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Issue Date: February 2009


POP art


Kristen Hampshire
The bold, color-popping posters designed by the Bubble Process, a design-illustration collaboration between Sean Higgins and Nicholas

Rezabek, stand out as illustrative, meticulously detailed creations. They look a little weird — but in a good way.

Take the poster for the alternative band the Breeders. It features a giant peacock wearing go-go boots and locket-sized family photo headshots in each feather.

Or there’s the poster for indie-rock group Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, with its accordion of cartoonish hands.

“Hand-drawn elements are what people know us for,” says Higgins, noting his affinity for drawing eyeballs and wagon wheels. He sometimes hides these elements in his designs. Meanwhile, Rezabek is the mastermind behind the Bubble

Process’ hand-drawn text.

Their combined talents result in lyrical, loud posters for clients such as the House of Blues and the Beachland Ballroom. Their illustrations have promoted acts such as the Dave Matthews Band and Death Cab for Cutie.

“With concert posters, there is more of a sense of design freedom to creatively experiment, which is rare in today’s fast-paced design world,” Higgins says.

The Bubble Process is the new generation of poster artists, joining the company of poster greats such as Derek Hess and Sean Carroll of Sandusky Bay Poster Works.

Higgins says the popularity of poster art hasn’t died out with the digital age. “CDs and records are becoming a thing of the past, so posters are a great way to make extra money while touring,” he says.

The Bubble Process finishes only a few posters a month. “We go to great lengths to get things just right,” Rezabek notes, explaining that the creative process is a long-distance one. He works from Brooklyn, N.Y., and Higgins lives in Cleveland.

The duo hatches ideas via instant messenger, volleying scanned and e-mailed sketches back and forth, building on each other’s concepts. They work digitally, together but apart, until a design is complete. Then Higgins screen-prints posters by hand in his basement.

One of the first posters where this telecommuting system really gelled was for the Beachland Ballroom’s promotion of Be Your Own Pet and the Black Lips.

The image is a man-pet: a squarely primitive human head atop squat, elephantlike legs. The penciled texture detail is decidedly Higgins. The text treatment and abstract characters are classic Rezabek. “I am usually the thicker line, the color and sometimes the concept-pusher,” Rezabek says.

Getting a message across makes poster art a challenge, but for the Bubble Process, posters are a creative outlet, says Higgins.

“Posters are a way to keep drawing and get our art out there.”

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