Back in September I was commissioned by the Foundation LustrumOpera (part of Utrecht student orchestra USConcert) to work on the design of their advertizing material. Since then I have created a flyer, several roll-up banners, a full page print ad in German, stationary, and assorted other materials. One of the main items I have designed, though, is an 8-page brochure outlining the concept of performing two shows (Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold, and a hybrid between modern and classical music, light- and video performance called The Wagner Experience) on a Rhine barge in several cities along the river Rhine.
I came into the project after some preliminary design work had already been done. There already was an earlier brochure, and a logo. When I came on board, though, one of the first things I discussed with their art director was defining a new look to be implemented across the board. Their existing effort conveyed the seriousness of their message, and presented a clean and modern image designed to draw in sponsoring for the project. However, in talking to the organization, it quickly became apparent that these values, while important, were only part of the message they were hoping to convey: words like grungy, industrial, dramatical and impressive were as important, if not more so to the image they hoped to project. Therefore, the first thing I did was to subtly redesign the logo, replacing the blue with gold and rounding off the corners, and coming up with a new palette designed to better evoke the emotional values I was asked to convey. I did this by choosing black and gold as the main colours for all of their promotional material, and on the whole choosing photographs and other graphics that in using darkness and light had a more moody atmosphere than they had previously used.
When presented with this draft of their new branding, they felt that by using a colour gradient for the gold the look was still too digital, and through their web designer they found a suitable photograph of actual gold that could be used as a fill for the gold parts of the project.
Another request was for some graphical representation of their tour schedule, which includes dates in both Germany and the Netherlands, and is centered around the river Rhine — this is, of course, entirely logical, as the performances are on a Rhine barge. We therefore decided to try to represent the tour schedule as a map. In this I incorporated the separate logo’s for these shows. (I’d designed these as part of the diversification of these two shows.)
For the brochure itself the client felt that keeping a white background would convey a more serious message for possible investors, so they requested I kept this feature of their original brochure. For the rest of the update, I took inspiration from two brochure designs from the early 1990s that used an interesting design for the layout of images. The first was for a warranty corporation that combined a flying eagle with a triangular insert, giving the design a particularly dynamic look. The other, for a sail cruise organization, showed the effect interesting borders could have in a brochure.
To these two basic tenets, I added a number of things. The first was to vary the column sizes, which helped to give this brochure a less ordered feel than it would otherwise have had, complying with the grungier outlook desired. More importantly, I decided to implement a layering effect in this brochure, using drop shadows, to give it a more lively feel, and to help create some order in the various elements that would fill its pages.
I also implemented a radically different look I had devised for the portion of the brochure devoted to the Wagner Experience. As this show is intended to draw a younger, hipper public the look created for this is a lot more modern. It still draws on the same basic resources as the look for the organization as a whole, but by using negative images and a starker contrast a much edgier feel is created. The stylized look of this part of the brochure is one of the aspects of this work I’m proudest of.
As the client was rather happy with their original Photoshopped cover photo of a Rhine barge carrying heaps of gold (not done by me) I was asked to retain this. To help fit it into the new, more dramatic look I had devised for the organization, I decided to add a black vignette to the cover in an attempt to take away from the well-lit and open feel of this photo. I also moved the text element to cover the everyday banality visible on the banks of the river, which consisted of a collection of modern, grey, rectangular industrial units, and a sleek bridge. While I’m still not completely happy with this cover, as I feel it is not dramatic and impressive enough, it is certainly a cover the client is happy with.
On the whole, I am very happy with how this design came together. The different elements easily found a place in the whole, while the overall layout helps tie the many little pieces together and keeps the complete brochure readable.