Staff Spotlight: Erin Banks
Next up in the Staff Spotlight blog series is the Gibbes Creative Director, Erin Banks!
Name: Erin Banks
Title: Creative Director
How long have you been at the Gibbes?
Four and a half years! This is actually my third official blog entry for the Gibbes. I wrote my first blog as a newcomer to the Gibbes family in 2013 (“My Charleston Story, as told by the In-House Graphic Designer“). A few years later I had the opportunity to create all new museum signage and collateral following an 18-month renovation, which I wrote about in another blog entitled “Zen and the Art of Museum Signage.”
Describe your role here at the Museum in a few sentences.
I have the dream job of Creative Director. My primary role is handling all graphic design for the Gibbes, including exhibition signage (wall labels!), brochures, annual reports, advertisements, exhibition catalogs, and museum signage. I also create and send e-blasts, which gives me the opportunity to channel my creative energy into words as well as visuals.
What brought you to the Gibbes? Tell us about how you ended up here!
I grew up in New York but migrated South in 2000 for graduate school (then extended my stay after marrying a Southerner!). Prior to my role at the Gibbes, I worked for ten years at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) as the director of scholarships and recruitment. I became a fan of the Gibbes Museum of Art during my years at SCAD, so it was kismet that I joined the Gibbes team after moving to Charleston. It was the perfect fit, giving me the opportunity to use my art degrees (B.A. in graphic design and M.F.A. in illustration) in a beautiful museum setting.
What is your favorite work in the collection and why?
Corene by renowned local artist Jonathan Green! I love the colors and symbolism of this oil painting, themes that were echoed in Green’s costumes and set design for the 2016 Spoleto Festival production of Porgy and Bess. The depiction of Gullah culture in his artwork is incredibly significant to the history of Charleston, which makes it an important piece in the Gibbes collection. I’ve incorporated Corene into several marketing pieces over the years, including a billboard design celebrating the Gibbes reopening in 2016.
Tell us about an interesting project you’ve worked on.
My all-time favorite project was creating a large-scale poster for the Gibbes exhibition entitled, “Beyond Catfish Row: The Art of Porgy and Bess.” Curator Pam Wall envisioned a 6×9 foot playbill-inspired vinyl poster that would act as an introduction to the 2016 reopening exhibition. So it gave me an excuse to immerse myself in old Porgy and Bess collateral and listen to George Gershwin’s opera for inspiration. I love the large format of the final poster illustration. And it was a particularly victorious piece since it marked the new reopening of the Gibbes (and the end of an intense period of creating signage for the newly renovated museum). This project is one of many opportunities that I’ve had to incorporate illustration into my design work for the Gibbes, which is a bonus since I also freelance as a children’s book illustrator.
Besides the Gibbes, where do you take friends and family for the quintessential Charleston/Lowcountry experience?
Waterfront Park is our favorite lingering spot, so we always start our Charleston experience at the Pineapple Fountain. And a drive to Magnolia Plantation is a must—the gardens are so beautiful that we actually named one of our daughters “Magnolia.” My co-illustrator husband Timothy Banks recently wrote and illustrated a book called “Monsters in Charleston” (available at the Gibbes Museum Store!) which highlights many of our other favorite haunts in the Holy City. And of course, no trip to Charleston is complete without a visit to the Gibbes Museum!
Erin’s husband, Timothy Banks, recently illustrated “Monsters in Charleston” which can be found in the Museum store and showcases many of their family’s favorite parts of Charleston.
January 19, 2018
Top Image: Erin shows off the new Museum signage mock-up that she designed prior to the 2016 re-opening.