James Marchment

Graphic and Web Design

Up In Smoke

Dramatic Poster

drama saul bass inspired retro sixties film noir poster graphic design james marchment

Drama, Mystery and Intrigue

In spring of 2016, Austin-based theatre company performed "Up In Smoke", a noir-inspired dark comedy in which an unlikely trio attempt what they believe to be the perfect crime, only to see their plans unravel because of a misplaced cigar. As turnout for previous shows had been low, the troupe decided to try a new advertising strategy and contacted me for a poster design. I was tasked with creating something intriguing that would appropriately communicate the tone and genre of the show.

Hints and Allegations

Hidden within a Saul Bass-inspired illustration of the cigar referenced by the title, we can see the silhouettes of the three main characters standing in the ashes of the burning tobacco. This is a metaphor for how, in the events of the play, they will see their lives going 'up in smoke' as their crimes are discovered.

The typography here is also evocative of the film noir genre; the rough, hand-cut lettering of the title is a direct homage to the many posters designed by Bass for the films of Alfred Hitchcock. It is paired with a wide 1960s-style gothic sans serif for the remaining details, chosen both to match the vintage aesthetic and for readability.