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The Making of the 2023 Poster

You may have seen the beautiful poster art for the 2023 Big Top Tour: A Midsummer Night’s Circus. What you may not know is that it was illustrated by our own Joy Powers, an alum who has worn many Smirkus hats! It was then digitally finalized by another long-time Smirkus artist, Jason Eckenroth.

Joy first became interested in circus and clowning after seeing a Circus Smirkus show at age 13. After attending Smirkus Camp, she auditioned for the Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour, in which she performed in the summers of 2006 and 2007. She is featured in and narrates Signe Taylor’s award winning documentary Circus Dreams, taped during her time on tourJoy then toured the country as a clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.

Since then, Joy has also been a coach at Smirkus Camp, house manager on tour and is a current school residency artist. She is a co-creator and performer of The Piccolini Trio, and is a Clown Doctor with  Laughter League at Boston Children’s Hospital.

In addition to her circus skills, Joy is a skilled multimedia artist. Over the last few years, she has designed our “Smirkus Joy” t-shirts, including our 35th anniversary shirt from last year. When it came time to designing the poster for a show filled with fairy magic, Joy’s art immediately came to mind. What we didn’t know is how she would approach the project!

Here are photos of the poster in creation. You’ll see that it includes many layers and art techniques including drawing, painting, collage and more.



After the physical art was complete, Joy took photos of the artwork so that it could be converted to a digital file.

Our graphic designer, Jason Eckenroth has a long history with Circus Smirkus, starting when he was barely older than a trouper, learning to swing a sledgehammer on tent crew. As he’s grown and developed, so has his relationship with Smirkus, as mainly the sound designer and engineer, and even Backlot Manager. And now, in the next stage of his career, post-grad school, Smirkus has found a role for him as a graphic designer.

There were 11 versions of the poster before it was finally completed! Working with Marketing Director Genevieve Martineau, Jason added the logo, shadowing, color corrections and text to finalize the poster that you see today.