This summer, Birmingham takes centre stage as all eyes are on the city during a sporting moment of a lifetime!
As part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, we wanted to celebrate the city that we are currently all part of, its place in the Commonwealth and the meaning of Freedom in our contemporary global city.
We have asked a select group of the city’s established creators and new design voices to respond to this proposition for us, resulting in 24 unique digital artworks that will be displayed at Birmingham 2022 Festival sites from 29th July – 8th August.
The full gallery of artwork will be available to view from Friday, in addition to being able to see the work over the next two weeks on screen at the festival sites.
Produced by Birmingham Design Festival and Outdoor Places Unusual Spaces, presented by Birmingham 2022 Festival.
Aaron Paddock • Amber Charlton • Amy Blackford • Berenice Lunn • Beverley Arthur • Cherie Kwok • David Stanley • Emily Birch • Emily Nash • Josie Lois • Jules O’Connor • Kieran Shaw • Mollie Rycroft-Stanley • Niyran Gill • Noah Kulman • Philly • Rosie Clarke • Rosie Smy • Ryan Jewkes • Sarina Kaur • Studio Baldwin • Super Freak • Vincent Man • Yumna Zahid
Hey! I’m Aaron, a Multidisciplinary Graphic Designer with a passion for brand identity and motion design.
Being a recent Birmingham City University Graduate, Birmingham has become a large part of who I am. I wanted to illustrate that Birmingham is the City of freedom, the freedom to be you.
Hi, I’m Amber! I am a multi-disciplinary creative studying Graphic Communication at Birmingham City University. Specialising in art direction, I have a passion for out-of-the-box thinking and merging analogue techniques and ideation in a digital driven world. I always love to challenge myself with new and exciting processes inspired by fine art theory, music, social causes, and the tactility and imperfections of urbanisation.
For me, freedom became clear and prominent within the city when I visited Birmingham Pride in 2021. Seeing the freedom of expression and diversity celebrated in the city’s culture continues to drive who I am as a creative. I wanted to bring to life Birmingham’s architecture from that perspective, inspired by the drag art scene. With a mixture of analogue collage and digital illustrative elements, I created a character concept communicating Birmingham’s freedom of expression.
A self-proclaimed tea lover and plant mother, Amy is an all-round eclectic designer with a huge passion for type, illustration and brand identity. As a Designer at Launch Agency, Amy prides herself in driving the future of the creative industry through breaking the boundaries between student creatives, new creatives and the creative industries that can seem daunting to those just starting out.
Using typography, the piece depicts a freedom of creative expression and what it means to create without rules. Remembering the roots of why – as a designer – many creatives take it upon themselves to turn a passion into a career. The piece strips away the limitations of design rules and exists to remind creatives that rules are made to be broken, no single letter follows the same style, and is a reminder that one is free to create in whatever way they please simply for the love of it. Creative expression is a personal form of freedom.
Berenice is a multi-disciplinary graphic designer based in Birmingham. Heading into her final year of study at Birmingham City University, Berenice’s practice stretches across editorial, photography and brand identity; harnessing sleek, minimal aesthetics in her work.
“In response to the theme of freedom, I wanted to reflect how Birmingham as a city provided a space for me to be challenged, grow and experience a new environment without limitation. Inspired by Digbeth’s famed street art and graffiti, I hope my piece might serve as a reminder to act on your right to freedom; take risks, disrupt, be playful, create and explore, all whilst leaving your mark along the way“.
HIYA , my name is Beverley Arthur I am currently going to be 2022 graduate from BCU. I inspire to become a creative multi-disciplinary designer. I specialise in print, digital brand identity, digital illustration, packaging identity, digital collage- posters and editorial.
My interpretation of Freedom is a position to go big in life enjoy and have fun- it’s an expressed feeling of a celebration.In my artwork I communicate the two illustrations of the hands to express every single thing people exhibit when they have or see freedom in Birmingham. Brum is referenced with photo collage known for Birmingham’s most-know landmarks.
Cherie is a freelance illustrator based in Birmingham. Her visual language draws influence from her Hong Kong heritage. Cultural identity, diversity, mental health, and wellbeing are key topics in her work. Her practice consists of editorial, advertising, publishing, and community-based projects. She is also currently the artist in residence at China Exchange in London.
This piece is inspired by exploration and questions about ou r place in the universe. The lone traveler admires the light that has travelled from thousands of light-years away. Look up around you and beauty and wonder is present everywhere.
David Stanley (Guri Bosh)
Guri Bosh is a multimedia artist based in Birmingham. His practice asks people to explore and challenge their surroundings through the realities constructed from the photographs he takes of Birmingham’s vast assemblage of textures and materials. He documents the city; then makes visions of a new one. He takes these elements—from past and presents alike—building new environs, impossible structures, and detailed formations that incite the viewer to explore their own surroundings and come away with a stronger perception of belonging. He is fascinated by the details a city confronts us with each day.
