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Exhibitions & pop-ups

The Creative City

  • On Now in the City Centre
  • Exhibition

Opening this Summer’s postponed Birmingham Design Festival was a new and exciting exhibition launching on, titled ‘The Creative City’. Aligning with 2021’s theme of ‘Colour’ this exciting and vibrant exhibition, confidently celebrated Birmingham.

Over 100 of our regions finest illustrators, designers, typographers, printmakers and artist all produced a large format poster – utilising the same colour palette. The work was a mixture of the personal and commercial, featuring everything from family histories to celebrations of food and music.

Kicking-off BDF 2021, the exhibition of the work at full 60×40″ size, pasted up onto A-boards, was held in Factory Works at the Custard Factory in Digbeth. Over 600 people attended the exhibition, using the launch party as an opportunity to catch up the old friends and colleagues after a difficult year.

Catalogues of all the work were for sale, printed beautifully by local firm Clarkeprint, utilising gorgeous G.F Smith papers. One-off, ‘actual size’ prints were also auctioned raising nearly £6,000 for the artists, BDF and Sifa Fireside.

The full gallery of work is available to view below a selection of the posters are currently brightening up the city thanks to our outdoor advertising partner Jack Arts.

Watch the film

Alongside the exhibition, we produced this film showcasing some of the contributors , documenting their background, their creative vision and the spaces they work from around Birmingham. With thanks to Method in Motion and Awesome Merchandise.

The Artists

Abbie Reilly • Adam Guy • Adam Lloyd • Alastair Taylor • Andy Roberts • Anjuli McKenna • Annatomix • Antonio Roberts • Arthur Kearns • Ash O’Brien • Barbara Gibson • Becky Bell • Ben Javens • Beth Ingleton • Bex Whitling • Brumhaus • Byng • Cairo Hamilton • Callum Barnes • Charlotte Banks • Charlotte Jenkins • Cherie Kwok • Chris Day • Common Curiosity • David Henshaw • Ellie Hunter • Emily Caplan • Emily Jeffrey • Esme Stillaway • Farah Girach • Fokawolf • Folk Like These • Gareth Davies • Gaz Burns • Grace Tomlinson • Hannah Parkes • Hapico • Helen Wheeler • Ian Jones • Imbue • Irish Nicole T. Abenoja • Jen Leem-Bruggen • Jess Webberley • Jim Howells • Jody Woodhouse • John Williamson • Jonny Mcgarry • Joseph Frascina • Josh Cutts • Justin Sola • Kat Tromans • Keith Dodds • Kieran Glennon • Kristian Jones • Lindsay Baker • Lisa Barrett • Lou Chorley • Lucky Pablo • Luke Sewell • Luke Skinner • Luke Tonge • Luke Waller • Mack Stevens • Mark Murphy • Martin Donnelly • Mattie Lynch • Meg Hickman • Mengxia Liu • Michelle Turton • Nathan Chan • Neeraj Kainth • Niyran Gill • Old Bort • Olly Wells • PET CLUB • Pheeb Robinson • Pickle Illustration • Poppy Small • Raj Dhunna • Ravnita Rayet • Rebecca Howson • Robert Lockley • Roots • Rosie Clarke • Sarah Bagshaw • Sarah Easter • Seven 9 Signs • Shaun Loynds • Shiyi Li • Sleep Sparrow • Studio Baldwin • Super freak • Tasia Graham • Ted Jones • Tina Jiwa • Tom Woolley • Tomas Rowell • Vanessa Mountain • Window Artists • BDF

The History of The Creative City exhibition

The exhibition has taken many forms over the past couple of years. Read more about the various locations it has lived.

The Creative City: Exhibition Launch

Market Hall, Digbeth – Aug 2021

We launched the Creative City as the first event of BDF 2021, with hundreds of art lovers descending on Digbeth for a long overdue get-together after a year stuck indoors.

All 100 posters were printed onto wooden A boards and subsequently auctioned, raising money for the artists and local charity Sifa Fireside.

The Creative City: Outdoor Display

13th–23rd Aug 2021

We knew the poster submissions would be so good we couldn’t just keep them to ourselves — so with generous support by our partner Jack Arts we took roughly half the exhibition to the streets of Birmingham for everyone to enjoy!

The Creative City: Bullring Exhibition

Nov 2021–Nov 2022

For around a year, the Creative City donned three entire floors of the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham – covering the end of the mall previously occupied by Debenhams and engaging hundreds of thousands of shoppers.

The Creative City: City Centre Exhibition

June 2022–Present

As the city prepared to welcome countries from across the commonwealth in the summer of ’22, we helped decorate the empty shop units across the city centre with the Creative City artwork.

Shoppers to the city can still see the window displays along New Street and Corporation Street.

See the artwork

We hope you enjoyed the in-person exhibition at Factory Works. We’re now delighted to present the full exhibition in digital form.

1. Birmingham Design Fest

To complete the 100 we had to include our own exhibition poster! Thanks to Jack Arts, these will be seen across Brum (and the UK) letting people know about The Creative City exhibition – and demonstrating our love for this years conference theme – colour.

We believe in the power of creativity to inspire, educate and empower – and there is no format more pure or full of potential – than the poster.

2. Adam Guy

I’m a British artist based in Birmingham. My work is concerned with developing landscapes that map out irrational thoughts. I work across a range of disciplines: film, animation, painting, collage, and sculpture.

A hybrid of thoughts and memories associated with Birmingham’s ever-changing landscape.

3. Adam Lloyd

I’m Adam. The bike riding, still deciding, coffee providing creative with a passion for the way design connects, reflects and inspires communities. A Birmingham City University graduate, the second city has always held a place in my heart. You can now find me putting the hours in at Kingel, animating, creating and frustrating my team.

Inspired by the people, loveliness and success of Birmingham, I felt inspired to design a piece of work that illustrated the brawn, kindness and good-heartedness manifested through the second city streets. I’ve illuminated each specific section by designing a badge, each as important as the last! As a whole, this sums up the beauty of Brum, reflecting that illustrious Midlands charm.

4.  Alastair Taylor

Alastair is a Midlands-based artist and illustrator who works in a pen-to-paper approach, refined digitally from his roots in Graphic Design. His work plays with situations of everyday life and he aims to create an atmosphere through every medium in his work.

This illustration depicts a scene that is familiar to all of us that casually find ourselves people-watching. The characters in this illustration are an amalgamation of my experiences waiting for the bus home and finding curiosity in people, wondering what their stories are.

5. Andy Roberts

Andy Roberts is a Birmingham-based independent designer, working under the name Studio Denley. He works with a variety of clients, from local to international, covering brand identity, design for print, digital and spaces.

Birmingham is a hub of creativity. It has shared its inspiration with the world through a combination of invention, ingenuity and hard work. This piece is a collection of Birmingham’s creative hubs, celebrating some of the design and creativity that has come out of the city.

