Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fly Derby Fliers

Advertisement and marketing are important with any product.  Derby is really no different, especially if your league aims to be an active and competitive sports league.  Yet another rad thing about roller derby is the production aspect of the sport, which in turn allows for some serious creativity in the public relations department.  Give your bout a theme, and you give it life.  Flier art in roller derby is arguably some of the most interesting marketing in the sporting world.
Here are two vintage roller derby fliers:

Check out some of the artwork from these derby leagues:
1.  Atlanta Roller Girls:

This may be one of my favorite derby bout fliers I have seen to date.  Apart from the apparent awesomeness of a big booty (of which GSORD is especially appreciative as owners and lovers), this flier is eye catching and therefore serves its number one purpose:  advertisement.  You cannot miss this flier.  It's not just the butt of the skater, but the decision that the artist made to create a single image to fill the composition and extend beyond the frame created on the poster.  It isn't cluttered, and I like that.  Also, I like that this illustration goes against a very typical image of the tattooed, svelte, white and blonde derby skater. 

2.  Cape Fear Roller Girls:

I love this flier. The artist chose a visual theme to match their bout title "Derby is Victory", and came up with a kickass composition and allusion that works really well with the fierceness and camaraderie of derby.  I like that pretty much only 3 colors (and shades) were used, as it allows an active picture to be busy without being too confusing or heavy (of course, the colors are thematic as well).  The artist also does not neglect the details and effects that can be achieved through lettering.

3., 4., and 5.  The Naptown Roller Girls:
The next 3 fliers are from Naptown.   I have found that, as a league, I really appreciate their bout posters.  Their artist(s) work really well within a theme, and therefore create interesting and professional posters. The "War of the Wheels", "Scar Wars", and "Beat My Valentine" posters are some of my favorites. 

They follow a very similar format, which some people may dislike, but I'm ok with that because they are executed so well. 

 The "Beat My Valentine" is my favorite of the three.  I love the use of space and the juxtaposition of the "girly" colors with the proclivity for rough housing (to say the least). 

6. and 7.  Philly Roller Girls

I like the movement that is created in #6 (the orange/yellow) with the slope of the track and the slant of the wording.  I also really like the varying shades of one color as being the predominant tone of the composition.  Even though I dislike that the general aesthetic of a derby dame is often geared to one type of woman, what I do appreciate about this skater is the boldness of her face and hair.  This figure embodies a general badass attitude that derby women feel and exude, though it may not show in every woman through tattoos and "edgy" haircuts.  The great thing about derby is all types of skaters are valued. 

The flier with the soldier (#7) is awesome because it utilizes their city's heritage, but with a derby spin.

8.  River City Roller Girls

I think that most of the Gate City Roller Girls and other supporting league members would agree that so far in our league's history the River City Roller Girls have given us one of the best away matches and after party thus far.  That's just a shoutout for good league sportsmanship and hospitality.  It makes sense that those sassy and creative women would advertise with great posters.  One reason I like this flier is that the artist does not feel the need to incorporate a female figure.  I love the female body, but I think it's pretty cool that an interesting poster has been made without using a human form.  I also think this poster is pretty classy, while still holding onto the attraction to gore that is ingrained in the performance aspect of the sport.  There's a minimalist appeal in this poster. 

9.  Greensboro Roller Derby

I have to applaud one of Greensboro's own artists for creating one of my favorite GSORD fliers to date.  Jordan Grace Owens created a very simple, classy, and elegant flier.  Without knowing too much about the teams, she managed to capture the aesthetic of the Battleground Betties and the Mad Dollies in her artwork.  She worked with only two colors, and the result had a very vintage feel to me.  

10.  Charm City Roller Girls

In this flier Charm City (a lovely team we got to know while at the aforementioned River City bout) plays the Carolina Bootleggers, a team close to our hearts.  This flier is pretty awesome because it goes for a pretty standard comic book theme with the illustration, and it is executed really well.  It reminds me of the vintage derby posters (posted above). 

Please comment with links to some of your favorite fliers!

Derby love!
--Ann What?!  #36 Chambers


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. One of the things I LOVE about derby is its ability to transcend tired or hurtful stereotypes. A lot of these flyers rock, but I'm really disappointed by flyer #1. It isn't unique.

    It uses a woman of color's body to market a product, in this case derby. The text on the flyer could be for anything, and this flyer would still fit into a racist/sexist tired-ass trope. (Pardon the pun.)

    I get that derby fliers are supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, however, this image misses its mark and viewers are left with the same b.s. that promotes the Hottentot Venus ideal of women of color, particularly black women.

    Another thing to consider is *who* this is being marketed toward. I'd love to sit here and say that this image is of sexual empowerment, but at the end of the day we live in a society dominated by images like this that are meant to tantalize heterosexual men, and limit the kind of sexuality women are entitled to.

    I love derby flyers that show women of all kinds in action, kicking ass and taking names, but #1 is doing none of that.

  3. You are judging the first flyer out of context.

    It was designed by a famous pin-up artist and tattoo artist named Tyson, who is known worldwide for this style.

    In addition, this poster does NOT feature a woman of color. The skater portrayed in this poster (Which is from 2005) is actually a very tall Caucasian girl named "Big Red" who had extremely curly auburn hair.

    The poster was from Atlanta's first season of roller derby, probably the 3rd bout ever held in Atlanta. At that time, our marketing $ was very limited and we were primarily getting fans and support from the tattoo and nightclub community, for which this artist was instantly recognizable.

    You are definitely entitled to your opinion. But just wanted to state these facts so that you know some of your interpretation is through the eye of the beholder.

    To view some more recent Atlanta posters by Dave Cook, who was Atlanta's official poster artist for about 4 or 5 years, visit this site:

  4. I don't think I was judging it (completely) out of context. My apologies for the assumption I brought to the table- but it also highlights some important things. I think it is worth noting how these images get read, especially to people who don't know the players personally, or what they look like.

    Even though Big Red is a Caucasian woman with red hair, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone that says she isn't presented in a style highly comparable to the way many black women are portrayed. Either way you slice it, it's problematic.

    I know that every artist has their own style, and what is it to find help where you can get it esp. when starting out, but it's still important to challenge norms. Which, for me, is what derby is about. Not to mention that its good to keep an open discourse about this stuff.

    Thanks for the links to the most recent stuff. Loving the Dave Cook work. You all rock.

  5. I love the vintage style derby posters. #8 actually reminds me a lot of the stuff I've seen at .... I have to agree though with the above comments that #1 isn't very unique (although it is cool)... but in comparison to the rest it's just an average derby poster. For my money the Charlie Layton art out of Philly is the best... such a cool style!