One of the murals along WaterLane in downtown Kingston(Photo: Joseph Wellington)
J'cans urged to support poster contest

The International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC) is announcing its eighth call for entries. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, this year's competition will be staged under the theme 'Women in Reggae'.

According to the organisers, the contest serves to highlight the many roles of women in the Jamaican music industry, such as songwriter, singer, DJ, producer, artist manager, tour manager, booking agent, publicist, and entertainment journalist, and noted that the outstanding careers of these women have been central to the development and expansion of Jamaica's greatest cultural export. This year's contest will also serve to honour women whose powerful roles in society as freedom fighter, cultural activist, and nurturer are documented in Jamaican music.

Co-conceptualiser of the competition, Greek graphic artist Maria Papaefstathiou, shared that when the International Reggae Poster Contest was launched in 2011 they had received more than 1,150 posters created by 678 designers from 80 countries. Ten years later the organisers have staged 27 worldwide exhibitions, and have gathered more than 8,500 posters from 85 countries.­

Interested parties can begin making submissions as of February 1. This will run until April 1, and the organisers note that no extensions will be given. The entries will be judged from July 15 - 31, with the announcement of winners on August 15. The top 100 posters will be selected by a jury panel of international design professionals.

Papaefstathiou shared with the Jamaica Observer that the current pandemic made it difficult for the IRPC to exhibit the winning posters. As a result there were only two exhibitions. These were held in the United Kingdom and Poland. She, however, noted that the work continues.

“Last year, in collaboration with VP Records, we organised Shadows After Dark, a limited edition poster contest to spread awareness on the human trafficking. It was launched in November 2020 to highlight the consequences of human trafficking and advocate for its prevention. The recruiting, transporting, transferring, receiving, and harbouring of a person by force, coercion, or other means for the purpose of exploitation are all gross violations of human rights. The Jamaica National Task Force Against Trafficking In Persons (NATFATIP) lent its support to this timely competition. That competition closed with 2,190 entries by 1,157 designers from 70 countries. Last weekend we had our first Shadows After Dark exhibition... we selected 42 posters to be part of the Carib Arts Fest in north Miami,” Papaefstathiou shared.

A Jamaica artist is yet to win the IRPC. In the first two years Jamaican artists fared reasonably well. In year one, Taj Francis placed fifth, with the eventual winner being Alon Braier from Israel. In year two, Rohan Mitchell copped fourth position to Balazs Pakodi of the United Kingdom who took the top spot.

Papaefstathiou believes that, over the years, locals have shied away from participating because of the lack of financial reward.

“Jamaica has amazing artists, and we can see that only by observing their fantastic murals. I believe they don't want to participate in something where they will not have any financial benefits. What they should understand, though, is that recognition and more benefits will come by showing the world their skills and not reserve themselves for their small community of Jamaica When Michael [Thompson, the late co-conceptualiser] asked me to collaborate in the IRPC I never thought of the hours it will take and the financial benefits. The same goes with the poster exhibitions I participate in. None of those have given me back any income. Nevertheless, today, many know my work and I get commissions by other countries than Greece. In fact, more people know my work in Jamaica, or other parts of the world, than in Greece. I get commissions from USA, UK, the Netherlands, Jamaica, etc. None of them would have known me if I hadn't participated in competitions and exhibitions.”

“Design is not only to get money, which of course is the main source of our living, but also a way to spread awareness of world issues that affect our lives and our communities. With the pandemic designers from all over the world rushed to do their own piece to urge people to stay inside, keep distances, protect themselves, and others, and many exhibitions were held internationally for these messages to be seen and heard more. I believe it is our duty to do so,” Papaefstathiou added.

Maria Papaefstathiou
BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

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