BY RICHARD JOHNSON—
With just three weeks to go before the close of the call for entries for the International Reggae Poster Contest, the organizers are disappointed that to date they have received no entries from Jamaica.
This year marks the fifth staging of the contest conceptualised by Jamaican-born graphic artist Michael “Freestylee” Thompson, who died last year, and his Greek business partner Maria Papaefstathiou, which aims to highlight the international reach and scope of reggae music through the creation of these posters.
“I am very disappointed with the lack of posters from Jamaica. I hope until the last minute there will be some submissions. Actually, I will take the opportunity of this article, and I will urge them to participate. This contest is about their country and their music. It’s a shame to see posters from all over the world and not from reggae’s own land,” Papaefstathiou told the Jamaica Observer.
She noted that already entries have come in from all over the world.
“I wouldn’t like to give you yet any number of the posters received since this number changes every day, but I would love to mention some of the countries. I am very happy and proud that Greek designers have responded once more to the call with some amazing designs. Other than that, amazing posters are coming from Argentina, India, Brazil, Taiwan, Chile, Australia, Colombia, Guyana, Ecuador, Romania, Turkey, Russia, China, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Iran, Indonesia, Italy, Czech Republic, Venezuela, Ukraine, Ghana, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Israel, Croatia, Bermuda, Hungary, United States, France, Mexico, Hungary, UK, to name a few.”
Papaefstathiou noted that a number of special elements will be added to this year’s contest in memory of Thompson, who died at home in Pennsylvania in the United States of a heart attack in August of last year.
“This year the top 100 posters will be exhibited in Liverpool, UK, as part of the Positive Vibration Festival of Reggae 2017 to be held in June. The exhibition will feature posters for the contest, but also some of Michael Thompson’s aka Freestylee posters, commemorating his work. Another exhibition we are planning is in Cyprus, which will feature only Michael’s works, particularly his collection Freestylee Roots — first displayed in Mexico in 2016. The exhibition will take place as part of the Graphic Stories Cyprus events. I would love to exhibit the posters in Jamaica but nothing has been planned as yet,” she noted.
No Jamaican has ever won the contest. In the first two years Jamaican artists fared reasonably well. In year one (2012), 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. Since then, Jamaican artists have failed to fall within the top 100 entries to the competition.