The Big Catch Fish 'n Chips Posters

November 23, 2008 by  

The Big Catch Fish and Chips from Newmarket Ontario are gearing up for their Grand Opening and once again Digital Deceptions has been fortunate enough to be commissioned to do some unique creative artwork. I visited the Fish n Chips Restaurant a couple of weeks ago to consult with the Big “C” listening to their needs, vision and seeing what they had to work with.

From my experience client’s either know exactly what they want period which is usually much better than them not having a clue as to what they really want or need but I find as a designer when you make suggestions that sometimes the client feels like it is an up sell so it is important that you back up your advice with why it is better to go in that direction and share some of your past experiences.

First I Created The Logo

The Big Catch on the other hand were very upfront and after they had told me their concept and requirements they wanted to hear my opinion and how I thought it would be best communicated which we had a lengthy conversation about and put a game plan into action starting with their logo.

The second phase of the project was to design ten 30” x 40” wall posters that are to be installed throughout the restaurant adding to the visual fish, maritime theme but also containing relevant content that can teach, distract and get patrons talking while they wait for their food.

How cool is that? I can remember back when I was a kid I would get mesmerized by things like that in restaurants and now these days that sort of thing has been lost in chains and franchises.

So because of our conversation I now not only know exactly what the Big Catch wants to be but I also know how to get there by using my past experiences going to restaurants with my family and pushing those same buttons that instilled the same feelings as when I was a child.

Ten Posters About Fish, Fishing And The Sea?

Here are the ten posters that were finalized, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did designing and researching them.

I began the poster design with the background and I thought because of the restaurants interior colours (red and blue) that it should be light, more specifically neutral and playing on the whole maritime theme the obvious choice was sand. These web graphics don’t do the detail any justice so just take my word for it when I tell you that the background looks like sand and has multiple gritty colour levels in it and you know right away what it is.

The first two posters are of record freshwater fish catches from all over the world and I will have to admit that the information is not 100% accurate not only because I found conflicting information during my research but I was instructed to add a couple of specific names to the list for a little fun.

Fish Poster Three Was Tough

The first two were simple in comparison to the third where I started to experiment a little and actually proved to be one of the most difficult by far. The concept came to me from my last trip to Northern Ireland, I was in what we call a “Fish Shap” which coincidentally sells fish and on the wall I saw a large illustration of how to butcher fish, where to cut and what some of the parts were called so after much research, scanning and a lot of patients in Illustrator I came up with what you see on the left.

The difficulty was being able to replicate the same idea without it coming off gory as I’m sure people aren’t going to appreciate looking at fish guts as they eat all the while keeping it dressed up like the previous couple of designs.

Bad Luck And Fishing

I was unaware of how superstitious many cultures were about fishing and I think that this derives from the fact that it is one of the oldest activities that we as humans still do to this day and no matter how sophisticated a culture is or was that fishing was responsible for their survival or downfall.

These cultures believed that the little things they did in life either affect their luck or did not appease there gods and over the last couple of thousand years these belief systems have modernized into superstitions, some of which I have heard myself at one time or another so to ward off any bad luck on the fourth poster I have added a fishing poster about superstition.

Victorian Fishermen?

I came across some Victorian fishermen post cards in an old Irish book I’ve had for years and these old cards had so much character that they had to be used, they were from the days when people posed laying down because it took ten minutes to take the photo, lay down and say cheese…lol.

Since this was the “Fisher man” poster I thought it would be a good idea to show how to tie a few fishing knots. I actually use to fish with my dad quite a bit growing and up and still remember how to tie the clinch knot that he taught me and ever since I learnt my first knot and have come across any kind of knot diagram (which has been quite a few times unexpectedly) I get mesmerized just like when I was a kid so I knew I was on the right track for the Big Catch poster number five.

Guinness, Pier 39, Donaghadee And Me

While I was doing my research I also found that a big part of maritime culture was tragedy which of course has a time and place to be remembered but a restaurant is neither the time nor place. From many of these tragedies came the lighthouse, the technological answer to aid a ship in troubled waters or bad weather.

