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Poster Backstory: Allan Peters — Minneapolis 2014

Written by in Profiles

Allan Peters’ St. Paul Bike Gang Badges

A creative director at Target, Allan Peters has made a name for himself designing everything from signage to motion and products for the retail giant, with a signature colorful, minimalist/pop art-inspired flair. When he’s not at work, the creative juices don’t stop flowing. In fact, Peters has produced a completely distinct, second body of design work off the clock.

ARTCRANK® and Neenah Paper

ARTCRANK® is a poster show about bicycles. Since 2007, ARTCRANK has staged more than 50 pop-up art shows featuring handmade, bike-inspired posters created by local artists and graphic designers in the U.S., the U.K. and France.

A longtime sponsor of ARTCRANK, Neenah Paper is teaming up with the show to highlight the work of four poster artists in 10 U.S. cities throughout 2014: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.

Each Poster Backstory feature follows the artist’s creative process as they develop their ideas and print them on a Neenah Paper stock, using craft techniques such as silkscreen and letterpress. Behind-the-scenes poster stories will appear on the ARTCRANK site and here on Against The Grain.

He’s one of those people who just can’t turn it off when it comes to design. Constantly on the lookout for vintage American designs that catch his attention, Peters channels the inspiration into badge-centric personal design work. The documented search, “The Badge Hunt”, on his design blog, has become required reading for designers around the world.


Peters’ passion for badges shines through both in his constant pursuit of vintage design and the art that he creates on his own. His poster for this year’s Minneapolis ARTCRANK show is a prime example.“I look for trends that have been lost over time, says Peters. “Type styles or color palettes… I love helping that stuff find its way back. I’ll use a few components from something I come across as a starting point and evolve it from there.”

The design, entitled “St. Paul Bike Gangs” came as the accomplice to his 2012 effort, “Minneapolis Bike Gangs.” And the individual bike gang badges aren’t just nifty designs. “Each badge represents a memory I have of that area of St. Paul,” he says. “It’s a way of telling a bunch of stories in one shot.”


Peters jokes that he “just keeps getting contacted by different bicycle gangs to create badges and logos for them. As soon as I do a logo for one gang, the rival gang wants one, too. Apparently these gangs care as much about design as they do about racing.” Never one to pass up feedback, Peters came up with three color palettes that he thought would work well for the design, posted them on Twitter, and took votes from his followers on the final poster.


As soon as he locked in on a color palette, Peters worked with local Neenah rep Kim Shannon to choose the perfect paper for the job. “I love to find paper that amplifies my idea,” he says “With posters that are printed with only one or two colors, paper plays a huge role. It can be your third color or a neutral backdrop to overprint on top of. For my ARTCRANK poster, I went with ENVIRONMENT® Cover NATURAL. I wanted the poster to feel classic and warm, and the cream colored stock warmed up the ink hues. I also try to print on recycled paper when possible because I love the Earth.”


The poster was printed locally at renowned print shop Steady Print Co., which is run by another ARTCRANK vet by the name of Erik Hamline. “I use a handful of Neenah stocks regularly and have no issues with quality, availability or printability,” says Hamline. “The Environment stock used for Allan’s piece worked out well and I couldn’t be happier with the ink laydown, sheet durability and color.”