Leeds International Beer Festival

For the past few years, I’ve worked with the Leeds International Beer Festival providing a bit of design know-how in order to create beermats, documents, banners, and of course the printed festival programme.

My friend & illustrator, Drew Millward, illustrates the festival poster and I use that as a starting point to develop a visual style to use across the whole of the festival  – coming up with a complimentary colour scheme, 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 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.

The artwork Drew creates each year provides the festival with a very recognisable visual style. It’s fun picking out which elements to reuse and sometimes I even draw 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 it’s also satisfying and I appreciate Drew’s total trust in me to reconfigure his work into a different format.

The bulk of the work is, of course, in laying out the Festival Programme (usually about 40 pages or so in length). It’s a simple, practical thing but a lot of thought goes into putting it together to ensure there is logic and consistency to how information is laid out.

By the end of the weekend, they are seen torn, trampled and scattered around the festival site which I kind of get a kick out of. Seeing the work used and abused in its proper boozy environment.