BEHIND THE SCENES: HOW THE 2018 JAZZ FEST POSTER CAME ABOUT
Fats Domino has been portrayed twice before on the Jazz Fest poster: 1989’s colorful pop-art quad-panel by Richard Thomas - the first time an actual performer was portrayed on the poster - and Michalopoulos' 2006, honoring Fats’ dramatic Katrina rescue. His passing late last year reminded all of us of his status in the world well beyond New Orleans.
The Jazz Fest poster strives to capture a slice of time and place to convey a performer’s magic in an historical context. (See Pavy’s 2007 Jerry Lee Lewis - who will perform a tribute to Fats at this year’s Jazz Fest.) How do you convey the buoyant musical persona of a New Orleans legend who had been portrayed so well twice before?
The challenge was to visualize the continuity of Fats Domino’s influence. Commissioning Terrance Osborne to create a continuum based off his sold-out 2012 portrait of Trombone Shorty was a natural
Artist Terrance Osborne brainstormed with the publisher for six weeks, during which dozens of ideas were conceived, sketched and discarded until the idea of expanding upon Osborne’s 2012 portrait of Trombone Shorty bubbled up. Another six weeks ensued developing the allegory of six decades of musical heritage being passed around the corner in a matched print showcasing our 300-year old city’s backstreets. (OK, Shorty’s Treme neighborhood isn’t exactly around the corner from Fats’ Lower Ninth Ward, but considering Fats' global reach it seems like it.)
Yet it had to be more: It had to stand on its own since not everyone owns the 2012 poster; it had to be pitch perfect in its knowing detail, right down to the diamond-encrusted horseshoe tie pin, domino tie and '59 pink Caddy; and, it had to be a great picture even for a viewer who doesn’t know Fats’ story. Osborne hits all those notes and then some.
Fats' corner was the world. When the Beatles played City Park in 1964, they caused a near-riot by running late. Turns out they were hanging with Fats in a trailer behind the stadium, sharing stories and playing one of his own hits for him, “I’m in Love Again.” Imagine that. McCartney later recorded the song on his 1988 album, “Back in the USSR.” The Beatles’ Lady Madonna (1968) was conceived by Paul channeling Fats. (Fats covered the song later that year.) Now that’s influence.