WHY ARE CONCERT TICKETS SO BADLY DESIGNED?

A recent excellent blog by Graphic Design student Matthew Lew kickstarted my own thoughts on concert ticket design. Matthew’s blog deals with the overall bad design and irrelevant information on Ticketmaster’s ticket design and his ideas on how to produce a much cleaner and efficient design.

Since Matthew’s blog began attracting attention, Ticketmaster and Live Nation have been in touch with him so hopefully a new design is on it’s way.

I totally agree with Matthew that a new design is long overdue and I love his suggested artwork, but one thing I do miss is maybe somewhat more nostalgic, the tickets that were well designed and that you would keep as souvenirs.

I’ve been going to concerts and gigs since the late 80’s, sometimes 3 or 4 a week and back then, more often than not,  each gig ticket’s look was a unique souvenir of the show. This had a couple of effects, firstly there was an added excitement to opening an envelope and examining the tickets from your favourite bands, secondly the ticket became an important keepsake from the event (it was very upsetting if the door staff actually took the ticket from you on entry).

Chemical Brothers New York ticket stub 2007 Hammerstein Ballroom

Ticketmaster has used a variation on the above design for many years which prompted Matthew Lew’s blog, it’s a basic design that has the black text lasered on to a pre-printed colour ticket, this means that Ticketmaster can print millions of the base ticket very cheaply then just add the relevant concert info for very little cost.

Companies like SMJ experimented with printing a smaller amount of designed tickets for the hardcore fans who ordered immediately the event was announced, then releasing a second batch of the new standard variety. This had the effect of pushing up initial demand as the ‘true’ fans were desperate for the souvenir version of the ticket.

Another version has appeared, the print at home ticket, once bought the customer receives a PDF of their ticket, if anything a more boring version of the printed ticket although a cleaner design. This ticket invariably comes in an A4 PDF carrying advertising such as local hotel deals, parking discounts and reward promotions. It really would be so easy to have a section on these that could be cut out as a souvenir.

A4 PDF ticket example

A few of the small promoters used to produce nicely designed tickets such as SJM promotions and Harvey Goldsmith. SJM now use See Tickets to manage their concert tickets so we get large bland generic designs.

The four versions below from Harvey Goldsmith had black printed on to different coloured backgrounds which differentiated the relevant dates which shows that you can make clean informative tickets without breaking the budget.

The Cure Wish Tour Wembley Arena 1992

When tickets are produced in bulk for much larger events the cost of printing them is much lower which is why you do still see some nice designs occasionally such as the stubs below.

Concert Ticket stubs

What to do with your old tickets

Here are a couple of links to give you some ideas on what to do with your old ticket stubs.

Ticket Coaster

The Old Ticket Concert Project

Personally I’m going to buy a couple of very large frames and hang them on the wall.

Nick Page 21st January 2014

Ticket Stub Collection

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