Every month for three years, Helsinki-club Post Bar has commissioned a poster from local designers to big industry names
Featuring a broad mix of techniques, the posters have reached acclaim in their own right. Those involved so far include Braulio Amado, Tuukka Tammisaari, Toni Elg, Irene Suosalo and Antti Kalevi.
- Ayla Angelos
- 30 July 2021
Post Bar is a concrete-clad dance club in Helsinki, run by a team of four including art director Justus Valtanen and creative director Joni Lindroos. A small and intimate venue that houses up to 200 people, those who visit often go for the sound system and, of course, its top tier programming – Objekt, Batu, PLO Man, Motor City Drum Ensemble and Mama Snake are just a few examples. But alongside its credited selection of underground music, the club also releases a poster a month, designed to announce its new artist spotlight. The series of graphic posters launched three years ago with the likes of Braulio Amado designing the debut in 2018 and Tuukka Tammisaari, Toni Elg, Irene Suosalo and Antti Kalevi following suit.
The posters have now reached acclaim in their own right, and run in utter synchronicity with its well-versed line-up of music. The two elements work hand-in-hand, with the posters not only promoting the club across the city but also fuelling the local art scene. The idea was born because the team didn’t want to have a single in-house designer and instead chose to steer their attention onto an ongoing collection of posters designed by a broad range of talent. “The idea of a monthly art poster that would be sold in limited quantities actually came sometime before Post Bar was even in the making,” Joni tells It’s Nice That. “We thought about this a lot, but it just didn’t feel good to print out hundreds of posters and tape those all around the city from a sustainability perspective. We wanted to do things differently and show a light to the artists. Usually, just the DJs are stars at a dance club, but visual artists are equal at ours.”
When commissioning a designer, there are no strict rules or guidelines. The only constraints are the size and colour palette, otherwise, the artist is given free rein. “We want to commission mostly local artists from different fields of art, from up and coming talents to old stagers,” says Justus. “But, we’ve always wanted to throw in some international talents every now and then.” For example, when Braulio designed the debut poster, it was a perfect pairing considering the founders had long been fans of the graphic designer’s output, with his “solid background” in the field proving to be a convincing start for the project. “Funny thing,” says Justus, “I remember when I received the first design from Braulio for the first-ever poster, it was something that I wasn’t ‘expecting’, and I tried to ask whether he could send me something different in addition.” Turns out, Braulio wasn’t all that pleased, and instead expressed his love for the initial idea and how it was fine if they didn’t want to use the work.
“It was a lesson for myself and ever since,” he adds, “we’ve carried on with the idea of not giving artists any guidelines, but total freedom of expression. I loved the poster even more in the end. You could say that Braulio actually had quite an impact on what the concept is today.”
With such a vast collection of works in the archive, no two pieces are the same and there is quite literally something for everyone, from Aliina Kauranne’s grid-like poster of psychedelic platforms to Antti Kalevi’s deconstructed and squiggly fruit bowl. Other works are more tranquil, like Eeli Saaristo’s contribution of a sketchy landscape of a surfer, floating on their board and gazing out into the sunset and windmills in the distance. Meanwhile, others are photographic, like Pyry Pelkonen’s eery and magical snapshot of a pond. Some are also illustrative, such as Santeri Valtanen’s golden tinted artwork of fish moving around a net. And then there are the more 3D creations, like Matti Vilho’s abstract composition of a hand placed among a variety of shapes and colour. “I love that we have such a wide range of techniques, styles and niches represented in our series,” shares Joni.
Having been in the making for the last three years now, the two founders have of course witnessed a few changes over time. Post Bar’s graphic arm has evolved from hundreds of posters to a limited series, which has naturally given the project a more coveted feel. “At first, it wasn’t hugely popular,” explains Joni, “but slowly it turned into a thing. The most popular designs sell out in hours.” You can even see their posters used in Finnish reality TV shows and rented listings, “which is hilarious and super cool at the same time.” The Post Bar team is clearly doing something right, and with the world slowly but surely opening up again, we can expect nothing less than their fan base (and more) returning excitedly to get their hands on more recognisable artworks – and to listen to some good IRL music, too. “Some of our most loyal party goers have like ten of them at their homes which makes my heart cry,” Joni adds.
Post Bar: Braulio Amado (Copyright © Braulio Amado, 2018)
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she became online editor in 2022 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.