6. Anjuli McKenna

Anjuli McKenna is a graphic Artist & Designer based in Birmingham, UK. She works with clean lines, sleek visuals & motion to create an elegant aesthetic.

All around the Wrekin is a phrase specific to the Midlands, which has always amused me because non-midlanders don’t know what it means. My piece reflects the sentiment of the phrase in that it leads the viewer’s eye all around the decorative elements. The many layers and perspectives exude a dynamism that is not straight forward viewing.

7. Annatomix

Previously a musician, sound engineer and occasional illustrator – Annatomix decided to make art her full-time endeavour in 2010. Starting from a natural leaning toward geometry and traditional graphic design, she has spent the past decade developing her style and narrative, into one that is distinctly, her own. Her first solo show happened in London, in February 2015, and she has since gone forward to participate in a long list of group exhibitions and street art festivals, both in the UK and internationally. Annatomix’s works can now be found in a multitude of places – from stickers on lampposts to multi-story murals, in private collections, galleries and even museums. She creates symbolic, modernist works – inspired by philosophy, geometry, history, nature and evolution – and has become particularly well known for her large-scale murals, featuring unmistakable polygonal animals and bold geometric patterns.

I decided to take my inspiration from the Birmingham coat of arms and the concept of the ‘City of 1000 trades’. I find it highly relatable as I consider myself a bit of a Jack of All Trades, and I have such a big soft spot for industrial Brum. Plus, I’ve been waiting ages for a good excuse to stick a crown on something. The crown on the Birmingham coat of arms is called a ‘mural crown’, which I hereby claim on behalf of our ever-growing street art and graffiti community!

8. Antonio Roberts

Antonio Roberts is an artist and curator based in Birmingham, UK, working primarily with video, code, and sound. He is critically engaged with the themes surrounding network culture and in his practice explores how technology continues to shape ideas of creation, ownership, and authorship. As a performing visual artist and musician he utilises live coding techniques to demystify technology and reveal its design decisions, limitations, and creative potential.

Walking in the City reflects on the changing landscape of Birmingham, and how its uniqueness is made by the people that live in it, not through precise city planning. The near constant rebuilding of Birmingham has changed how we experience and interact with it. Each new revision creates a new creative playground and an opportunity for us to make the city our own.

9. Arthur Kearns

I am a 2020 graduate from BCU, currently working as a freelance illustrator in Leicester.

During the time I spent at university in Birmingham I grew a lot as a person and as an artist. It’s here that I found my visual language and really began to enjoy creating art again, after many years of self doubt. I love the art I make and I love making it.

10. Ash O’Brien

Birmingham-based designer, brand consultant & educator.

I’ve always disliked the term ‘the second city’ as it makes us feel a bit second-rate to London. In the spirit of celebrating Birmingham and focussing on some of the massive achievements and highlights of Brum — I’ve selected four facts that will hopefully make people reconsider using the phrase and the idea that we’re 2nd, when we’re actually top (1st) for so many good things.

11. Barbara Gibson

Over the last 7 years I have invested a great deal of time to develop new techniques and practices within art. It is how my artistic and commercial journey in Illustration and Collage making began. I often use vintage magazines from mid-twentieth century to create socially engaged pieces applied in a humorous and unprecedented way. My work can be read as a non-narrative celebration of the present and the past or as insightful observations of realities I playfully mix and merge.

In my response I wanted to show the city the way I see it since I become a Brummie 7 years ago.

It’s such a diverse city that constantly develops its potential that is full of colour, creative people, and perspectives for the future. Birmingham’s rich heritage not only inspire but also gives a room for the past and the present to become one.

12. Becky Bell

I’m AcceberDraws… or Becky Bell, a recent graduate from BCU.

This piece is called ‘My Creative Friends’ – when I think about Birmingham and The Creative City I immediately think of all of my talented friends that helped and inspired me everyday, this is something that is worth celebrating.

13. Ben Javens

Ben is a freelance illustrator working for clients internationally, such as The New York Times, The School of Life, Smithsonian, Frances Lincoln, QIC Australia, TOMS, Warburtons, 8th Continent, Hugo Boss, The Guardian, Die Zeit and Timeout Magazine.

He also works as a designer and illustrator for Studio Anorak on commissioned projects as well as the quarterly published magazines Anorak and dot.

William ‘Bill’ Dyas was my grandad. He could often be heard saying that he was going to run away. Run away from his life as a miner in a northern town for a new life in Birmingham. I doubt he really meant it and I’m not sure that he ever even visited.

My piece is about his wanting to run away and my own unconscious decision to make the city my home. I left West Yorkshire and travelled the 106 miles to Birmingham in search of Art and a better understanding of it. I found that but I also found a place I would eventually come to call home and raise a family of my own. Sometimes I wish I could run away to a northern town. Maybe my children, or their children will?

14. Beth Ingleton

I’m Beth Ingleton! I’m a Graphic Artist, born and raised in Hampshire and now a Birmingham resident.

The process of going from a small, quiet town to a big creative city like Birmingham was what inspired this piece. I find myself surrounded by so many creative people and so much energy! Just always riding a wave of inspiration.

15. Bex Whitling

I created Spice Up Your Line to celebrate female empowerment, individuality and beauty through illustrations. I am inspired by femininity which challenges societies expectation of beauty standards and embraces all forms of what being a powerful, beautiful woman is all about. Different colours, shapes and patterns are used to reflect this individuality and beauty within every design.

Birmingham is known as ‘the city of 1000 trades’ and I completely agree. However, since moving here I have been inspired and overwhelmed by how many powerful women in many different career sectors are pioneering and leading the way for change and the next generation. In a lot of cases, certain male dominated jobs are deemed ‘unfit and unconventional’ for a woman to pursue, however I believe Birmingham is the city that is the exception. From skateboarders to DJ’s, construction workers to security guards and sound engineers to CEO’s, the women of Brum are proving to everyone that we can do anything. This painting includes a few nods to certain professions and is my way of illustrating how much we run this town. Birmingham really is the city of 1000 babes.

16. Brumhaus

Alexander Edwards (known as Brumhaus) creates unique graphic artworks of architecture and urban landscapes. He has been producing prints in his hard-edged style since 2015, portraying various views of Birmingham, London and elsewhere. He explains his process, ‘I create a pencil sketch based on either a real view or a combination of different architectural elements. Then I redraw a few times on layout paper, usually working to a grid. Once the composition looks right I redraw it digitally.

Functional cities run like machines, each building is a vital component providing user experience and housing places of learning and work. My submission portrays the buildings of the city of Birmingham. I created a semi abstract image as a montage of architectural elements using geometric shapes and patterns.

17. Byng

Creative Director at CIVIC SQUARE, Organiser of Brum Zine Fest.

My submission features the phrase ‘Open To All’ in the most commonly spoken languages in Birmingham; English, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Polish and Chinese, because I think the creativity of our city is found in the many stories of the people who call it home; a plurality that I’d love to see better represented in our city’s creative sector(s), platforms and leadership.

