Designing Immigrants

I'm pretty sure I have to make a poster announcing my defense talk on May 4. In spite of the fact that I've seen fliers for talks all over the department for the last seven years, I'm not entirely sure what to put on it. Here are the two options I cooked up in the last half hour.

First is a poster with a small centered graphic depicting Rome on the Peutinger Map. The idea is to evoke the concept of all roads leading to Rome (and thus immigrants flowing into Rome). This poster is relatively uncluttered - the title, author, date/place/time are clearly visible. I'm not sure the graphic translates very well to black-and-white or to being printed. (Click to enlarge - ignore the artifacts from doc-pdf-jpg conversion.)
Second is a poster with a full-page watermark-style graphic of a skeleton from one of the sites I studied. This poster actually looks quite striking when printed. I have it tacked up on the wall across the room, and at one glance, I can clearly see the skeleton. I might have to work on the dark blob in the upper left-hand corner, as I think it obscures the talk title a bit. But this is a poster that I would stop and read if passing in the hall. Then again, I stop and read anything with a skeleton on it, so I'm biased. (Click to enlarge - ignore the jpg artifacts.)
Opinions? Suggestions? Ideas?

Update #1 - Following a suggestion to make the graphic a sidebar (which is actually where it is on the cover slide of my talk)... I do always love a good watermark, but this version makes the text clearer. However, I'm worried that the skeleton image is less organic, like it's there just to titillate people.


Allen said…
What if you brought the photo out of watermark, shifted it slightly left or right (I'd have to see the complete pic to know which way is best) and then fit your text into the blank areas of the canvas with appropriate coloring instead of centering it top down in black?

I know...random comments from someone you've never heard of who's been reading your blog (very much enjoying each post) while wishing he had gone back to get his PhD in anthropology. You probably get this all the time. =0)
Allen - I do get that all the time. Trust me, grad school in anthropology is not as romantic as it seems from the outside. That said, I generally get at least one paid trip to Europe out of it every year. ;)

I mocked up another version of the poster, as I already have the skeleton in a sidebar on my slide. It's definitely more readable than the watermark... plus, now people know that I'm not just talking about foreigners and slaves but also about their skeletons!
Anonymous said…
The sidebar version is a bit more easily read, but the watermark version is more striking. The faded, grey appearance gives it an alluring mystique, in my opinion. I can only see what these look like on my screen, so if the text is legible enough, I would go with the more eye catching watermark version.

A little of topic, but what is the grey, possibly stone or cement cylinder protruding from the ground in the left of the skeleton picture?
The cylinder is ceramic, and it's a libation tube. The Romans sometimes put these tubes in graves so that they could be assured that their libations (e.g., wine, olive oil offerings) were getting to the deceased. What's really cool is that the excavators removed half the tube and discovered that the dead woman's hand was placed inside the tube. The hand bones were resting against the side!
John said…
I don't know what your resources are but I think a cropped version the the watermark image on the right hand side like the update would suit the bill. The softer more ragged edge in greyscale would tone down the hard edges of the linear right side image and make it more artistic than gratuitous
John said…
Again If you can manage it here is a quick and dirty mockup of what I was thinking (sans additional/duplicate lettering of course).

The overlapping lettering adds depth.
Anonymous said…
That is very interesting. Where these tubes used to make offerings simply to honor the dead or was it sustenance for them in the afterlife? Was this practice solely a practice of the Romans or did the Greeks bring it with the rest of their religion when they colonized the Italian peninsula?
Allen said…
Grad school is never as romantic as you remember it but a trip to Europe each year sounds nice. I have a good friend who is ready to go back for his PhD in English. His vision is scholarly discourse with colleagues late into the night and English courses filled with fully engaged students who are as passionate about literature as he is. Each time I respond that his previous graduate school experience must have been completely different from mine.

Since it was late after a long day at work yesterday, I realized I didn't do a great job of explaining my thoughts. I made a real quick mock up of what I thought might be good (of course again, completely random thoughts from a completely random person). It would probably pop a little better in color.
Thanks for all the suggestions and mock-ups! I ended up going with the last one - graphic as sidebar - because I couldn't get the watermark to look right when printed.

As for the libation tube... oil and wine were given to the dead on various holidays and birthdays. I don't know the history of the practice or the item; but mortuary practices tend to be fads. That is, they're memes and can become adopted in an area without the movement (colonization) of people. These tubes are found in the lower-class Roman cemeteries but not all that often, surprisingly.

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