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I've talked before about how much I love the amazing visuals of BioShock and the successive games in the franchise. One of the most important aspects, both visually and narratively, were the advertisements seen around the city. The talented artists who worked on the game conducted so much research in order to recreate the aesthetics of the mid-20th century. While their original work is superb, one can't overlook the interesting matter of the "recycled" images.
It's been uncovered that many of the advertisement images were repurposed pictures, mostly from intricate fruit crate labels, made in the 1900s. We've all done our part to track down the original images to show how they were modified to create something new and useful to the BioShock series while still maintaining the quality and detail that went into so much of the 20th century's art.
I applaud this work, and in the same mindset have made the following images myself. This is all purely speculative fanart. I welcome comments and criticism, but also hope others will share links to similar fruit crate labels that look cool or interesting and might make great advertisements or promotional images.
Of course I so enjoyed the use of licensed songs echoing throughout the corridors of Rapture, but in retrospect it is a little strange that we only heard music from "surface" musicians. Ok, maybe it's not too surprising. With time and resource restraints, it's much easier to license a song that it is to compose and record a new one that might easily go unnoticed. Additionally, we still rock out to decades old 80s songs today.
Still, what impresses me most about Rapture, the idea, is that it was a city in the 1950s where your background or country of origin didn't matter. All that was important was your talent. With this image, an album cover for a record that might be sold in Rapture Records, I crafted the persona of a singer of Hungarian extraction. For most immigrants coming to America in the 20th century, unless you were of Anglo-Saxon origin, you were seen as an undesirable. Performers would often adopt a stage name or recraft their image entirely to seem more appealing to a larger audience. In Rapture this was not the case. This chanteuse not only owns her sexuality but also her identity.
While ethnic Whites might have had a difficult time, nothing compared to the historic struggle of African Americans. Now obviously there were a huge number of successful Black singers during this time especially in the genres of Jazz and Big Band music. However, in the early days of Rock & Roll, some producers would pay for the music and songs of African American singers and pass them on to White bands who had a more "appealing" image they could sell to middle America.
I wanted to show a successful Black Rapturian singer in the genre of Rockabilly/Rock & Roll music that would've been reaching the city just before the Rapture Civil War ruined everything. The surprising challenge was finding a source image that didn't cater to the stereotypes and prejudicial perceptions of the period. This one required some major photoshopping, but I'm mostly happy with the final result.
One of the few original pieces of music we did hear in BioShock was Cohen's Scherzo from Why Even Ask?. But why settle for Rapture's most paranoid composer when we could hear the debut album of his most ardent rival? I had hoped to create an poster for Anna Culpepper, and when I found the right source image, I knew I had it.
It's one thing to call someone out for their music, but if your not in the industry or don't have a song of your own out, then what good are your gripes? We had seen the poster for her most scathing album Ryan's Songbird, but now we can see how Culpepper became the successful singer with an apartment in Mercury Suites.
Sometimes the most important consideration for this project was how easily an image could be repurposed for my needs. The very basic, minimalist nature of this particular fruit crate label along with the blocky lettering made for a quick and easy album cover. The simple design also resembles some of the albums seen in Rapture Records.
Additionally, something I noticed when making my Character Tracker is high number of characters with "S," "W," or "R" names. I intentionally came up with characters with different, less common letters. Thus the "V," "N," "L," and "P" names present here.
Another consideration I had when thinking about this project is where would these artists perform?
The Footlight Theater strikes me as an interesting venue. We never did see behind that curtain on the stage, so we can't say just how much floor space there was to put on a performance. What we did see is that long, narrow area jutting out from the main stage. What sort of entertainment might use a stage like that. Clearly some of Sander Cohen's shows played at the Footlight, though I have to think they were rather minimalist considering the size of the playhouse, but what else? Maybe a fashion show, probably a lounge singer, or better yet, a comedian.
This poster allowed me to explain the performer's job while also highlighting his specific type of comedy.
Admittedly, there's nothing more iconic than the Masquerade Ball 1959 poster, but when I found the components for this image, I decided to make an advertisement for the Kashmir Restaurant's New Years Eve party. The hardest part was rotating the letters around the circle. With some very minor alterations I could see this as a poster for a local school or university dance as well.