For more than half a century, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman has been required reading in high school English classes. And as of February 12, a new Broadway production of the play directed by Mike Nichols has been receiving rave reviews with Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing the weary salesman, Willy Loman. As a tribute to the play’s iconic status, The New York Times asked students from Parsons The New School for Design to create original poster designs for the revival of this legendary work. Six standout student posters were chosen by Times editors and these images were featured in the Theatre section of the Times with statements from the students on their creative process and feedback from Steven Heller, the former art director of the Times, who currently writes the Visuals column for the publication. You can see the images created by Parsons students and read Steven Heller’s feedback here.
The posters were intended to provide a strong visual identity for the play without being too literal a translation of Miller’s work. For Erik Freer, a senior studying Communication Design, this meant finding inspiration in the current economic climate in the U.S., and this discussion of disillusionment that’s happening in the play and in this country., While other students such as Ashley Butler, a freshman focusing on Illustration, decided to represent the central character’s burden to find the American dream.
Were these posters effective in giving new life to a play that has such strong place in the American consciousness? Heller had the following to say about the design of Nick Vidovich, a senior in Communication Design: This is an accomplished execution and effective design. Conceptually, the metaphoric collage provides just the right amount of mysterious allure., Heller also praised Alina Petrichyn, a senior pursing a degree in Design Technology, saying that her design succeeds as a poster on various levels, . The viewer wants an answer, and that desire brings him or her one step closer to seeing the show.,