his posters as something beyond their central purpose, and view them not just as a gig poster, but a “piece of art”.

GalleryCarilla Karahan: 2000s Party (Copyright © Carilla Karahan, 2023)


Carilla Karahan: Twentynine Palms – Hardcore Nights (Copyright © Carilla Karahan, 2023)


Carilla Karahan: Twentynine Palms – Sleepless Nights (Copyright © Carilla Karahan, 2023)

GalleryCarilla Karahan: Twentynine Palms – Remixes of the Classics (Copyright © Carilla Karahan, 2023)


Carilla Karahan: Twentynine Palms – Moving Nights (Copyright © Carilla Karahan, 2023)


Carilla Karahan: Twentynine Palms – Spring Party (Copyright © Carilla Karahan, 2023)

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Carilla Karahan: Twentynine Palms – Silly Nights (Copyright © Carilla Karahan, 2023)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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