The collages he creates through still and moving images offer new perspectives on the spaces we occupy. He sees Birmingham as a mix of different cities compressed together, and through his work, wants to show how we are all contributing to something vast, transitional, and in a constant state of renewal. “I want people to notice the details that make up the spaces we occupy and know something new can be created out of the old.”
Emily is a freelance Illustrator from Birmingham who focuses mostly on digital techniques. She is fond of using bright, bold colours with simple line work. Topics of particular interest include climate change, veganism, equality, left-wing politics and general wellbeing.
‘Feminine Freedom’ has taken inspiration from an amazing community in Birmingham that accepts people for who they are and encourages each other to be their best selves. I think in order to feel free, we must support and help each other to express ourselves without judgement.
Emily Nash is a Birmingham based illustrator and designer. Emily creates illustration mainly focused around women celebrating the female form and relatable issues.
The unique and diverse cultures in Birmingham give us the freedom to truly express ourselves in a myriad of ways. From the creative and buzzing hub of Digbeth, to the community that united to protest for BLM in 2020 in Victoria Square, to the openness of loving who we love with Pride Festival in Gay Village.
I was eager to capture the variety of religions and cultures by incorporating St. Phillip’s Cathedral in the famous ‘Pigeon Park’, Birmingham Central Mosque and the Irish Quarter in Digbeth, which features a glimpse of the St. Patrick’s Parade.
I also wanted to depict the freedom of education with the library and the freedom to explore the city through the visual representation of a map style aesthetic. If you look closely, you can spot all of the landmarks, including the old Birmingham Irish Centre going off to heaven in Digbeth, the Rotunda and many more.
I’m Jules, a creative designer with over 10 years experience, with a huge passion for illustration and branding. I love experimenting with colour and patterns and injecting energy and playfulness into every project.
When I think of what freedom means to me and in the context of Birmingham as a city, it immediately conjures up feelings of limitless potential in a city packed full of free spirits and creators. Being a creative myself, I’ve always felt a strong sense of collaboration, empowerment and support from others – everything and everyone is celebrated and it truly is an inspiring city, without fear or boundaries.
I hope this piece of artwork expresses the thriving, vibrant, creative community that Birmingham holds close and how proud I am to be a part of this city.
Hey folks, I’m Mollie! A recent graduate of Birmingham City University, now a brand identity and packaging designer. Some say I am a little too obsessed with colour – I would say there is no such thing, the more colourful the better in my opinion! I love bringing a little joy into the world through my work and often find a way to sneak in a cheeky pattern here and there, because who doesn’t love a good pattern?
To me, freedom is about being able to express yourself to the fullest extent, showing the world who you are as a person and not having to keep yourself hidden in the shadows. A few months ago, I saw a video of a hundred-odd people singing and dancing in the streets of Birmingham and I had never felt more in love with the city – it reminded me that Birmingham is a place where you can just get up and do what you love and people will always be there to celebrate or join in with you. I wanted my piece of work to reflect this joy and remind people that they are perfect the way they are.
Hi I’m Niyran Gill, an Illustrator & Designer based in Birmingham, with a love for all things digital, iconography and texture.
Freedom means something different to everyone. For some, it’s having the opportunity to come together and celebrate the city we all love, from the comfort of our own homes. For others, it’s simply being able to live life how you wish, being true to only yourself and playing by your own rules.
Hello, I’m Noah Kulman an illustrator/printmaker based in the West Midlands. I’m a current artist in residence at Birmingham City University. My work often involves lo-fi printing such as rubber stamping which I use to create busy images often based around characters, iconography, and pop culture.
‘What Makes Us, Us!’ is a piece which explores and shows the unique diversity which makes up Birmingham as a city. It is a celebration of all our differences. Each Character started as a hand cut rubber stamp and with so many different ones, I hope that everybody finds one which resonates with them. To me that’s what freedom is, it’s the fact we can all find something different to enjoy when we look at the world around us. Just like the image we all a bunch of eclectic and funky different characters but that’s what makes us, well… us!
Designer Philly I am a Birmingham raised creative.
Loved being creative from a very young age and have always kept a love for art in many shapes and forms.
As a freelance graphic designer, I have worked with many clients and businesses.
I needed a way to release my creativity to balance client based brief work and my own imagination, this was the start of the journey as a Artist.
I Create art with a pop art style using complex simplicity. With the use of greyscale images and using bold bright colours with the use of paint strokes, lines, and shapes to bring a burst of life and energy to a blank canvas/screen.
What is freedom if you are away from nature.
