The Story Behind Lollapalooza’s Strongman/Dancing Hot Dogs Poster

Chicago designer Billy Baumann, one half of the printmaker duo Delicious Design League, talks about the inspiration for his festival poster

Lollapalooza 2012 poster by Delicious Design LeagueThere’s something about dancing hot dogs and a fat strongman that screams Lollapalooza. At least that’s the case for Billy Baumann, one half of Delicious Design League, the firm behind one of this year’s festival posters. After completing the initial order of 2,500 posters, the local printmaker got invoiced for another 1,200. Maybe Baumann was onto something all along.

The designer made his first concert poster in 2003, got serious about the venture in 2006, and quit his “corporate” day job in 2008. Since then, he and his business partner, Jason Teegarden-Downs, have designed everything from logos to websites for companies like Mozilla Firefox and Upton’s Naturals. Here, Baumann tells Chicago how his Lolla poster came about.

Where did the concept for this poster come from?
I’m not sure exactly where it came from, but it was probably all inspired by the idea of Chicago being the city of big shoulders. Also, one of [Lollapalooza’s] past graphic styles was sort of circus-y. I thought I could play with a style that could be recognizable to a Lollapalooza crowd.

But it’s not really a deep poster. It’s just a fun image with an incredibly rotund weightlifter from the turn of the century. The biggest hurdle with these posters is [all] these bands on there. The real trouble is, [incorporating] that much type into the design in some way. 

How did you go about creating the concept?
The concepts needed to be done by noon or so. I woke up that morning and sat at my kitchen table and just banged out three concepts in about three hours. I don’t think they were bad ideas, but it was a real scramble to get these things done. Typically, I’d like to take a whole day. This was a very truncated, three-hour concept.

What were you influenced by?
I was a little influenced by Chris Ware’s style, where shapes of the head and body are completely geometrical. I’m always inspired by Ware’s work, but in particular on this project. I could’ve made him more egg-shaped, but I really wanted to stick to the idea that his body is a perfect circle. I wanted to give myself those constraints.

And the dancing hot dogs?
We have a Chicago poster of a hot dog riding a bike. We’ve had that for a couple years now, and people love it. The Chicago hot dog is something everyone loves in Chicago. It’s something that everyone relates to.

This old-time strongman is in the same era as vaudeville, and in that era, they had the song-and-dance man, with the hat and cane. I thought it would be really funny to dress up a hot dog as a song-and-dance man in the same era that a strongman would be—and stick them both on the poster. It works stylistically with the poster and thematically with Chicago. It turned up the Chicago volume just a little bit more.

Do you have any plans to go to Lolla this weekend?
Honestly, I don’t really have an interest in going to this sort of stuff. I’m sort of agoraphobic—I’d much rather stay home and watch the Olympics.

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