The colourful palette brought to mind what it means to see colour differently, and I was keento draw upon the visual effect of an Ishihara test; circular colour perception tests made up of dots, with numbers or shapes visible to some people, but not others. In this colour version of the design the phrase in English sinks into the background, simulating the effect of colourblindness, but there is also a colouring sheet version to be filled with your chosen colours, so you can decide which layers you’d like to bring forward into view and which to set back.

These ideas come together to represent that, whilst creativity in our city may appear to be open and inclusive, there are many systemic and invisible barriers to what it means to access creative spaces, tools, networks and opportunities. I believe how we make those visible, interact with them courageously, playfully and openly, and seek to design beyond our own lived experiences with and for many people is an important role and responsibility for us as designers.

18. Cairo Hamilton

A problem solver, curious thinker, and integrated designer. I work across Graphic, Motion & UI Design creating simple design solutions to complex problems.

Birmingham; a British city abound with juxtaposition. Its striking architecture echos its story, with rich layers of history and culture sandwiched between chaos and creativity. Despite its disparities, many brummies do have something in common: a typical conversational exchange often had with a non-native. This piece seeks to capture this interaction which also stylistically reflects my personal perception of the city’s aesthetic.

19. Callum Barnes

Callum is an experienced graphic and motion designer who founded DONTFRET, a design and video production team providing art direction and content creation for respected brands and talent.

Passionate about understanding people, cultural nuance and its importance as a visual language, Cal created and continues to lead BABMAG, a now respected culture platform in the Midlands which has grown into a sizeable, online team of creative thinkers, writers and artists.

The creative community has the ability to set the pace and tone of a city in many ways, and this typographic setup aims to not only celebrate this but to also remind fellow creatives of the power they behold.

Aiming to encapsulate the cities energy through static motion and fluidity, the artwork gives a strong nod to the city’s long standing motto ‘Forward’ and better still, steals/borrows the title of a UK classic from Mike Skinner and The Streets.

20. Charlotte Banks

I’m an Art Director with a love for food, film and footwear. I always try to bring bright colours into my work (so this is the perfect year for me to be involved with the exhibition – thank you BDF!). I’m a born and bred Brummie, and I’m finding that my love for the city grows the older I get.

During the 2020 lockdown I started making greeting cards for Birmingham folk, inspired by our famous dialect.

My artwork is inspired by the shapes and patterns found in the architecture and graffiti around the city. I enjoyed experimenting with colours and finding the moments where they combine and hard edges begin to disappear. It felt like a great metaphor for the city.”

21. Charlotte Jenkins

Hello! I’m Charlotte, and I am a recent Illustration graduate based in Birmingham. My work is fuelled by narrative and explores colour, characters and interactivity within each piece. I like to use a combination of traditional methods to create my work – including everything from printmaking to pencil work…and then compile and retouch digitally! To keep up with my latest work, feel free to follow my Instagram: @jenkoandco

With this piece, I really wanted to highlight the creative fun in Birmingham, and put my own spin on a usual ‘map’ of the city. Feel free to roll a dice, and play along!

22. Cherie Kwok

British Born Chinese illustrator based in Birmingham. My visual language is inspired by my experiences of growing up in Hong Kong and the UK. I enjoy illustrating topics such as cultural identity, diversity, mental health, and wellbeing.

This piece celebrates Pak Ming Cantonese Opera, a group that my Grandfather is a part of. When I was younger, I remember being amazed by the performances, the lights, the music, and the joy I felt being able to watch them do what they love. I have fond memories of hearing my grandfather singing and practicing in his room for shows. The creativity in the ornate and intricate costumes, the beautiful and bold makeup, and the vivid colours are some of my favourite aspects of their performances.

23 .Chris Day

I’m a designer and illustrator from Lichfield who studied at BCU and since gone on to work with global brands – then set up my own business 5 years ago. Aside from supporting leading Midlands based businesses with marketing and design, my passion & hobby is creating artwork in my free time.

An eclectic burst of distinctive motifs, symbols and colours inspired by Birmingham’s canal heritage

24. Common Curiosity

Common Curiosity is a multi-disciplinary graphic design studio headed up by Paul Felton and Alex Woolley. Specialising in brand identity, print and spaces, we strive for compelling, engaging design that’s beautifully crafted and grounded in reason.

Birmingham is a confluence of diverse cultures, backgrounds, ideas and trades. A complex tapestry, with beauty born from its brutalism. A colourful interpretation of Birmingham’s iconic Spaghetti Junction forms the perfect abstraction of the city’s intertwined diversity.

25. David Henshaw

David Henshaw is a Birmingham based designer specialising in identity, print and illustration with a particular focus on clever design solutions rooted in ideas.

‘Eyes On Birmingham’ is a celebration of the shape and form of iconic Birmingham landmarks, with some googly eyes thrown in for good measure.

26. Ellie Hunter

I am really inspired by nature, the body and spirituality. I predominantly work with lino print but have recently been experimenting more with digital drawing. My drawings embody ideas of feminism and protecting the planet which are things I feel are very important and need to be shared more.

Cosmic creation is a digital drawing depicting a pair of opened hands. I use my hands in both lino printing and drawing, for me hands are a perfect symbol of creativity because they allow us to create our work. I also wanted to include plants with in my piece to represent creative growth.

27. Emily Caplan

A print loving, type enthusiast with an unhealthy obsession with magazines, Emily is a Midlands based Graphic Designer and co-founder of We Are Outspoken — a community for like-minded kick-ass women in the early stages of their career.

Inspired by the spaces that make Brum, Brum. Each letter is a nod to a unique building, or area, that makes up our Creative City. See if you can spot Digbeth’s quirky architecture, the canals and our statement Selfridges building. Each letter comes together to showcase our diverse range of architecture and represents the landscapes that we know and love.

28. Emily Jeffrey

Hey there! My name is Emily, I am a narrative/comic illustrator and graduate from Birmingham City University, who is based in the west Midlands. My work takes a lot of inspiration from things such as myth/legends, demons, and video games. If you want to contact me feel free to do so on any of my social medias.

I decided to focus this piece on women in the creative industry, as a woman myself I sometimes notice a lack of female representation in certain aspects of the arts. Therefore, I created this to celebrate and appreciate all the cool creative women in the west midlands.

29. Esme Stillaway

Newly graduated illustrator, lover of block colours, wiggly shapes and making the everyday interesting.

As a non-brummie moving to Birmingham four years ago, the first thing I loved was the friendliness of the accent and the word “Bab”, with this piece I tried to visualise the comfort of the famous accent.

30. Farah Girach

I am a third year Graphic Communication student at Birmingham City University currently based in Leicester. I specialise in editorial and branding design and absolutely love pattern making and digital collages.

