I recently finished a large batch of design and layout work for the Leeds International Beer Festival.
I’ve actually done work for them for the past 3 years but the weeks prior to the festival are so busy for me, I’ve neglected to post about it! This year is the first year I can actually attend the festival (finally!) so I decided to take the time to document some of the work I’ve done.
I was brought onboard in 2014 after being recommended by friend & illustrator Drew Millward, whose bold artwork has provided the festival with a very recognisable visual style ever since. Design and Illustration, while often overlapping, are very different disciplines and sometimes require a different approach and set of skills.
In the case of LIBF, Drew illustrates the festival poster, provides me with the photoshop file, and then I develop that into a visual style that is used across the rest of the festival – coming up with a complimentary colourscheme, typography, and even chopping up and rearranging the artwork for different applications.
Here are some key things I try to keep in mind with this work:
- Keep it functional and easy for the audience to read/use/engage with – sometimes good design works quietly in the background.
- Ensure that design work fits seamlessly with Drew’s illustration work to create a consistent, recognisable tone of voice – compliment not compete!
- Give it enough character and colour so that it feels fresh, new and different from the previous year.
Not all illustrators get on with the rules-based aspects of design but I actually really enjoy this type of work. It requires a change of mental gear, for sure, but it’s also very satisfying when everything ‘just looks right’ on a page, and information is clear and pleasing to the eye.
The artwork Drew has created for this year’s festival is some of my favourite work of his, so a highlight for me has been taking that artwork apart and reassembling to create a pair of huge billboard designs.
Some elements are reused and I’ve even drawn some additional parts to match the style, so the end result falls somewhere between collaboration and forgery.
It’s a strange part of the job, essentially scrutinising and then dismantling your friend’s work, but I’m really satisfied with the final billboards and appreciate Drew’s total trust in me to reconfigure his work into a different format.
I found a great set of bold typefaces which I felt would be perfect for the festival this year, so created the ‘Leeds International Beer Festival’ masthead which is used in various places.
The bulk of the work, of course, has been laying out the 44 page Festival Programme. It’s a simple, practical thing but a lot of thought has gone into putting it together – giving each beer section a coloured edge so it’s easy to flick through and making sure there’s logic and consistency to how information is layed out.
I’m really proud of all the bits and pieces I’ve put together. Thanks go to Darren and Maria, the festival organisers, for hiring me and being so enthusiastic to work with.
I’m really looking forward to the festival! There are an overwhelming amount of great beers available. I hope the design work remains functional and enjoyable to the eyes when the reader is good ‘n drunk.