Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Postcards to Jamaica: IRPC is a voice to the world

Published:Tuesday | May 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/ Gleaner Writer
The poster by grand-prize winner Vinicio Sejas of Bolivia.

There were no Jamaican entrants in last year's annual International Reggae Poster Competition (IRPC). All that changed this year with 20 Jamaican entrants, four of whom placed in the top 100 winners.

"We are very pleased with the number of posters we received from Jamaica this year. I wish to congratulate all 20 designers for participating and believing in our initiative. I feel happy and proud to see Jamaican designers being listed in both categories - professional and student," co-founder of the competition Maria Papaefstathiou told The Gleaner.

"I was concerned about the number of posters we were receiving each year, but I believe it was because of the Jamaican designers' lack of knowledge of the poster-design competitions globally."

This year's final-selection jury panellist Jason Panton has said that he was not concerned about the absence of Jamaican artists in the competition. "Don't dwell on the Jamaican entries. The posters are worldwide postcards back to Jamaica. It's showcasing how much reggae means to people across the globe."


Papaefstathiou echoed those sentiments. "The IRPC is not just a poster competition, it is a voice to the world of how big Jamaica and reggae is, and the youth of Jamaica should embrace this legacy and grow it more," she said.

The grand-prize winner, Vinicio Sejas from Bolivia, was of the same mind. "I remember when I was a child, I listened to the radio all the time. That's how I discovered the music of Bob Marley and of many national bands influenced by the rhythm and sound of Jamaica.

"It is a joy to feel the strong musical links that reggae, ska and dub have in Latin America, and especially in my country Bolivia. Listening to music during the design process is essential for me, and it is reggae that fills me with energy to work. Its rhythm reminds me of the heartbeat, and it is very relaxing, and the lyrics contain very powerful messages. I conclude that it is like a precious gift from Jamaica to the world," Sejas told The Gleaner.

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