Our annual poster is a Festival tradition. Year in and year out since 1974, we’ve issued a poster to promote the Festival. In a feat that’s unique among art festivals, one designer, Lanny Sommese, has designed all of our posters. It’s a remarkable body of work, and it reflects only a small portion of Lanny’s career. In addition to doing our posters, he’s exhibited his work all over the world, taught hundreds of students in Penn State’s graphic design program, written stuff for scholarly publications, and even served – at least partly – as inspiration for a character in Chipp Kidd’s novel, The Cheese Monkeys.
Lanny’s posters tell us stories – and not just that there’s a Festival just around the corner. Since he created them in different media – paint, colored pencil, collage, and now via digital means – they show us the wide range of tools graphic designers have at their disposal. The really old posters are in a variety of sizes; we didn’t land on a standard 24” by 36” size right away.
Over the years the posters’ style has changed too, from bold geometrics to the quirkier figurative works of recent years. And they’re a guide to our on-again, off-again romance with the Jester, our unofficial, occasional mascot.
More importantly, the posters inspire people to tell us stories. We’ve found that many people want the poster from the year they met their spouse, or got married, or finished their Penn State degree. People tell us about sending posters to foreign countries, seeing them in doctor’s offices, or putting one up in a dorm room.
Lana Raup of State College has collected all of Lanny’s Festival posters and has them on display in her house in State College. She’s a former Board Member of the Festival and is a great supporter of what we do. She’s made sure her son has some Festival posters for his house too. I know lots of people with Festival posters, but Lana has more than anyone I know (including me!).
You don’t have to go over to Lana’s place to see the full collection of Festival posters. They’re on display in the HUB-Robeson Center on campus. We have most – but not all – of the posters hanging in our office in downtown State College too. The utter coolness of the collection bowls over first-time visitors to our office.
A grant from the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau covered the cost of our 2017 poster. It features the Festival’s Jester standing shoulder to shoulder with an artist and a performer in a stylized Central Pennsylvania landscape with the tower of Penn State’s Old Main in the background. A happy and radiant sunrise presides over the whole scene: one serving of Arts Festival weather is coming right up!
The poster is available for free now through the end of this year’s Festival (at which point it joins our inventory of vintage posters). You can pick up yours at our office (403 S. Allen Street, Suite 205A, State College) and at the following locations, while supplies last. They’ll also be available at our official merchandise booth at the corner of Allen Street and College Avenue during the Festival.
Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau
800 E. Park Avenue, State College
HUB-Robeson Center Desk
Penn State Campus
Hintz Family Alumni Center
Penn State Campus
Penn State Federal Credit Union
1937 North Atherton Street, State College
Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau
One West Market Street, Lewistown
If you’re not local, we’ll be glad to mail a 2017 poster for a donation of $5 to cover the shipping (now through July 7th). Vintage posters are $10 each, plus shipping. You can order them here.
When a poster’s gone, it’s gone forever, so if you want one to mark a milestone your life like your first Festival, graduation, engagement, marriage, – or just because you like the image – get yours soon. No worries about taking Lana’s poster — she came by for hers already!