I commonly use Procreate to compose playful designs which has enabled me to be imaginative and construct patterns that are part of my style. An example of this is the piece I’ve created ‘Colour Play’. I decided to freehand patterns digitally which was inspired by the streets of Digbeth, and some of the landmarks featured in Birmingham, particularly the rings of The Library of Birmingham. I focused on using a limit of 4 to 5 colours to bring out the patterns, in result appearing bold and eye catching.

31. Foka Wolf

Foka Wolf is an artist that works between the realms of misinformation and folk art.

I like how the “city of a thousand trades” has now changed to the “city of a thousand services”. Trades are dying out but the service industry thrives. I thought my fake posters highlight this perfectly as they are attached to a fake call centre. My thumb represents a feeling of “I am f**ked, but I am OK” mentality which I think helps people through.

32. Folk Like These

Folk Like these is a cafe, shop and workshop space in Moseley and puts creativity at its centre. We wanted to make a space that could inspire, teach and motivate you to have creativity everyday.

Designed by one half of Folk Like These, the inspiration for this piece came from thinking about ideas around the creative process and turning that into a ‘living’ or ‘career’. Birmingham has a wealth of creative people both professionally and as hobbyists, contributing to the culture and atmosphere of the city.

33. Gareth Davies

Gareth is a designer masquerading as a strategist, with aspirations of being a design writer. Born, although not quite bred, in Birmingham he’s been here longer than anywhere else so is as close to being a Brummie as you can be without properly being one. Meaning he will forever dislike Birmingham’s limiting moniker “Second City”.

Inspired by the creativity and ingenuity of the Community Orchards across Birmingham this artwork is specifically based on the foraging woodland near Hazelwell Park, Stirchley. Creativity can often be thought of as only a human trait but the combination of creativity, community and imagination demonstrated by the cooperation of people and nature here, is not only exciting but full of optimism for a better tomorrow.

34. Gaz Burns

Gaz is a multi-disciplinary creative, creating meaningful design solutions and experiences for brands and audiences. Disciplines include brand identity, art direction, editorial and animation. He’s currently working at HDY agency in the heart of Digbeth.

A thank you to a routine that helped me stay sane and creative over the past year. Every morning I would run along the Soho loop, this is where I found a new love for running and being alone with my thoughts first thing in the morning. It’s never been about the distance or time, it’s more about the action and commitment which is important to me as it has had a huge positive impact on my mental health.

35. Grace Tomlinson

Hello! I’m a multidisciplinary creative based in Birmingham. My creative practice consists of brand identity, interior design, styling, up-cycling, packaging design and illustration. I’m enthusiastic about making well-considered, timeless and meaningful design.

For my poster I wanted to explore my own perspective of Birmingham as a Creative City. I also wished to highlight the incredible and thriving creative community we have here in Brum. Through illustration I have featured buildings, items, collectives and all sorts of things which have been part of my creative journey here. The words reference old National Rail posters advertising Birmingham. The words are still just as relevant today and sum up, to me, how it feels to be part of the creative community in Birmingham. Yellow was the only colour I chose to use because Brum has always been a positive and hopeful place for me, full of energy, inspiration and warmth from the people, especially within the creative scene.

36. Hannah Parkes

Hannah is an artist, printmaker and illustrator, born in Birmingham, UK. She studied Fine Art at Coventry University, gaining her bachelor’s degree in 2016. Her creative practice has undergone significant changes since graduating from university. What began as a fascination for real world urban architecture has morphed into a desire to create an imaginary world of architecture and nature. This change was propelled by the events of 2020 that required all of us to change how we live, and adapt to a new world. Using techniques in colour and composition she becomes the architect and creates scenes for the viewer to lose themselves in.

‘IN THIS CITY’ is a semi-surreal depiction of an alternate side to Birmingham. A constructed reality that transcends fixed space and time. The use of light and shade portrays a sense of lingering twilight, aiding the narrative of an otherworldly atmosphere. By combining architectural and figurative elements it represents a wider appreciation of the lesser known iconic ‘landmarks’ that make up the city; diverse cultures, music, housing, and the people.

37. Hapico

I’m Liam Bevin, a 3D Designer, based in the Jewellery Quarter, who loves to express emotions through the simplicity of shapes, texture and light.

Spending a lot of time indoors over the past year has made focusing on my own work a bit of a challenge. One way that I have been able to help keep motivated is by treating myself to good food from local restaurants, with a recent favourite being Otto Pizza! My piece highlights the experience of ordering my food, the short walk
to collect the pizza, and the feeling of eating it. The adventure is always lovely, and I wanted to share that with everyone.

38. Helen Wheeler

Helen has been working as a commercially successful artist for the last 20 years, and is Course Director of BA Illustration at Birmingham City University. Her work is mainly narrative illustration, but also spans into animation and surface pattern design. She is always trying out a new process, and is currently loving the sense of fun that can be achieved by combining her drawings with collage elements, as you can see from her BDF submission!

My interpretation of ‘The Creative City’ stems from my current position as Course Director for BA Illustration at BCU, and represents my lovely students. They are a bunch of creative gems, and nothing gives me more pleasure than watching them grow; as people, as creatives, and as they join the wider creative community in Birmingham. They inspire me every single day, and never fail to surprise me with their fresh ideas and confidence. Helping them connect to an amazing range of creative people, and organisations, within the city is our absolute pleasure within the illustration team. How better to represent them being part of our amazing city, than as the coolest birds in Brum??

39. Ian Jones

I work as a designer, mostly in the digital space, but I often experiment with imagery, illustration and technology to bring ideas to life.

Thinking about my own childhood in Birmingham, creativity had a lot of different meanings to me, long before I had the luxury of having ‘creative’ in my job description. The city presents many barriers, some physical, others metaphorical, but all needing a creative mind to overcome.

40. Imbue

Creating art for over 10 years, Imbue’s work is exhibited and collected around the world. The artist has had solo and group exhibitions in London, Birmingham, Brighton, Paris and Osaka.

His work has been featured on blogs and publications including Forbes, The Independent, The Times and French/German TV channel ARTE.

Designed to mimic the iconic plastic toy soldier originally crouching with a bazooka. The weapon has been replaced with a camera, a powerful device for spreading ideas, both good and bad. This image is based on a set of 3 new limited edition ‘Information Warfare’ sculptures.

41. Irish Nicole T. Abenoja

I am a playful graphic designer. I enjoy alternative visual art and tend to be experimental in my creative practice.

The “Bull & Brum” piece is this fun and quirky visual interpretation of the Birmingham Bull. I absolutely love the statue and how it dresses up along with the city.

42. Jen Leem-Bruggen

Jen Leem-Bruggen is a freelance illustrator from London, currently based in Birmingham. Her work is influenced by 20th Century design, nature and travel. Jen combines the use of digital and traditional media, carefully layering colours and textures to create her illustrations.

Inspired by the sparkling hidden gem that lies within the city of Birmingham. The Jewellery Quarter, only 1.07 square kilometre in size, has the largest conurbation of diamond dealers and jewellery retailers in Europe.