Without the ability to fly and travel around the world to grow, flow and flourish outside your comfort zones to see new life and opportunity.
Rosie is a designer and artist working full-time in Birmingham. When not answering client briefs the majority of Rosie’s personal work revolves around creating strong compositions through collage and photomontage.
For me personally, freedom is about finding your ‘happy place’ whether that be a location, a person or a mindset. There is a comfort in freely being able to explore and experience new places/people but always having your happy place to fall back on. Birmingham and the vibrancy of its people has always been that for me.
Hi, I’m Rosie. A recent graduate of BCU and Birmingham covert. I often find myself taking a hands-on analogue approach when creating work, taking inspiration from the 70s underground rock scene and hand-printed aesthetics.
Coming from a small town I always found myself in a sort of groundhog day situation. The same faces coming and going and the same conversations being held over the small village bar I worked in. My piece of work was inspired by my move to Birmingham just over three years ago. For me, it resembles the diversity of the city, rich with opportunity and with that, the freedom to do whatever you choose. Birmingham’s constantly buzzing atmosphere has encouraged me to spread my wings and embrace every new experience the city has to offer. And for that, I will always be grateful.
Ryan Jewkes is a Birmingham based designer specialising in 3D, Motion and Brand Identity. His work is heavily influenced by Music, Film and Japanese culture. He enjoys experimenting with shape, colour and texture which he often animates to bring his designs to life.
Recently I have enjoyed taking things that are unadorned and flipping them on their heads, this 3D piece I worked on for BDF is an example of how you can take things that are usually seen as uninspiring and make something creative out of it. The symbols were inspired by things within my life that represent freedom and also things that represent freedom within Birmingham such as the freedom of time; the key ring represents the freedom to travel as I have huge passion for traveling and the lock was inspired by the lock bridge in Birmingham besides the mailbox.
‘Sarina is a Birmingham-based designer, originally from the Toon! She works with a variety of clients, from local to international, covering brand identity, marketing for print and digital, as well as a snippet of visual merchandising for retailers.
This outcome is an insight to the unlimited possibilities that can be explored when depicting freedom. The rotating copy emphasises being free to create and the colours celebrate Birmingham being a vibrant hub for design.’
Super Freak is an Artist & Commercial Illustrator from Birmingham who has captured the world’s attention and heart with the creation of ‘Spanky’…A friendly & optimistic hand inspired by old cartoons and pop culture. His work instantly draws you into a world of imaginary characters and positive vibes with humour and a warm blanket of nostalgia, that’s sure to put you in a good mood! Super Freak and Spanky officially teamed up back in 2017 and since then have worked with an impressive catalogue of clients such as VANS, Burger King, Budweiser, Levis’, Dr Martens, The New York Times and many more.
Hi I’m Vincent, a 3D illustrator and animator with a background in architecture. I loved the way an architect tells a narrative by playing with their toolkit of light, composition, materials, proportions, and sound in immersive 3D spaces. My desire to create captivating narratives in 3D led me into my exploration of illustration and motion design. Rather than grounding yourself within a physical space, my work sets to distort our reality to take you into a surreal 3D landscape of bold colour and explosive movement. I am particularly inspired by dance, music and architecture and I try to channel all of them in abstract scenes that explore our emotional & physical expression within the urban environment.
For me, freedom is about liberating yourself from worries about the past and future. We are all living in such a turbulent time, politically, socially, economically, and environmentally. On top of all that, we also must deal with our own personal concerns. Inspired by Buddhist concepts of “emancipation”, this artwork is about appreciating what the present brings to you, as well as being content with the impermanence and imperfection of things. Visually, I was inspired by Birmingham’s historical context. When people think of Brum’s iconic architecture, the Selfridges building or the Library comes to mind. However, the viaducts are often overlooked, which gives Digbeth its distinctive look. One of the times I feel most content is in the last minutes on the train before entering New Street and seeing the golden hour touch the rooftops of Digbeth.
Hello I’m Yumna, a multidisciplinary designer based in Birmingham. My creative practice focuses on creating bold, playful and meaningful designs – this means my work is usually non-conformist, sometimes witty and often political. I love communicating important messages through my work and would describe my style as very unreserved; I enjoy being an extrovert on paper! I’m fascinated by all disciplines in design and take inspiration from conversations, nature and everything else around me.
Individual freedom is often poisoned by the pressure to ‘fit in’. We end up internalising whatever culture society demands and labels as ‘normal’. This not only undermines all the beautiful, rich cultures minorities, like myself, belong to, it diminishes the value of diversity. My piece, which is inspired by the diverse city of Birmingham, illustrates how freedom is embracing our cultures and heritage.
Preserving nuances in cultures is vital to a liberated society and I feel encouraged by this diverse city to celebrate my culture and speak my language.