Talisman brings posters to life for Everyman Theatre’s 30th anniversary, with subtly animated “easter eggs”

To deliver a poster series and an anniversary print identity, Talisman studio pushes the boundary between a poster, a film and an animation.

20 April 2022

If you only caught a quick glimpse of the poster designs for Everyman Theatre’s latest season, they might indeed look static. It’s only when you look closer, for example, at the “Y” or “O” in the poster for Cry It Out, that you notice hidden details, in this case, a rolling baby bottle, a lactating “O”, and a “Y” that turns into a martini glass, topped with a self-stirring olive. These ingenious new posters are the latest work from Talisman, a new visual storytelling and design studio, who has recently worked with the non-profit Baltimore-based theatre Everyman Theatre, to celebrate its 30th anniversary. The set of posters launched alongside a new print identity and logo for the theatre, for which Talisman looked to mirror images and continue the theme of hidden details, flipping an “E”into a three.

The 30th anniversary poster project, titled Everyman @ 30, began during lockdown, when the theatre’s anniversary season of plays had to be put on hold or run as online streaming events. As such, the poster designs had to be changed multiple times to accommodate delays – some of the originally slated 30th season plays took two years to reach live audiences. The final series is based on a simple premise: bringing static posters to life with animation. Yet, the thought that has gone into each is more complex. Talisman founder Jacob Kemp explains that working on the final animation reveal was “really was a matter of creating a short film, rather than an animation or a compilation. The piece needed to have an introduction, a build, a climax, a denouement.” The resulting motion design reveals tiny details about each play while suggesting its tone and storyline, all within a few seconds.

As for how they looked, Jacob wanted the illustrations to “glide across the screen like scrims and flats in a theatre”. The founder adds on the work: “I knew I wanted to consider a sculptural composition, vibrant areas of single colour, and typography – I poured through vintage Vogue covers, Art Deco advertisements, old New Yorker covers.” Another crucial element is how the posters deepen the emotional arc of the play they introduce; “I’ve always loved show posters, and the best ones are bold, iconic, memorable, yes – but they are also emotional.” While each of the posters function on their own, they also come together to create a poster grid, revealing yet another secret design element when arranged as one – a seamlessly integrated 30.

GalleryTalisman: Everyman @ 30 (Copyright © Talisman, 2022)

Talisman: Everyman @ 30 Hidden Message Poster Reveal (Copyright © Talisman, 2022)

Alongside the posters, Talisman has delivered a print identity and new logo for Everyman Theatre, which is based on Jacob’s instinct to “always flip something upside down”. “Everyman’s 30th identity print design focused on a flipping logo that would transform the ‘E’ into a three. The design flowed quickly from there–seeing the theatre as a place for conversation, a place for connection, a chance to hear different points of view, and see others’ lives as we might never have experienced them.”

While the Everyman @ 30 series will be used across print, digital and social throughout the theatre’s season, the motion graphics can be seen across social media, in digital billboards and on the site – although this style of work might appear again beyond the anniversary season. “I hope the theatre will continue to incorporate motion into future seasons and campaigns,” concludes Jacob. “It was a delight to bring the series to life and to celebrate Everyman’s past and present.” Everyman @ 30 brings together the work of Jacob Kemp and Tommy Huang, alongside animator Mathieu Maillefer and composer Joe Kye.

GalleryTalisman: Everyman @ 30 (Copyright © Talisman, 2022)

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Talisman: Everyman @ 30 (Copyright © Talisman, 2022)

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Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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