43. Jess Webberley

I’m Jess, a Midlands based creative with a passion for making things that visually, or audibly transcend reality. Between the hours of 9am & 5:50pm you can find me working as a UX/UI Designer for e-commerce brands. Outside of those hours, I like to create posters and music. These are not mutually exclusive from one another, and often end up correlating with and influencing each other. I like to create pieces that give the viewer, or listener, the feeling that they are being taken elsewhere. I would probably cite space, architecture, and dreams as my biggest influences.

For my submission, I aimed to include recognisable aspects of Birmingham and combine those with what Birmingham means to me. Within my piece you can see the Birmingham flag, the old library, an ode to the Selfridges building, and of course John Baskerville’s ‘Baskerville’ font in use. Along with the Birmingham imagery, I have included shapes / symbols that relate to my music project ‘Graywave’. The archway containing stairs leading up to a star symbolises the way I see Birmingham and the part it has played in my creative journey.

44. Jim Howells

Jim is a BAFTA winning graphic artist and animator with over 20 years experience in the entertainment industry. Jim works across broadcast television, music video, advertising, interactive and live events. He has held senior creative posts at studios in London, Brighton as well as the BBC.

He is currently a freelance motion graphics artist based in Staffordshire.

For my piece “Architek” I was inspired by the ever changing, diverse architecture of Birmingham city centre. My teenage memories of shopping in the brutal concrete monoliths of the past mix with the multiculltural, forward-thinking ideals that make Birmingham feel like such a modern, vibrant city.

45. Jody Woodhouse

I’m currently a full time Graphic Designer, who studied Illustration with Animation at Manchester School of Art.

My aim with the piece is to pay homage to one of the great creatives that came from this amazing city; JRR Tolkien. With Birmingham being one of Britian’s greenest cities, it’s no wonder he was so inspired by both the natural environment and the many beautiful buildings it offers. Described by Tolkien as the “lost paradise” of his boyhood, I hope to celebrate the beauty in Birmingham’s vast array of green spaces through entwining both, within my illustration.

46. John Williamson

I’m a Black Country-based graphic designer specialising in all areas of branding and design for print. I have been a full-time freelance designer since 2013 after spending three years designing in-house for one of the UK’s leading construction companies, where I developed my corporate experience. As my freelance role progressed, I found myself specialising in projects for the music industry, working with bands, record labels, venues and promoters. Whilst the industry plays a key in my design work, I’m not all about music. I also work with a vast range of clients from small independent businesses to large commercial companies, community organisations and the education sector, creating bespoke designs for both print and digital platforms.

I’ve missed regularly working with bands and artists since the pandemic caused the live music industry to come to a halt. Designing gig posters has always been one of my favourite types of project to work on, as I enjoy having the complete creative freedom to explore new design techniques and concepts. As the brief for this exhibition was quite open, I chose to treat it like a gig poster. My finished design balances darker imagery and bright colours, which is influenced by my interest in psychedelic styles and surreal imagery often used within alternative music.

47. Jonny McGarry

Coventry based Illustrator/Printmaker specialising in lino printing, exploring portraiture, typography, and Narrative inspired by pop culture.

This piece is about the missing case of the famous Bull Ring Bulls, They once stood guard at Birmingham’s famous 1960’s Bull Ring Shopping Centre but now they have vanished. The illustration is based on Artist Trewin Copplestone’s design of the classic Bull. I wanted to communicate the feeling of a faded memory that you try to hang on to. Birmingham has never stopped changing but there are certain elements of the city that hasn’t, this piece represents that nostalgic look back on Birmingham. Although Some of its pieces are lost but the love will always remain.

48. Joseph Frascina

Joseph Frascina is a Graphic Artist, Designer and Visiting Lecturer at Birmingham City University. Joseph’s work intersects with the disciplines of music and performance, working extensively as a graphic artist and designer alongside record labels and musical artists. His design approaches have a strong DIY ethic and style, exploring limitation as powerful creative tool through embracing the tactility, imperfection and often-accidental quality of analogue processes and obsolete technologies.

A statue of King Kong by Nicholas Monro was commissioned in 1972 for display in Manzoni Gardens in The Bull Ring in the centre of Birmingham. Like countless other structures and spaces of social and cultural value, it was rejected by the city and removed. This work, with its image of King Kong and the names of structures deleted from the city asks why cultural amnesia and erasure seems to be so much a part of the city’s history and its present. We must be active in the preservation of structures and spaces of social and cultural importance such as the Kenneth Budd Horsefair mosaic at Holloway Circus that are under threat of deconstruction so that the future of our creative city is not us not severed from its own past.

49. Josh Cutts

I’m Josh Cutts, a multi-disciplined graphic designer and artist based in the West Midlands. I am a lover of collage, all things tangible, photography & music and I’m probably working on something that is mishing all these things together as you read. I work at Notepad Studio, and freelance on the side for projects I like and think are weird 🙂

For this project (or poster) I wanted to show my view of Birmingham. Its a place I find it very easy to be creative in & I’ve always loved this city and the people in it, so I wanted to make something personal, that took inspiration from my favourite places in Brum. I decided to collect textures from all of my favourite places the city (using coloured crayons and my sketch book); there’s textures from a Sphinx at victoria square, the cracked pavement outside Nightingales, the Door to COW, A lampost next to Cherry Reds and tons of unused ones from around Digbeth. These are all places that are very special to me and I really enjoyed taking something physical from those areas and turning them into a piece. The fun facts around the edges and the size of everything help add to this feeling of tightness, and makes the piece look a bit croweded, which is exactly how I think B’ham is most the time.

The typeface, is an edited version of Baskerville (which needs no intro as a star brummie typeface) that takes inspo from letter presses and helps add to the over all physical vibe of the piece.

50. Justin Sola

I work as an illustrator and artist. Some of my work consists of trend based iconic subjects, while others are personal explorations converted into visual ideas. My style takes inspiration from neo futuristic architecture/cyber punk/sci-fi combined with layers of painted textures. I work heavily in the entertainment sector of design, creating illustration work for gaming companies and TV/film for licensing and key art development. I work with most mediums including acrylics, spray paint, inks and digital media.

My piece celebrates the humble character of Birmingham in the form of one of our greatest musicians.. Ozzy Osbourne. Nick named ́The Prince of Darkness ́, Ozzy is the perfect example of the creative genius that Birmingham has to offer. Darkness in character, bursting with colour in creativity!

51. Kat Tromans

Kat Tromans is a Freelance Illustrator & Graphic Designer who lives and works locally to Birmingham. After working in permanent positions in design agencies she moved to becoming a freelancer
and enjoys the varied work that it brings. She works on a diverse range of projects, varying from illustrated campaigns, branding and packaging, and also works as an independent Illustrator working in a signature watercolour style. She has worked internationally with lifestyle, retail and education clients. Some of her clients include Seasalt Cornwall, Busy Bees Nurseries and Greene King.

