The Visual Artist
Lindsay Windham colorfully connects to the scene with posters, album artwork, and a variety of projects
If you're into local music at all, you've seen Lindsay Windham around town. Or, at least, you've seen the work of her self-taught graphic designer alter-ego Olive*Argyle. Whether on gig posters up in King Street storefronts or in your friends' CD collections, Windham's art is a constant presence in the local music scene.
Those screen-printed Cabaret Kiki posters that sold like hotcakes this past spring? She made them. That old Jump, Little Children poster from their last Dock Street Theatre show that's still up on your bedroom wall, having survived annual moves? You can thank her for that. The cover of Slowrunner's recent album Mermaids? Yep, that was her too.
Windham also provided the cover art for this year's Music Issue.
She seems to have worked with just about everyone making original music in the downtown scene. Her portfolio includes notable work with the New Music Collective, Cary Ann Hearst, Bill Carson, and Leah Suarez.
Most important to Windham's success is the fact that she is a music fan first. "I love the work that these musicians do that I work for. It's so inspirational to me," she says.
For her, the true thrill of doing graphic design for musicians is simply in helping support them, whether it is getting people to come out to the shows or spend money at the merch table. To that end, she keeps her work affordable and often works for trade, whether it's for fresh baked bread or a favorite pair of well-worn jeans.
Her enthusiasm for music culture in Charleston inspired her first poster while she was a biology student at the College of Charleston in the late '90s. Impressively, she went so far as to make a poster for a non-local band that didn't know it was being promoted. "I was really excited about [now critically-acclaimed Chicago musician] Andrew Bird being in town, and I felt like nobody knew who he was," she remembers. "I had to promote the show! So I made a flyer in Microsoft Word and put it up around town."
After that first humble attempt, Windham began making posters for her musician friends, including Bill Carson, Bud Collins, and Jump, Little Children. She also found a mentor in John Pundt, an esteemed designer who screen-printed some of her early work.
It didn't take long for word to get around about her creative talents, but early on her graphic design remained a hobby. "I never did poster stuff as a career. I never thought of it like that," she says. "It was always just freelance fun for friends."
Each of Windham's posters is eye-catching in its own way. "I want to design the poster that is in the window that you see from across the street and go, 'What's that,'" she says.
She has the ability to act as the medium between musicians and their prospective audiences, visually interpreting and communicating the sound and "feel" of the band's music.
"I think Cary Ann has a feel to her," she says. "A Decent Animal definitely had an aesthetic, and I think it was on point with their sound. If somebody had never heard A Decent Animal, and they saw a poster, they're attracted to it because it just looks like the kind of thing that sounds like that. I think it's really helpful to have those visual cues. It drives me nuts when an album doesn't sound anything like what it looks like.
"There are tons of music in small scenes and different scenes going on," she adds. "I'm excited to see what other people are doing for their posters."
So, the next time you're wondering what's going on around town, take a walk down King Street and look for Windham. Her posters will be in storefront windows promoting bands and making the world just a bit easier on the eyes. —John Edward Royall