Since the early 1920s, the official poster for The Championships, Wimbledon, has brought to life the archetypal English country garden, an image synonymous with the oldest tennis championship in the world. Distributed by London Transport up until the mid 1990s, the poster has become a collectors’ item, beloved by public and players alike.
But in 2012, the All England Club decided to move away from the traditional commissioned artist approach and instead put the poster design into the hands of the public.
For the first time, students from Kingston University were invited to enter a competition to design the 2012 poster, as part of their Art and Graphic design curriculum.
The AELTC, in consultation with branding agency Hat-trick, chose from over 50 entries, whittling them down to ’12 designs for 2012’, resulting in a dramatically different look and feel for 2012.
Putting pen to paper to replicate what the image of The Championships inspires is a subject that has been tackled in many ways - the grass, the strawberries, the all-white clothing rule – and the 12 winning entries left no stone unturned in representing Wimbledon in a variety of ways.
"This poster is about the crucial moment in a match where the ball is either in or out of court,” said James Jessiman, whose entry sits in the top left of the poster. “The motives for creating the images came from studying high frame rate videos and photographs of a tennis ball hitting a surface at high velocity. The resulting shapes inspired me to create a narrative showing the path of a ball."
Danielle Watt, whose entry is on the second row, second from the left, was more mysterious.
"My design has two halves, which make a whole. Using a Mono-printing technique the first marks to which the eye is drawn are the bold markings (or large ‘swoops’) where there is a lack of ink. These ‘swoops’ represent the organic movement of a player’s swing. The other half of the piece is dedicated to the parabolic path of a tennis ball, expressed through the subtle diagrammatical lines. Take these two main factors, and you have the foundations of the tennis game itself."
Hannah Cullen meanwhile, took a different tack.
“I was interested in showing the constant movement of the players and the ball and how this is reminiscent of a pendulum or a metronome. Considering this it was also important to capture the unpredictable nature of a game of tennis and the chaotic movement of the ball in play.”
Some, such as Joseph Salvatore Vass, whose entry is on the bottom row, second from the right, were inspired by their favourite shot.
“My favourite shot in tennis is the slice! With this as my point of inspiration I created visual slices of the lawn tennis Championships. I included the trophy to signify the heritage of the competition, a racket hitting a ball at high velocity, a crowd transfixed watching a point and the token fruit of Wimbledon.”
Others, such as Nicky Inchenko, on the bottom row, far left, concentrated on a particular moment. “My idea was to capture the moment just after the match has ended, when the events of those three of five sets, is put aside, so that the players can show their respect to one another. A moment that is consistent in a sport that is full of unpredictability.”
As did India Harvey, on the top row, far right.
“Here is the moment before a smash or a serve, when it seems as if the ball is suspended in mid-air by the outreached hand of the player. When seen stationary, we can begin to understand the mathematical precision and considered movement that is needed to win on the Wimbledon courts.”
The students also used a variety of techniques to produce their entries.
“For the piece I used a real tennis ball dipped in ink, I captured the shape of the ball using the mark it made to really evoke the feeling of when the ball hits the line, most importantly, the tension in this moment,” said Chengxuan Wu, whose entry is on the bottom row, second from the left.
As well as including their winning designs in their degree portfolios, the 13 winners (one was a joint entry), will spend a day at The Championships 2012.
You can buy The Championships 2012 Poster at the Official Wimbledon Shop