2010 festival poster and signage

Karel Martens was commissioned to design the poster for the 21st festival. Besides the recognition Martens enjoys as a distinguished graphic designer and educator, the Dutchman’s appointment was prompted by the organisers’ wish to establish a continuity with the previous editions of the festival (notably the “Dutch Resource” exhibition in 2005) as well as to embrace contemporary trends in graphic design, which Martens typifies.

His poster is a colourful composition that follows on from his optical explorations, in which a motif is deconstructed during conception and printing before being reconstituted by the eye and brain. The image – in fluorescent cyan, magenta and yellow, transparent yellow, and black for the text – was printed in five inks by Lézard Graphique. The brilliance of the primary colours and the overprintings enable the colours to subvert the systematic nature of the colour-run sequence.

In parallel to this commission, the Helmo studio (Thomas Couderc and Clément Vauchez) was tasked with creating a standalone graphic system for the festival’s signage and print collateral. These elements, besides their role in informing and guiding the public, were expected to intervene in Chaumont through their graphic design, and to change the face of the town, using the festival as a pretext.

Their execution – diagonal colour stripes of uniform thickness, irrespective of substrate – allowed optimum occupation of space both on a monumental scale (colour straps on the Town Hall facade, window coverings at Les Silos and in bus shelters, etc.) and in more intimate contexts (postcards, tablemats, cars…). This signature – given an expressive quality by the colour and rhythm of the compositions it enables – references the convention used by graphic designers in editorial design layouts and with DTP programs to mark a surface that can receive graphic content. During the festival these small items, which are often graphically dull and invisible, were thus lit up by Helmo’s work.

Besides the technical solution of adhesive tape, there was also a decisive collaboration with print firm Lézard Graphique. In situ, the sheets were divided into groups, making it possible to produce a wide range of colour grounds with only four printing screens. These sheets, intended as signage and printed in poster sizes of 120 x 180 cm and 40 x 60 cm, were stuck on triangular units that could be arranged to generate further diversity. The programme was given the same treatment (colour stripes, Akzidenz-Grotesk) and printed on a rotary press; colour was used for the diagonal lines, so the artworks were printed in black.