New year, new look: Artwork by Michelle Thompson

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Michelle Thompson is the artist extraordinaire behind this year’s Festivals’ graphic identity. Her brief was to create a visual treatment for each Festival that together would form a unified collection to reflect the uniqueness of Cheltenham Festivals. She tells us a bit more about the creative process that inspired her distinctive designs:

I was so excited to discover that I’d been appointed as the Festivals’ artist for 2016. Absolutely everyone has heard of Cheltenham Festivals so this was an incredible opportunity to be part of something really special.

When I think of Cheltenham Festivals I think of the outdoors, energy, wonder and extremes. Each Festival has its own character though and so I wanted to create a different atmosphere for each piece of Festival artwork.

The four images had to work in different formats (for example on the brochure cover and online) and they had to have a unifying narrative across all the designs so I worked on all of the images together to make sure they worked as a set.

Each design has its own distinct colour scheme but the combination of traditional and modern, old and new elements help to link the images together.

I have a huge archive of thought-provoking materials collected over the past 20 years that inspire my work; everything from postcards, books and magazines, to wood block type, typewriters and printing sets.

The first thing I do when starting on a new brief is to go through this huge collection and get together some colour schemes, textures and patterns with which to start working.

My work is a combination of techniques, using paint and ink as well as my own and others photography. I scan all of my physical materials and then work digitally to create the final design that can be tweaked before it is unveiled to the world.


The Cheltenham Festivals artwork 2016.

From left to right: Cheltenham Jazz Festival, The Times Cheltenham Science Festival, Cheltenham Music Festival, The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.