In April of 2018, I was tasked with making a poster for an annual Louis Arm­strong event. I used digital collage techniques that co­mbined my visual style with his, to create a poster that said, “This is about Armstrong.”


I visited Queens College’s Armstrong collection to learn more about the artist—his personality, his life, and his vast array of collages.

Sketching while listening to his music let me feel what to convey. I aimed to express his warmth and attention-commanding presence, while visually referencing his collage style.

Armstrong was known to carry a bowtie and a handkerchief; I incorporated them in the sketches. I was hoping to sneak in Swiss Kriss, but time did not permit it.


The colors in the poster were based on a collage I saw at the archives. Black, green, and time-yellowed gold. His collages were covered in tape, so I refer­enced that as well.

I was able to scan in clear tape by adding contrast with pastel. Brown pastel for the yellow tape, to give it more color depth. See these below.

I scanned in cardboard and paper textures as well, and a separate pastel texture for his suit.


I combined type and hand-drawn text to emulate a collection of random scraps. Using Futura and varying word spacing, I tried to emulate old news­papers and retro ads.

After adjusting for anatomical correctness and readability, we arrived at the poster below.


I can’t post the exact piece I referenced for legal reasons, but you can browse his collages here. Thanks to Ricky Riccardi for the tour of the archives.

September 1, 2018

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