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Jamaicans on jury panel for International Reggae Poster Competition

Published:Thursday | April 12, 2018 | 4:39 PMKimberley Small
Jason Panton

Last week, the International Reggae Poster Competition (IRPC) closed submissions for this year's competition. For the sixth year, artists and graphic designers across the world produced images paying respect to all of Jamaica's indigenous music forms.

Though the title of the competition says 'reggae', it is treated as an umbrella term to include all our indigenous music forms — ska, rock steady, roots reggae, dub, dance hall, and even the phenom of the sound-system.

Over the next few weeks, 11 members of a 24-person jury panel will deliberate over the submissions in pre selection. The remaining 13 jurists will then determine the sixth winner of the International Reggae Poster Competition. The jurists are from all over the world: the United States; United Kingdom; Mexico; Canada; Cuba; Venezuela; Japan; Bolivia; Greece; Ghana; Poland;  Italy; China and Jamaica.

There are two Jamaicans serving on the panel — Susan Lee Quee, and Jason Panton. Lee is a digital design consultant and lecturer in Visual Communications and Digital Design at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, as well as the creative director of Lee Quee Creative, a design agency based in Kingston. 

Panton who is on the final selection jury panel, is a graphic and clothing designer. Carolyn Cooper is an adviser and board member of the organisation behind the competition.

Panton has worked with companies such as Def Jam Records; VP Records; Tuff Gong International; We Are Massiv; and Puma’s 2012 Olympic collection with Cedella Marley. He also co-created a global reggae event called Dubwise Jamaica, that takes place weekly in Miami, and monthly in various cities across North America, Canada, Africa and the Caribbean. The graphic artist is has residency at the Edna Manley School of Visual Arts, via Diaspora Vibe Gallery. 

Panton strongly believes that its time Jamaica has a local reggae poster competition. "It would be nice if we did more work with the youth. In terms of visual art, there should be a lot more done at the tertiary and secondary school level, to get students used to using quality material, and learning visual fundamentals. In Jamaica everything's based off raw talent. When children go to Edna, we’re harnessing what God gave them," he said. 

Designed to celebrate positive international reggae culture, IRPC highlights the globalisation of reggae. The competition was founded in 2011 by Jamaican graphic designer Michael Thompson (1958-2016) and  Maria Papaefstathiou, another graphic designer from Athens, Greece. Papaefstathiou has carried on the mandate since Thompson's passing 2016.

Another important objective of the IRPC is to help raise awareness of the Alpha Boys’ School, the institution responsible for the musical grooming of local legends like Don Drummond of the Skatalites, Desmond Dekker and witty dance hall lyricist King Yellowman.