The Posters of Hannah Gilson
Hannah Gilson, a graduating senior and recipient of the President’s Medal and a Fulbright Scholarship, has been working as the office assistant for the music department since the fall of her freshman year. Led to her position by the Denison job postings, she was intrigued by the prospect of being involved with the music department as a non-major.
“I felt well-suited to help with tasks such as making programs, scanning music, coordinating with faculty, and more,” says Gilson. Having a family that was heavily involved with music led her to have a heavy interest in vocal and instrumental performance, making this job the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between work and personal interests.
Q&A with Hannah Gilson
What surprised you most about your job when you began working?
I think one of the most surprising things about this job when I first started was discovering that I actually was good at publicity design! When I interviewed for the job, I was asked if I had experience designing posters, specifically those that were 11x17. I had very little previous design experience but figured that with knowledge of photoshop from a high school photography class and google, I could figure it out!
My first posters were the two versions I made for the Denison Orchestra Sounds of London Concert, and I was genuinely amazed by how good they turned out for my first attempts! My confidence has grown with the number of posters I have done, though there are still things that I have to google (for example, I seem unable to remember how to crop headshots into circles despite having done it for four years).
Another thing I did not expect when beginning this job was how much joy it would bring me. I have been so grateful for the relationships I have developed with the music department faculty, fellow students, and the Eisner staff. I have enjoyed how my job has varied over time as well; some days I may be typing or folding programs, other days I might be giving a tour to a prospective student, greeting visiting artists during the TUTTI Festival, setting up for an award ceremony, or organizing furniture if that’s what’s needed.
There was also one week after just moving into the Eisner Center where I applied the numbers on every single locker in Eisner by hand. That being said, designing posters is definitely my favorite part of the job. As a political science and economics double major, so much of my course work is very theoretical so it’s nice to do something where there is a tangible result - I still get excited every time I see a recent design hanging on campus.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
When I start working on a poster design, the first thing I do is check which ensemble it is for, if performers’ names are being listed, if the concert takes place over multiple days, and if there are any performer headshots that need to be on the poster. All those things dictate the poster design as lots of text or specific photos may change the color palette or final design spacing.
Then, I’ll reference my past work and work to find graphics that fit my vision for the poster. In some cases, I will find a concept I like and start working before realizing that the spacing won’t work …. I still have designs that I love but never got a chance to use! I have also developed a sense for the specific styles of certain faculty members whose posters I have designed for years; if I know the taste of the person I am designing for that also dictates the final version of the poster. The most time-consuming part of the process is developing the base image prior to adding text because I often color graphics I find online by hand with the photoshop draw function to achieve the color scheme and resolution I want for a graphic.
What is your favorite work and why?
Asking me to pick a favorite work is like asking me to pick a favorite child! In the past couple of weeks, I have had so much fun going through old poster designs and recalling the artistic process that was involved with each one. There are over 50 and I remember each one. I’ll be honest that there are some I prefer over others, but it’s cool to look at the differences between the posters I designed as a freshman and as a senior and to see the similarities and areas of artistic growth.
My favorite posters to design are those for ensembles where there are no required photos because I have the most artistic freedom with those designs and can get the most creative… Those are also the posters that often have multiple versions because I get excited and cannot choose between designs, so I just send the faculty member coordinating the concert multiple options to choose from.