I chose to focus on the famous slogan that is often associated with Birmingham ‘The workshop of the world.’ Birmingham was once the hub of the industrial revolution and it has many innovative inventions to be proud of. I even found out a few myself doing this piece that I wasn’t aware of that originated here!

52. Keith Dodds

Keith Dodds is a designer, of sorts, who’s lived and worked in the West Midlands since 2007.

For me, the most interesting bits of cities – the places, people and things that make them ‘creative’ – are often the things people in charge want to get rid of as quickly as possible. Even while they’re being held up as examples of success they’re priced out of spaces and places to make things, have their funding for education and research slashed, and are pushed to the margins to make way for more variations on the same old thing.

53. Kieran Glennon

Kieran Glennon is an Artist/Illustrator based in the centre of Birmingham. He draws silly pictures, mocks social norms and loves a bit of lettering. He really loves doing it and as a result, has somehow turned it in to his job..

Well, every time someone comes to visit me in Birmingham from else where, this is what they say. They are always so pleasantly surprised. They are right! It is a f***ing cool place!

54. Kristian Jones

Kristian Jones is a self-taught freelance artist and illustrator who is based in Birmingham. Jones’ works can be seen in magazines, clothing ranges and various bands and club nights on the Birmingham music scene, crafting posters and artwork of an alternative nature. He also forms part of the incredible collective Brothers of the Stripe, a collection of illustrators, graphic designers and image makers from all over the UK. Jones’ work depicts our relationship with the modern world in a surreal and twisted form to highlight the problems with modern day living, preying on the innocence of childhood imagination, surreal worlds and fictional creatures.

We are lost fragments in a simulation of a serene planet. Forgetting about ourselves to come together, that has always been the great hope of being human. It is time to pay attention, maintain a sense of wonder that is not separate from wonder and joy. Unfolding now, magic is a space for dreams of humanity. We are the place for this. Please send your warmth and your wonder, your inspiration and wisdom. If we all do this, we are no longer a solitary planet of old men, but are a place for peace and wonder. Open a door. (the text was generated using a GPT2 Ai and a custom prompt from the artist).

55. Lindsay Baker

Lindsay Baker is an independent graphic designer working from her studio Sister Minor Design in Wolverhampton. She specialises in brand strategy, visual identity, print and digital design working with clients in culture, community, education and the arts.

Birmingham, Wolverhampton and the Black Country are home to a vast melting pot of cultures and ethnicities and as a result there are over 140 different languages and dialects spoken around our region. This piece takes inspiration from the beautiful letter forms within the alphabets of some of these languages, layered so that they intertwine and unite to celebrate our historically rich diversity.

56. Lisa Barrett

Lisa Barrett is an independent graphic designer and member of design collective Life+Soul. She also proudly co-runs Ladies Wine & Design the Birmingham Chapter.

‘It runs in our veins here’ was inspired by the idea that creativity in all its forms is the lifeblood of a city. I’ve always felt inspired that Birmingham was founded on resilience, our industrious past makes us determined problem solvers, we don’t boast, but quietly within us we have a tenacity and vision to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in.

Creativity allows us to solve problems big and small, to survive and regenerate, rebuild and repurpose, it changes lives, provokes thought, creates beauty, inspires culture, changes fashion – it keeps a city alive.

57. Lou Chorley

Hi! My name is Lou, Creative Director, and fiercely proud Brummie. Having worked for creative agencies across the Midlands for over 20 years, 2 years ago I made a leap of faith and joined my business partner to set up our own agency, Folk ( We work on the premise of doing good work with good people (so far, so good!), and Folk enables me to fully flex my love for clever concepts and well-thought-out design.

What the?…It’s a kaleidoscope! Containing the letters BRUM, which are scaled, rotated, cropped and mirrored to represent some of my favourite things about our city*, with just a slight twist there is always something new (or old) waiting to be discovered. A playful reminder that now, more than ever before, it’s hugely important that we support and recommend all of the great places Birmingham has to offer, so get out there and WIGGLE YOUR BRUM! *Today I’m wiggling our fantastic food offering, our literary history, our musicians, our parks and the kid-hearted Brummie spirit!

58. Lucky Pablo

We are Ally Standing & Jane Anderson, a.k.a Lucky Pablo, a creative duo based in Birmingham. We currently live and work in the Jewellery Quarter. We started this project back at the start of the first COVID lockdown in March 2020. The events which were unfolding around us at the time were troubling to say the least, and we needed something to take our mind off things. A few nights spent solidly doodling compositions made up of simple shapes and forms soon turned into smething of an obsession for us, and not long after that Lucky Pablo was born. Since then, we’ve been trying to spread some visual joy through our playful and colourful designs.

Our submission for BDF’s Creative City brief is a new illustration entitled Art & Industry which celebrates aspects of the special place we call home. Birmingham has always been a hotbed of creativity and innovation, and our design pays homage to what the city has become known for. As well as some of our recognisable motifs, you’ll see references to jewellery-making, architecture, invention, music, and of course, the flourishing art & design scene itself.

59. Luke Sewell

I am a linocut printmaker based in North Birmingham making thoughtful and playful work focused on craft, process, place and storytelling.

St. Barnabus Church on Erdington High Street is a Grade II-listed building completed in 1823 to a design by Thomas Rickman. It has these faces on the outside of it – they’re technically not gargoyles but ‘corbel heads’ in case you’re feeling pedantic. In the almost 200 years since its completion St Barnabus has been through it – it was gutted by a fire in 2007 that destroyed all but one of its 16 stained glass windows. The corbel folk are weathered enough to look almost genuinely medieval instead of Gothic Revival.

Translated into these simple relief carvings they retain a nobility whilst looking almost leprous, a reminder of the afflicted and marginal places Christianity originally occupied and grew from. “Displayed in colours from BDF’s vibrant palette for this exhibition, they also call to mind (despite the significant scepticism of outsiders) the lively and creative spirit of Erdington and the Second City.”

60. Luke Skinner

Luke Skinner has always been a prolific doodler. What started as cartoons and bubble writing stuck to my Mum’s office wall became a lifelong passion for creativity. He specialises in branding and illustration and is most happy when he can combine the two. He takes influences from everywhere and anywhere, from animation, to graffiti, to mid-century advertising and has worked with clients all over the UK and Europe as well as the US and UAE. He lives near Birmingham with his wife Aimee and his St. Bernard Honey. He is still a prolific doodler.

I grew up in Stourbridge, so whilst I’m not a true Brummie, I am Brummie adjacent. Last year I returned to the Midlands after 10 years away which had me reminiscing about all the things I enjoyed growing up in the here. I believe that as creative people we’re influenced by the things around us, particularly in our formative years, whether we know it or not. For me, growing up here has given me a wealth of experiences and memories, whether it was watching the Gladiators at the NIA, eating
a yearly, giant hot dog at the Christmas market or buying my wife’s engagement ring at the Jewellery Quarter. I hope there’s some other millennial Midlanders out there that this piece resonates with, that shared some of those experiences.

