With the 2018 Indycar season having just come to an end, we take a closer look at the superb series of posters that British designer James Gibson created for Carlin Racing.
Carlin Motorsport, a British team with more than 22 years of racing under their belt, made the jump across the pond for the first time in 2018. It would be their debut season in the Verizon Indycar Series, fielding Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball as their drivers.
Their goal was to make an impression – both on and off the circuit. For each of the 16 race weekends of the season, they published a bespoke poster at the beginning of the respective race week. All of them were designed by James Gibson.
This was the first project on which Carlin and James collaborated. ‘Carlin have been a very accommodating client in that they weren't too constraining with the initial brief’, James says.
There were however some key aspects to consider in the design process. Both cars – each sporting a different livery – had to be the heroes of each poster. But the bigger challenge was that it should still be possible to guess every circuit or venue, even if the name had been removed from the print. ‘My starting point for each design was simply the location of the round and a lot of research—be that circuit, town, state, landmarks, state colours... anything that could be applied.’
I won't lie, there were a couple of late nights.
Another more pressing challenge was time. The Indycar schedule is known to be very tight. 17 races are squeezed into 28 weeks, resulting in many back-to-back races as well as one double-header. Hence, there wasn't much time for James to turn the posters around. ‘I'd say that from initial sketches to finished design, it would take approximately 4 to 5 working days in total.’ Note that this doesn't yet include the feedback rounds with the client.
So how did James and Carlin keep delivering on time? The key was to stay at least one week ahead of schedule. Especially the back-to-back races had to be taken into account. Therefore, sketches and rough concepts needed to get approval way earlier. ‘I won't lie, there were a couple of late nights but ultimately they all were ready for start of each race week.’
Among the posters are some real highlights. The design for the Phoenix Grand Prix for example features a split symmetric design to represent the twilight race with daylight in the top half and dark skies in the bottom one. But if James had to pick just one, the Long Beach poster would do it for him with its low view of the cars and the Queen Mary in the background. ‘Also, just making a design for such a classic race weekend was a privilege.’