A photo history: Posters of Ann Arbor Folk Festival

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

A spread of past designs at Q LTD's headquarters (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR - For over a decade, local design studio Q LTD has been commissioned to create the poster design for The Ark's Ann Arbor Folk Festival.

What began as large photographs of the headliners morphed into a process of inspiration and meticulous attention to detail, and every year Q delivers.

Many times, work on the design begins before the set list is released, so designers have to rely on capturing The Ark's connection to Ann Arbor and folk music.

"The posters are sometimes some of the most fun work we do," said managing director Christine Golus. "It really gets our creative skills out."

Christine Golus and designer Emily Cedar work on a design (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

But it's not without a challenge.

"We put forth three to five designs and we share them with The Ark," she said. "Because of the technology we have, they come out looking pretty finished. They pick a direction and oftentimes we have to refine. Sometimes it’s something as basic as color."

Senior designer Katie Chang, who is entering her sixth year at Q, chose the teal and marigold color scheme for this year's artwork. 

"We always come up with very distinct concepts in the beginning," she explained. "Everyone’s just so into it and passionate about it. We’re always happy to get involved or have our work shown."

According to Chang, consistently designing the poster year after year allows them to create a sense of harmony among their designs. "One of the privileges of being the designers year after year is we can bounce off of what was done before, make sure we’re not doing repeats but making sure we keep the same rhythm and feel of the posters."

Inside Q LTD's offices on Catherine St. downtown (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

Newcomer Emily Cedar came up with the design for this year's poster. She has been a designer at Q for a little over a year. She says the role music plays in her life helped her come up with the owl and guitar string motif.

"I play guitar and sing so I’m always looking at new chords, new songs, new artists," Cedar explained. "I was looking for something that I would hang up and would want to see every day."

It certainly is a shift from last year's intricate design, in which a man's beard covered most of the poster.

"One thing that allows this fresh design every year is we give an opportunity to our design staff every year to do the design work and sometimes it’s an intern, sometimes it’s a senior designer," said Golus. "It’s a nice opportunity especially for some of our newer designers that come in."


Design: Emily Cedar 
Printer: Foresight Group, 4-color offset


Design: Mike Bell 
Printer: VG Kids, 1-color silkscreen


Design: Lisa Marie Norton 
Printer: VG Kids, 3-color silkscreen


Design: Insa Keilbach 
Printer: Goetzcraft, 4-color offset


Design: Jocelyn Edin 
Printer: VG Kids, 3-color silkscreen


Design: Marie Kinscher 
Printer: VG Kids, 2-color silkscreen


Design: Jocelyn Edin 
Printer: Letterpress with Jim Horton


Design: Jocelyn Edin 
Printer: VG Kids, 3-color silkscreen


Design: Alissa Ampezzan 
Printer: Goetzcraft, 4-color offset


Design: Alissa Ampezzan 
Printer: Goetzcraft, 4-color offset


Design: Todd Szymanski 
Printer: Goezcraft, 4-color offset


Design: Rie Yamaoka 
Printer: VG Kids, 4-color silkscreen


Design: Rie Yamaoka 
Printer: Goetzcraft, 4-color offset


Design: Christine Golus 
Printer: Goetzcraft, 4-color offset


Design: Mike McGowan
Printer: Goetzcraft, 4-color offset


Design: Jocelyn Edin
Printer: Goetzcraft, 2-color offset

Which is your favorite throughout the years? Tell us in the comments below.


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