The Jamaican graphic designer and illustrator Taj Francis placed fifth in the International Reggae Poster Contest, of which the best 100 entries can currently be seen at the NGJ. His poster is a tribute to “The Upsetter” – Lee Scratch Perry. The design not only captures this seminal Jamaican musician’s eccentric appearance but also visualizes Scratch’s dub philosophy, as related to Doug Wendt in an interview from the mid 1990s:
“Everyone who started dub music must have heart. Your heart goes boop boop, boop-boop; that’s the beat of the drum. A brain goes tick-tick, tick tick; that’s the bass. Your brain is your bass and your heart is your drum. So make sure your heart is not corrupted because what you send out comes back to your heart. If you send out a good heartwave it’ll come back with a dub you see flying in a cloud of good news. So you start from a good heart and a clean brain – drum and bass. You can have guitarists and pianists around, if they are not confusing, but I prefer drum and bass”
Taj is a recent graduate of the Edna Manley College’s School of Visual Art, with a major in Illustration and has been doing art for as long as he can remember. The media used for his artworks are the usual pen and ink, brush and ink, spray paint, and digital illustration and painting and he thus combines traditional and new media. Taj has a unique graphic style which relies on elaborate, psychedelic patterns, contrasting textures, 3-D effects offset against 2-D backgrounds, and bold splashes of colour – it can be described as “contemporary baroque” and resonates with Jamaican and global pop culture. His artwork is inspired by music, a strong social conscience, and a passion for what he does. Much of his current free-lance work is for the music industry and he is also working on a clothing line where he does custom artwork on sneakers.
The World-A-Reggae exhibition continues until November 10.
Read more about Taj Francis at:
Joshua Wilkie, Lee “Scratch” Perry, April 1998