Every year, during the dog days of summer, thousands of New Yorkers and visitors from around the world head to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens for America’s sole Grand Slam tournament: the U.S. Open.
As part of the buildup to this two-week event, posters and advertisements are splashed across the city’s streets and subways to promote it.
This year’s poster was designed by Sean Loose, a 27-year-old graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design based in New York who works as a brand illustrator for the job site Indeed.com. He won the highly coveted gig after a four-month process, during which he submitted various designs and ideas to the United States Tennis Association.
To get in the right frame of mind, Loose said he had to do a fair amount of research. “At first [I was] a little bit of a fish out of water,” he admitted. “I knew this was going to be a really cool experience, but I am not really a sports guy and never have been. I’ve watched tennis on TV every once in a while, but before this project I had never really delved into it.”
Loose scoured Instagram for tennis images and Googled “the US Open,” trying to pull inspiration from whatever he could find.
“I watched YouTube videos of matches to familiarize myself with the sport,” he said, even sketching countless rackets and tennis balls. “There was definitely a concept waiting to happen there. But I had to get out all the generic ideas first.”
Loose breaks down his ultimate design into three components: One is that tennis imagery—the balls and the court—to represent the sport. But he also wanted to bring in the sense of excitement from being in the stadium.
“When you’re watching a tennis match, you’re not allowed to really make a lot of noise during the actual match,” he said. “Because you don’t want to distract the players. So when you do find a good cheer, when somebody scores, it’s explosive, crazy and celebratory. All that bottled-up emotion comes out in that one moment. So I wanted to really focus on that and capture that as much as possible.”
Loose was inspired to include the third major visual—the fans—by the USTA itself. This year marks the first time the organization is hosting a Fan Week where, the week prior to the Open, the Tennis Center opened up to the public and hosted concerts, practices with players, autograph sessions and more. In his conversations with the USTA, Loose said he could tell they wanted the fans to be highlighted in the poster.
Inspiration struck in other ways for the rest of the poster’s design: The blue background is based on the color of the U.S. Open courts. Loose wanted to highlight the New York City setting of the event, so he placed the skyline off in the distance. Though the design is compact, he wanted it to carefully draw attention to these important points.
“A poster is the first image; it’s letting people know what they’re getting into,” he said. “Any good poster is going to take the most important elements of whatever event you’re trying to advertise and really augment those.”