Again taking a little bit from one of my many trips to Northern Ireland which wouldn’t be complete without a couple of hours out to Donaghadee (Dawn-a-ga-dee) to see the lighthouse, I know how important it was in its day before satellites and GPS but just think for a moment the relief and safety that some of these seafaring men felt when they saw the lighthouse, something that most of us don’t think about today the odd time we get the chance to see one.

So I wanted to do the old lighthouse some justice and bring back some of its charm and urgency by sharing a little history and also pointing out some of the different styles that there are in the sixth poster. Like most people I’ve never actually been inside a light house so the next best thing would be to have some sort of building plans or diagrams that would give you a better idea as to what they contain beside steps and ladders. The look of this poster was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man drawing and I think that it was successfully pulled it off.

The Great Fish And Chips

The owner of the Big Catch is quite knowledgeable and utterly obsessed with sharks so it was a no brainer to incorporate a shark poster into the project but since he knew all about them I didn’t want to just have a bunch of shark information that he already knew in his poster so what was I to do?

I searched high and low and came up with an old long dead science magazine which had an article from the sixties written in retro fashion sounding very dated and it fit right into the theme naturally and giving customers an interesting look into how sharks were thought of forty plus years ago.

The hardest part after finding this article was finding a suitable photo of a shark jaw at 300dpi, I ended up cutting one in half, manipulating it and then duplicating it and flipping it over to make it look whole again.

The History Of Fish N Chips?

History of Fish and Chips

Poster number eight made for interesting research because this was the poster devoted to the history of Fish and Chips yes I said it. Everything has a beginning and an end and at some point little bits of information get documented either by art, memoires, newspapers, poetry or stories and then a couple of hundred years later somebody comes along and puts it all together to paint a picture.

Being a British born Ulsterman I have been pretty much raised on fish ‘n chips and have the trained palette of a connoisseur, everywhere we have lived we have tried out all the chippies in the neighbourhood then choosing which was our local and we critique each and every meal but I never had a clue how it all began. That’s culture for you.

Without going into much detail about the whole story which was quite boring and not nearly as much fun as researching it was I decided to look at the major players instead and see if I could find any images of them which I did with a little help from some old encyclopedias. I’m a firm believer that people need a face to put a story to and since this story wasn’t very interesting I concentrated on the imagery.

I Love My Technology

Technology has always intrigued me and I chose to do make poster nine about the sextant, I remember getting frowned at in class for giggling when the teacher said sextant one day…lol. This is an ingenious device that helped man navigate the globe almost three hundred years ago utilizing the devils tools, math and physics.

As a Christian you would have been torn between your faith by utilizing this tool since the church taught that the world was flat and science didn’t exist, they were suspicious of the unknown and couldn’t comprehend the knowledge that went into this tool of navigation.

You have to remember that this was 250 years into the Spanish inquisition so the sextant was seen as a threat by the church and was punishable by death for using one so only very brave men of solid conviction would dare own one. Believe it or not they are still used to this very day although it is not that method of choice.

H.O.M.E.S. = Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior

The final poster was the easiest one to do, I tend to always begin with the hard work first. One of my first thoughts on this project was to have a map of the Great Lakes, living in Ajax Ontario in the Regional Municipality of Durham I am absolutely surrounded by the Great Lakes and have been living ten minutes from Lake Ontario for almost twenty years.

I know that Canadians are very proud of their natural water source and growing up you learn about them at different grades in school so they are a huge part of our lives and they just had to be part of the project.

Like with the shark poster I didn’t want to just have statistics or numbers I wanted to show people the Great Lakes from a perspective they rarely seen if at all so what I decided to do was to have a very old map of the lakes as well as a modern version side by side which creates an interesting effect and hopefully conversation in the coming weeks.

Yeah another long post I know but a lot of thought and hard work went into this project and again I have to thank the Big Catch Fish ‘n Chip Restaurant for trusting me and allowing me to have the amount of creative freedom that I had, it was a pleasure working on and I can’t wait to move on to the next phase of the project.


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