Lewis has even begun to pare down his poster work. He had been doing "theater posters, gastronomic or hospitality venues—a little of everything" and now is much more selective. He also strives "not to repeat myself as a designer or illustrator, hence my ever-evolving styles."
He also has become something of a champion of the form. "I have always, in every article, interview, or conference that I have been involved with, talked about the poster as a viable, vibrant medium. My bias has been more toward the poster biennials in Mexico, Europe, the United States, and Asia, where you quickly can see trends or movements. China is an emerging superforce in poster design and production because of the recent development of advertising there and also due to the simple body count of designers. There are over 400 design universities in China! You can imagine the percentage of designers currently working on posters." You can hear Lewis's excitement at the prospect of a nation of reinforcements shoring up the poster field.
The Test of Time
Lewis's work is driven by a love of "the many past poster masters I admire, such as Leonetto Cappiello, Jules Chéret, and the Push Pin Group. Where image, text, message, and purpose were paramount in the creation of their posters, they all were responsible for pushing the medium and the public's reaction to seeing the new works. They have an influence on my posters, as does the international travel I get in during a typical year."
The other driver is his concern with repetition. "When I drive my car, I go through the fifty-odd radio stations and marvel at the diversity of what I am hearing. Ska, techno, jazz, country—each is great in its own warped way. To me, the same is true of designing posters—not having one concrete viewpoint or style but rather a collection of mindsets or perspectives. I find it mind-numbing to see a designer with one style, one viewpoint, and really one solution to all problems."
For Lewis, a successful poster must "be able to last the test of time, not to date itself with fashionable visuals, and to rely on a seemingly simple idea at first that tends to eventually take on its own life." Posters should contain "many levels of information that, when digested, create a single image that causes a reaction in a single moment in time." Capturing that moment is the challenge. "My best posters, may I say, seemed to have appeared from the ether without much gray matter or effort applied. I have little explanation for them, but I am grateful for their surprise visits."
More Like Work
Despite his long-held appreciation of the poster, especially when printed in a large format, Lewis still finds the process of designing them "painful and more like work. The results may look positive, hopefully fresh and innovative, but the process, for me, is basic misery, full of self-doubt." Luckily for the rest of us, he continues to rise to the challenge.