Festival design: from portaloo graffiti to car sculptures

Last week, we wrote about V Festival’s new branding, which emulates the colourful look of existing music events. Now, designers tell us about their favourite festival designs.

Paula Benson, co-founder, Form

“A toilet isn’t the most obvious place for an iconic or prophetic piece of art or design, especially not a festival toilet. But I will never forget the stencil graffiti that appeared on the back of the metal toilet doors at Glastonbury many moons ago, from a then little-known artist called Banksy. It was the – now famous – monkey bearing a placard stating ‘Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be In Charge’. Genius in its placement, sentiment and design. In the days when festivals were a melting pot of ideas and politics, this Banksy piece cemented a moment. Fast forward to 2017 – Banksy is a household name and just look at our world leaders in charge…”


Adam Rix, creative director, Music

“Ironically, despite being part of an agency called Music, I’m someone that gets as much pleasure from the purr of a classic V8 car engine as I do from the dulcet tones of a bass guitar. I’d have to choose artist Gerry Judah’s repeatedly incredible automotive monuments at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Every year he works with a brand to create something that appears to defy the laws of physics and the imagination. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favourite, but if pushed, I’d say 2013’s celebration of three generations of the iconic Porsche 911.”


Tessa Simpson, design director, O Street

“The Warehouse Project has always had a great, distinctive visual style. I loved the bold graphic approach of the original billing listings, and the super impactful outdoor advertising. The current Warehouse Project marque makes great reference to the punchy, post-punk visual style that was pioneered in the 1970s/80s by Factory Records – the kaleidoscopic colour specifically bringing to mind New Order and Joy Division. Although referencing that era, it does still have a contemporary feel to it.”


Ellie Polston, graphic designer, Build

“My favourite has to be Hove Festival, an environmentally neutral music festival held on the island Tromøy in southern Norway. Its green-minded, DIY ethos formed how the festival branding was executed. Everything from the festival wayfinding, food vendor signs and toilet signs were all hand-painted by volunteer illustrators. Each illustration was unique so it gave the festival a unified yet organic, handcrafted feel – fitting with the setting perfectly! Artists and sculptors also exhibited installations in the forest and in the old war shelters, which were really in keeping with the feel of the brand.”


Gordon Reid, founder, Middle Boop

“My favourite design has always been the All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP) festival artwork. They were the original people to curate really beautiful artwork for advertising posters and the brand in general, rather than just having a list of bands and a logo. Each year, you not only looked forward to the line-ups being announced, you looked forward to seeing which artists they had chosen to work with. This included everyone from Shepard Fairey to Matt Groening and ATP always sold limited edition prints of the posters, which were viewed as works of art in their own right. My favourites were the Michael Michael Motorcycle Michael prints and the Explosions In The Sky-curated festival with the artwork designed by Kii Arens. There was so much intrigue about this amazing festival created purely by the beautiful artwork. I miss ATP so much.”


What’s your favourite festival design? Let us know in the comments section below.

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