Piccolo Spoleto poster

The 2018 Piccolo Spoleto Festival poster by Tami Boyce.

The poster for this year’s Piccolo Spoleto festival depicts a robot sitting in an empty movie theater, munching on nuts and bolts in a popcorn bucket next to a balloon he brought along for company.

Charleston illustrator Tami Boyce, the poster’s designer, said the robot — one she has used in several drawings — is meant to make people smile. He was designed by humans before their extinction, she has decided, and it still has an affinity for their culture. Boyce maintains that the robot is actually quite content: His world, one in which he reenacts human traditions, is all he’s ever known.

Therefore, it’s easy to understand why the robot has decided to take his balloon out on the town, she said.

“Everyone can relate to a night out at the movies," Boyce said. "You see a bit of yourself, even in a different situation.”

Although Boyce trained as a graphic designer, she works more in illustration because it offers her a chance to be whimsical, she said. Born in upstate New York, she has lived in Charleston for 15 years. A previous series was based on the city’s nautical maps, and she has done illustration work for Frothy Beard Brewery in Charleston.

In designing the poster for Piccolo Spoleto, the sprawling city-run sister festival to Spoleto Festival USA, Boyce decided to highlight the lighter side of what Piccolo has to offer.

“I’ve always gravitated toward Piccolo Spoleto,” she said. “I love that Piccolo Spoleto focuses on the lighter, smaller, weirder events.”

Joe Allen is a Goldring Arts Journalist at Syracuse University.