61. Luke Tonge

Luke Tonge is a graphic designer, lecturer, and events wrangler in Brum. He specialises in identity & editorial work for brands, agencies and charities. He’s also a visiting lecturer at BCU and co-director of Birmingham Design, the organisation responsible for BDF & other fun things. He wears shorts. He loves ice-cream. He thinks you’re awesome! 🙂

‘The Power in the Midlands’ is a found-phrase from a smelly old type specimen for The Birmingham Post and Mail, which perfectly sums up how i’ve come to see Birmingham. My poster is a celebration of this creative city past and present, composed by scanning in and editing Brum related ephemera.

62. Luke Waller

Luke Waller is an award-winning British illustrator, animator and lecturer working across the fields of editorial, commercial, advertising and publishing. With clients spanning the globe, Luke works regularly in the editorial sector, with clients such as The Financial Times and Politico Europe.

Since completing his MA in Visual Communication in 2018, Luke has focused much more on creating projects and undertaking collaborations which challenge not only the way we think about the world today, but how we see it in the future.

When thinking about the theme of this exhibition, The Creative City, I wanted to offer something that on the surface speaks of the city’s resilience, its evolving nature and how that has directly affected the creativity of its inhabitants. It is, however, very important to me that this image goes further than that; I wanted the image to speak about loneliness and isolation. I wanted it to reflect us, as a society, as we come out of a pandemic. More than that, it needed to touch on the overwhelming weight of a history that cannot be evaded.

Although this image does not directly show reference to it, the themes I chose to focus on were the inescapable subjects of empire, conquest, nationhood, and nationalism. At first glance, the androgynous stone carving seems innocent and innocuous, but it is more than just a piece of architecture from a time long passed: it’s a symbol. It represents power, wealth, empire and with that, repression, slavery, racism, and genocide. This is the unavoidable truth we must face up to; as the second largest city, Birmingham played its part in all the above.

Once we start to acknowledge the past, we can start to talk about how we move forward and what forward looks like. The final two frames of the artwork are overwhelmingly positive – they hint towards a renewed sense of community and hope, whatever that looks like for each of us.

63. Mack Stevens

Graphic Designer born, bred & educated in the Midlands. With a passion for branding, typography and texture I currently work within the awesome in-house creative team at Gymshark.

A weird blend of my pride for Birmingham and watching my brother grow up influenced this approach. My Brother is the middle child, he’s always had to battle that stereotype and do that bit more to get noticed, even under our own roof. This reminded me of Brum. The second city so often overlooked and literally caught in-between London and the Northern cities. Anyone reading this can fill the gaps but we all know you scratch the surface and you’ll discover so much more.

The design is informed by Birmingham with typography taken from sign writing found on Fazeley Street, the grad is reminiscent of the skyline at dusk and directed in a Forward motion to subtly nod towards our motto.

64. Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy is a Birmingham-born artist, designer and musician. He has worked as a graphic designer since 1995 and independently for the last 17 years running his studio Alongside his design practice Mark makes collage artworks ( – sometimes digital but mostly analogue – and has exhibited nationally and internationally. In recent years he has been exploring large-scale projection as a mode of showing work in the public realm. He makes music with the band Health & Efficiency.

Mark’s piece ‘centred’ combines fragmented found images to create a dreamlike technicolour image. A proud Brummie, Mark loves how the city’s creative scene has evolved over time.
In Birmingham, the scenes mix: art feeds into music, design into fashion, food into environments and there are myriad variations that spring from these dynamic interconnections. He wholeheartedly advocates the Brummie qualities of humour, tenacity and a down-to-earth attitude and the wonderful creativity that springs from these ways. There is a bull, but also no bull…

65. Martin Donnelly

Birmingham based creative and BCU educator with over 23 years experience in the industry.

Raised in the Middle is an experimental exploration of form and type. The message reflects his sense of loyalty to a city that is very much in his blood and huge influence on his work. The artwork also showcases a bespoke typeface created for the piece called Concrete Evidence Condensed.

66. Mattie Lynch

Mattie is an Irish designer and illustrator fighting the good fight in Birmingham.

The spotlight is always put on London or Manchester when it comes to creative cities in the UK. Birmingham has a ton of creativity to it but always goes under the radar – this design highlights the cities, its quirks and some of the creative industries that come out of it.

67. Meg Hickman

I would describe myself as a graphic artist who hybridises analogue and digital media, I am interested in the unique textures created when using analogue media. I’m currently working as a junior graphic designer at Birmingham City FC. During my time at university I was co-director of BCU Print Club and led collage and Risograph printing workshop sessions with students at BCU and outside colleges.

For my piece I hybridised analogue and digital media, using a range of mixed media including illustration, screen-printing, Letraset and Risograph printing, then manipulated it and put it together digitally. I was inspired by Pop Art for this piece and wanted to create a strong typographic presence by using the traditional Bird’s custard can, the link to the theme Creative City comes from the can and it’s link to the Custard Factory which is a creative hub in Birmingham.

68. Mengxia Liu

Liu Mengxia practice focuses on developing reportage illustration and perspective drawing which explores the relationship between illustrative representation and narrative. Using a visual ethnographic approach, my method is a tool which gives a voice to under-represented communities. My work is illustrative in form and strives to create new approaches to representational practice that reflect the complexities of the multicultural world in which we live. In essence, my work articulates a relationship between the visual world and the complex stories of communities.

This work is based on a commission from The Hive Jewellery Quarter. They are a community of makers in an old historic building. It always nice to see the creative community hidden in the old buildings behind the modern Birmingham. The work
depicts the shapes of the old and new buildings around Birmingham.

69. Michelle Turton

Michelle Turton is an illustrator, painter, and surface designer. Working across analogue and digital illustration, her colourful, bright illustrations can have been commissioned for publishing, editorial illustration, murals and prints for a growing list of clients.

Greatly influenced by her Peruvian heritage and travels around Japan, Cuba, and South America, she often draws on her experiences, taking inspiration from local culture, landmarks and people and souvenirs she picks up on her travels. Her extended time in Andalucía on Spain’s southern coast recently inspired a new collection of paintings and sketches.

She has exhibited her work across the UK & Europe, participating in events curated by Ladies Wine Design, Pictoplasma, Inkygoodness & AOI, in addition to painting numerous bespoke sculptures for art trails The Big Sleuth (Birmingham, 2018) and Elmer’s Big Art Parades across the UK, raising over £10,000 for charity.

Her clients include London Midland, Marketing Week, The Emma Press, Birmingham City Council, Eye Candy Festival and Wild in Art. She is also one of the founding members of Inkygoodness, a global creative and artist community.

The iconic 20ft King Kong statue by Nichols Monro was commissioned in 1972 for display in the Manzoni Gardens in The Bull Ring. Big, bold and beautiful; King Kong has both delighted and confused audiences alike. King Kong has been painted many colours, stood for many different things, has travelled the UK and like Birmingham is bold and beautiful.

