Arts Desk

U Street Music Hall’s Show-Poster Minimalism

Before a cluster of local DJs turned the former Cue Bar at 1115 U St. NW into a dance club, it “looked like a Dave & Buster’s had sex with a Thai restaurant,” co-owner Jesse Tittsworth once told Washington City Paper. The club’s current minimalism couldn’t strike a more different tone: It’s stripped down and utilitarian, as though you could snap in any kind of dance party. The vibe trickles down to the show posters that hang in one corner of the club, which showcase the kind of simple, elegant design you’d expect from, say, the cover of a German microhouse 12-inch.

The club, which celebrates its second anniversary this week, only prints one copy of each poster design. They’re the work of co-owner Brian Miller, an architect (his boutique firm, Edit, is so cool it doesn’t have a website) and DJ (code name: Brian Billion). “These posters are just a small ongoing project,” he writes, “and from a design standpoint most of them could be turned out with a copy of Microsoft Word.” He shared some of his basic rules for poster-making.

Space the posters out
“We began with more traditional posters that were supposed to layer over time, but the effect was cacophonous and it was hard to quickly read the show information in dim light,” Miller writes. Now, the posters don’t touch, and each remains in place for just a few weeks.

Don’t overload the information
“All we really need to communicate is a headliner and date,” Miller writes. After all, if you’re standing in U Street Music Hall, you know where the next show is.

It’s about the overall effect
The posters are all black and white and contain mostly geometric forms. “None of them are very interesting and some are intentionally visually unbalanced, but it’s the continually changing overall arrangement of a dozen or so that gives the space some life.”

Images courtesy Brian Miller

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  • PTRQ

    Beautiful! A beautiful touch for one of my favorite places on Earth. I don't know why I haven't thought of this before, but I'm really going to have to ask if I can get one of those one day. That would be a perfect touch framed in my house.

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