Made you look! Speaking with Ian Jepson on the art of poster design

We’ve been fans of Ian Jepson’s work for some time now. A graphic designer and illustrator based in Cape Town, Ian’s made a name for himself as one of SA’s go-to poster designers. His work is characterised by his use of contrasting colour and vibrant, eye-catching visuals for some of the country’s coolest local acts and events.

Having started out designing posters and flyers for a friend’s band in college, Ian has moved on to lend his signature style to the likes of international acts such as Spoon, a series for Seoul Escape Room and even an Es Pop Ediciones’ edition of Lemmy Kilmister’s autobiography.

We caught up with him to find out more about his process and his love for music, and to discover a few of his favourite posters.

How did you first get into poster design for gigs specifically?

Back when I was still in college, I became friends with the guys from The Beams – a band that was playing loads of gigs around Cape Town at the time. I somehow convinced them to trust me with making their posters and flyers, and so for a while I worked with them and a couple other bands like The Plastics on artwork, but after a couple years the work slowed down and then stopped completely. Three years ago I was once again asked to make a poster, for an event called ‘Wrestlemania’ – and suddenly work started pouring in and hasn’t stopped since then.


How do you go about creating the aesthetic for each different band or act’s poster?

The aesthetic usually depends on the band or event – as an example, a poster for a rock band will be rougher, with more black and texture while a poster for an electronic act will have smoother lines and a softer colour palette. Sometimes going the opposite direction works well too though, so it’s not an exact science.

Similarly, how do you design the different fonts for each poster?

Creating the type for the posters is usually a totally organic thing. I sketch out the space I have to work with, try a few ideas and see what feels best – usually the concept for the poster is what dictates the style of the type, but every now and then it’s the other way around.

If you could pick an absolute favourite gig poster, which one would it be and why?

Damn… My favourites change so often, it’s usually the last poster I made (if I was happy with the outcome), but for all-time favourite, I’d have to say my poster for The Dollfins with the exploding guitar. It’s also crazy how many times I’ve written down the phrase “exploding guitar”.


You’ve also done a bit of work for international musicians. How did that come about?

All the international work so far has come from bands and promoters seeing my work online and contacting me, but I have yet to figure out how to get through to the bigger bands – who do you speak to about doing a poster for Black Sabbath’s final tour?

Lastly, your posters are all very busy and eye-catching. How do you use colour in your poster design?

I honestly just pick colours that I think will offer the best contrast, and that I think look good – I also often steal colour combinations from various other artworks and use them in different ways, hoping that no-one will ever notice.

View a few of Ian’s posters (and a bit of his process) below, and find more on his website

Glam-Poster68ceb828802007.55d3389f38eb5SPOON-POSTER-v5-copyJOHN-WIZARDS-POSTER-v3Untitled-3ICFTJ DEC POSTER v3tumblr_n8t0um8UP81sp2l43o1_1280Ian Jepson Sol GemsSOL-GEMS-POSTER-4DTL-Poster-NOLOGO-copytumblr_nyoj3uNlAQ1sp2l43o1_1280

Follow Graphic Art Month on 10and5.

Graphic Art Month on 10and5


  1. This is mnandi for my eyes!