Literary festivals turn to design to make an impression

The University of Dundee is to host the city’s first-ever literary festival next month, and has unveiled a look and style for the event devised by its in-house design team.

Festival director and organiser Anna Day explains that as the university is already a partner in the Dundee Book Prize, the festival was a natural development for the institution. ‘Dundee has such a rich literary heritage that it seemed natural for the city to have a literary festival. We’ve got an excellent array of new and exciting writers, as well as some of the most established names in the business, so there really should be somebody that appeals to everybody,’ she says.

The university’s in-house design team has been working for the past five months on a brief to create a logo and style of branding suitable for a diverse audience that could also be carried across literature and a website.

‘In-house teams can often be overlooked, but ours has done an amazing job,’ says Day. ‘I originally thought of a quill to make up part of the logo, but the designers came up with the far more attractive ink spot.’

The ink spot is intended to represent both the beginning and end of words, as well as the diversity of the festival. ‘We have international authors, new authors, children’s authors. We wanted a single symbol of all that, and the ink brings them all together perfectly,’ says Day. The rest of the programme and website have been kept clean and uncluttered.

Earlier this month, the Port Eliot Literary Festival in Cornwall unveiled its identity, with a logo designed by UK artist Gavin Turk. The festival, now in its fifth year, invites an artist to create a different look and feel for the festival each year. Turk has developed a logo based on his renowned memorial blue heritage plaque, which is said to have launched his career.

Day, who was previously an organiser of the Falmouth Festival of Literature & Arts in Cornwall, says that the identity for this year’s Port Eliot festival is distinctly Cornish. ‘Whether it’s by an artist or a designer, knowing Cornwall, it’s very distinct and is a great piece of branding,’ she says.

Internationally renowned authors Philip Pullman and Jacqueline Wilson will headline the two-day Dundee event, which will be held at the Tower Building, Perth Road from 21-22 June. The organisers are hoping to attract up to 2000 visitors. For further details, go to or

• Dundee is one of the cities that will be hosting the Six Cities Design Festival, which takes place throughout Scotland over the summer
• Animation is part of Dundee’s heritage – Dundee publishers DC Thomson first published The Dandy 70 years ago, which was followed by The Beano

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