Spain takes its fiestas seriously. The most important, such as Valencia’s Fallas and Carnival in Cádiz have received a special denomination known as Fiesta de Interés Turístico Internacional, meaning that, like historic buildings and places, they must be supported and cherished and are recognised as an asset to the tourist industry. But fiestas are locally loved as well, providing Spaniards with yet another opportunity to let their hair down and heels up.
The fiesta culture has also led to a lively sub-genre in the graphic arts. Whether a major city fiesta or a local food fair, most organisers contact local designers to submit posters for the event. The final choice is often hotly debated in the local press: in 2005 a poster depicting a Cuban woman for Barcelona’s La Mercé festival sparked a minor polemic on immigration and Catalan identity.
Pamplona’s city council has been running a ‘popular choice’ competition for Los Sanfermínes (or ‘running of the bulls’) festival for the past two years. In 2009, graphic artist Ángel Blanco Egoskozaba won for his portrayal of el chupinazo, the heady moment when the entire city (and a large number of brave tourists), dressed in white and red gather in from of Pamplona’s city hall waiting for the mayor to step out and yell the words ‘Viva San Fermín’—the official start of the nine day-long fiesta.
This was the fourth time Egoskozaba had won a poster contest in Spain. ‘Some people climb mountains in their spare time,’ he says. ‘I create posters. The local council gives you the liberty to do what you want as long as it is original and identifying of the event. But because the public votes for the winner, you need to do something you think they’ll like.’