Michael Thompson, born in Kingston, Jamaica, he now lives in Easton, Pennsylvania, United States. He studied graphic design at The Jamaica School of Art, now the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Artsin Kingston. Also known by his Flickr profile FREESTYLEE: Artist Without Borders – http://www.flickr.com/photos/freestylee
Themes of the anti-apartheid movement and the struggles in Latin America were evident in his earlier designs, drawings and paintings (1970s – 80s). During that period, he won two successive poster competitions, which gave him the opportunity to participate, with the Jamaican delegation, in the 11th World Festival of Youth and Students in Havana, Cuba in 1978, and in Moscow in 1985. He describes his visit to Cuba as “an amazing experience and a tremendous opportunity.” There, he was introduced to the Cuban poster designs created by ICAIC, (Cuban Film Institute) OSPAAAL, (Organization for Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia, and Latin America), and Casa de Las Américas. Michael’s visit to Cuba, and his exposure to Cuban posters created by these organizations greatly inspired his poster design aesthetics.
Michael uses his art effectively with social media to stimulate awareness globally, and to spark conversation about many social and political issues. He uses poster art to express solidarity or protest issues that he feels passionate about: war, global poverty, racism, peace, justice, “One Love,” and the environment. He also designs posters celebrating and promoting his historical and cultural Jamaican heritage, such as Jamaica’s popular music, Reggae
Michael’s creative expressions are influenced strongly by Jamaica’s popular music and culture, primarily from the golden period of the 1960’s through 1980s. His Reggae poster project on Flickr is an effort to reawaken a sense of greatness and celebration of one of the world great music; the richness of this genre being a deep source of inspiration for his art. Over the years, he has designed numerous posters covering Ska, Rocksteady, Dub, Roots Reggae and Rocksteady captured with an exuberant and colorful style. Michael’s posters have drawn much international attention and have been exhibited in International exhibitions. His Reggae posters are now on tour in Europe with the Reggae Movement Exhibition.
This contest is dedicated to all the pioneers, great musicians and institutions that created this wonderful music.
Maria Papaefstathiou, from Athens, Greece was the first one who embraced the idea for an international Reggae Poster Contest and accepted to partner with Michael in creating the contest. Maria has been a practicing graphic designer since 1996. She graduated and received an award for poster design from the Faculty of Fine Arts and Design of the Technological Institute of Athens. A professional graphic designer who currently works as an Art Director at publishing house Stamoulis Publications S.A. Maria specializes in the field of coffee-table books, book-cover design. She is the curator and art representative of Freestylee (Michael Thompson) (www.freestylee.net). Maria is also the volunteer Executive Administrator for Green+You, a non profit organization that spreads awareness for a green mind through creativity, and the sustainable life of nature and human beings alike.
As a poster designer her posters have been selected and exhibited in several countries around the world, through the Green+You-Pray for Japan, Mandela Poster Project, Green+You-Pray for Africa, Intl. Reggae Poster Contest. Her poster on Education has been exhibited in Tehran.
Maria Papaefstathiou is also the creator of www.GRaphicART-news.com, a blog for graphic designers and photographers, focusing on high quality designs and art photography.
Maria and Michael firmly believe that Reggae music has the power to bring generations, nationalities and communities together. This international calibration drawing creative people from around the world to participate in the contest; an excellent example of the global “One Love” message that Bob Marley sung about.
“We believe that poster art and Reggae music is a perfect marriage to stimulate and inspire designers from around the world to create amazing art that will become iconic visual masterpieces for future generations to admire and to learn from. It is a wonderful way to show the global appreciation for the powerful music.”
Others who make significant contribution to the contest are:
Tania Dwyer, is a passionate Reggae and Jamaica lover from Australia. A great supporter of Alpha Boys’ School, “because they are up against the odds, those kids are given a second chance and purpose when they get to go there…and after learning about the history – how the music truly begin there at that little school,” says Tania. She also believes in the big vision of the International Reggae Poster Contest, she is a firm believer in the objective to establish a Reggae Hall of Fame on the island. “I always feel like shouting it to the world, especially to reggae lovers and music fans in general… this is where the different rhythms and so many music genres were born…and if the reggae fans out there truly want the music to stay alive and be remembered and respected then it would be worth their while to PAY ATTENTION and get involved with making it happen/support/contribute/spread the word…and to realise there really should be a Reggae Hall of Fame…before the memory of it all gets lost.”
Tania can truly see the potential of having such a Reggae Hall of Fame Museum established in Kingston. “It’s like it should already be there… it needs to be big and bold and stand proud as people fly into Kingston – somewhere that visitors could see when they come in via the sea…and it should be something that all the people of Jamaica can access and people from around the world…reggae unites like no other music…as it offer dares to give voice to harsh realities in life/the system.”
Tania is an Alpha and IRPC Ambassador in Australia… who voluntarily works as our Social-Online Administrator.
Susan Lee Quee, is a Digital Design Consultant and Lecturerin Visual Communications and Digital Design at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. She is member of both the EMC Rex Nettleford Conference 2011 and Jonkanoo Journal editorial and design committees. Born in the United Kingdom, Susan is passionate about creating memorable and engaging design and new media projects that focus and promote her Jamaican and Caribbean arts, culture, history and heritage roots. She studied at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston. She has created , graphic design, corporate identity programmes and publications for Jamaican and International companies. She is Creative Director of Lee Quee Creative – a design agency based in Kingston, Jamaica. Contact: http://www.
Audrey Headley, a talented graphic designer and photographer who lives in Jamaica. http://www.coroflot.com/aheadley
Kazuyuki Yoshimura, a Japanese graphic designer from Hamamatsu-shi, Shizuoka-ken.