Interview: Joseph Heuermann on Flyers of Iowa City, opening Friday at White Rabbit

Flyer by Anthony Manning -- via
Flyer by Anthony Manning — image via

Flyers of Iowa City

White Rabbit Gallery (112 S. Linn Street)
Opening Reception: July 10, 4:30 – 7 p.m.

Joseph Heuermann has been a particularly discerning set of ears and eyes for Iowa City’s new-music scene over the last five years. His own varied releases — from Goldendust to his current sci-fi-leaning spoken-word solo work under his own name — are easily into the teens. He is the booker, producer, curator of too many shows to recall tucked into basement and attic venues, Public Space One and the downstairs of Gabe’s. Heuerman knows the topography of Iowa City’s shifting musical landscape, and he’s been taking notes.

Through July, Heuerman will take over White Rabbit Gallery — with help from fellow show-dwellers Joe Milik and Ian McMillan — offering a curated look at flyers from their excellent Flyers of Iowa City tumblr archive. Beginning with an opening reception on July 10, you’ll have the chance to revisit some of the many mini-masterpieces you may have once seen stapled to a telephone pole.

Little Village: When did the collection begin?

Joseph Heuermann: My personal collection started when I moved here in 2010, maybe one or two from before, when I was driving from Des Moines to come to shows. We have also included other people’s collections such as Joe Milik and Ian McMillan and hopefully more in the near future that date back further.

Flyer by Joseph Heuermann -- image via
Flyer by Joseph Heuermann — via
Why use the reproductions rather than the originals?

There are some original digital versions, mostly for my own [work], but I prefer to post the actual flyers just as they are, pulled off of where they were stapled, or folded up handbills, because it is what the collection actually looks like. Sometimes flyers get ripped or folded and that’s just how it goes. I guess I want it to be as much of a direct document of what has been saved by myself or others as possible. Also because the original can differ drastically from the final product, after editing, when it’s printed up and around town.

What is the common aesthetic that draws you to these?

[In] most cases I know who made them, for the others that I just grab them because they catch my eye, it just has to stand out. So many flyers look the same, with a photo of the band and a font and it’s boring. Not that that cannot be done very well — and some like that have been saved. I guess I am drawn to hand drawn flyers over computer generated images, but I would say there is no common aesthetic.

Flyer by Jason Salek -- via
Flyer by Jason Salek — via
It’s really more about documentation, over aesthetic. I do not save everything, but I try and save everything that stands out and above the rest. The blog is about the love of the medium, I love flyers because it is public art, it’s art that anyone can tear down for free and put up on their wall at home, I could spend 20 hours on drawing a flyer and then it’s everywhere, all around town for anyone to see or have if they want. It is also a lot about the local music scene and offering my time to hopefully get some people to come out and see these amazing bands.

Is there much cause for the music to dictate the image, or the bands to inform the artwork?

When I’m making a flyer, the music never dictates the image. I’m only concerned with good design and interesting/eye-catching imagery. First and foremost, you have to get someone to notice the flyer. Then they might stop and actually see what it’s all about, maybe look up the bands, and maybe come to the show.

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What is the criteria of a flyer that catches your attention?

Good design and composition, hand-drawn images and especially hand-drawn fonts.

What was the first flyer — not show — that you can remember?

Well, I have been collecting flyers since high school in Des Moines, and Nate from Black Market Fetus has made an insane amount of sick flyers that I have quite a few of, but as far as Iowa City and the blog and show pertains to … maybe a Shawn Reed screen-printed flyer for a show at the cave of spirits. Maybe the first one I got was from Ryan Garbes for the Tanks, Narwhalz, Sewn Leather and DJ Dog Dick show at his house. Maybe the Garbes flyer for the Aids Wolf, US Girls, Talk Normal, Wet Hair show at PS1 — I’m not sure which came first.

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