70. Nathan Chan

Wannabe illustrator from Birmingham now living in sunny Lichfield.

My piece is called ‘Mano-a-Mano’ which depicts two deadly creatures in confrontation. It’s a symbol of the plethora of creative talent we have within our city and the fierce competition (not between each other) to create and stand out. Everyone is fighting to be the best they can.

71. Neeraj Kainth

Neeraj Kainth is a Graphic Designer working across a range of disciplines such as brand identity, print, editorial and experimental design. Neeraj is a recent graduate of Birmingham City University and is the host for Fuse Birmingham.

This poster is inspired by my childhood car journeys with my Grandfather. He used to be a bus conductor during the 1970s, and he’d describe the various areas he went through during his journeys. The type is reminiscent of the classic destination roller blinds seen on the front of the old buses in the West Midlands.

72. Niyran Gill

A Illustrator & Designer with a love for all things digital, collage and texture.

Pixel Perfect was inspired by the idea that we tend not to show our true emotions online, instead we opt to put a smile on and present the best version of ourselves. Our ‘digital’ self.

73. Old Bort

Old Bort (aka Emily Doyle) is a multidisciplinary artist based in the Jewellery Quarter. She works across a variety of traditional media: paint, pencil, ink, and anything else she can get her hands on. She’s a dedicated musician, performing in country- noir trio The Devil and Saint Joseph. Most recently she’s been working alongside the Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project to produce a series of stop motion video pieces, bringing the atmosphere of the cemeteries into the viewers’ homes to mark the changing seasons.

The brief for The Creative City mentioned that submissions could be as political, personal, or confrontational as we want, but in the end I decided to go for a statement that no one can disagree with. Let’s make live music safe for performers, crowds and venue staff, in Birmingham and beyond.

74. Oliver Wells

A visual communicator exploring the relationship between analogue and digital design practices and through upcoming masters studies, I am keen to continue to push how these methods can be applied to visual language systems and brand identity.’

The piece portrays the constant ascent and ‘rise’ that Birmingham finds itself in, a city in constant development and an ever-changing state.’


Tamsyn Preedy is a Brum based visual artist who works at Provide and is also course leader of Graphic Design at Matthew Boulton College. Her personal practice, which is ran under the pseudonym PET CLUB; focuses on the importance of incorporating childhood imagination into both serious and playful work. She does this across multiple mediums including practical and digital sculpture, print, animation, and illustration.

I always loved playtime, one of my favourite memories of growing up in Birmingham was at primary school when we had a teddy bears picnic. I often find myself looking back to this time aiming to maintain that sense of childhood imagination, with the goal of work not feeling like work. This carefree enjoyment of play and imagination is often lost as we grow up and as Sir Ken Robinson suggested “we don’t grow into creativity; we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it” I hope to avoid that at all costs while also helping others to avoid it as well!

76. Pheeb Robinson

Pheeb is an illustrator, animator and mural maker based in the Jewellery Quarter.

Birmingham is what I love. It inspires my work and my way of living, so why wouldn’t it make me feel creative?

This city supports a lifestyle which fuels my inspiration everyday. I love independent living, I love food and coffee, I love street art, old buildings with character, and hanging out in parks with my friends.

Brum’s unique personality provides a foundation for creatives like me. It gives us the chance to be individual, support each other and create freely. More importantly, Birmingham encourages us to be creative by just giving us a place to exist.

This submission is inspired by how I feel in ‘The Creative City’

77. Pickle Illustration

Pickle Illustration is a creative design agency based in The Midlands formed by Lauren Jefferis and Olivia Collins. Our aim is to develop creative ways of connecting people. We create bespoke artwork for public areas with an aim of turning spaces into places, building community and a sense of belonging. We also bring more personality to communications whether this be through bespoke animations, promotional material or illustration for branding.

‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ is inspired by
the warm welcome we have felt from the creative community when deciding to move to Birmingham. We wanted to showcase the strong collaborative attitude behind the projects run throughout the city as the characters in our illustration work together to create the Birmingham buzz.

78. Poppy Small

An illustrator from Birmingham with a love for all things cute and bizarre. I studied illustration at BCU and have exhibited my bright artwork at places such as Gallery 1988, LA and on my own Moonpig cards. Ranging between portraits, animations and illustrations, my work has a focus n using fun vibrant colours and dreamy textures. A lot of my subjects are pop culture/music, food, animals and things that make me laugh! I create my art using a mix of markers, pencils, paints, paper and a drawing tablet.

Inspired by the colourful LGBTQ+ community of Birmingham, I wanted to turn the iconic Floozie into a rainbow drag icon, complete with obligatory pigeons. With some of the Midlands’ very own queens becoming more well known in recent years and with gay village being my favourite place in town for a safe and groovy night out, it felt right to create a nod in this direction as I feel our LGBTQ+ culture is thriving so much from louder and bolder acts of support, love, and pride.

79. Raj Dhunna

Raj is an Illustrator/ Image maker who focuses on mark making, digital and print making techniques for his practice. Producing imagery about sports, lifestyle, culture and work that portrays a loose narrative in the image. As well as illustrating, he also works as digital designer.

‘Creative city’ is a direct response to this festival, encapsulating the feeling of creativity with a big burst of colour. We can make anything we want, and everybody is capable of creating something they’re proud of. Making the ordinary less boring, creativity is about seeing the joy in the everyday.

80. Ravnita Rayet

Hey! I’m a UK based illustrator, animator and designer. I specialise in digital illustration, but I love to experiment on canvas with acrylics and can also customise on pretty much anything!

In celebration of colour, “BullCity” is a digital illustration representing the city of Birmingham. The community, the pride, the ‘city of 1000 trades’. Here’s the second city, with a futuristic twist.

81. Rebecca Howson

Beck Howson is a designer, researcher, and educator in typography and print practice. Beck is the founder and director of Print Club Birmingham, an experimental print workshop that sees connections and collaborations with friends and colleagues in the industry. Ph.D. research investigates traditional print and typography processes such as letterpress printing, rub down type and how this may be applied in contemporary typographic and teaching practices.

We are Brum is an exploration of what it means to be in a vibrant creative community, using rub down type, a traditional graphic design process. A presentation of a manifesto through experimental typographic techniques to form a discussion between our rich design histories and the exciting contemporary landscape, how the legacies of the past can inform us now.

82. Robert Lockley

Midlands born multidisciplinary designer with 10+ years experience in brand, screen and print. Formally in-house for a high street retailer, currently working with the pioneering team at Civic Square.

To celebrate the Floozies return to her former glory I decided she needed a night on the town. This is her wined, dined and ready for summer.

83. Roots

Roots is a Brum based artist, specialising in heavily character based artwork with a love for the weird and wonderful. She works in a variety of mediums depending on the brief and loves bringing her bold style to live art events and competitions.

Inspired by the iconic Brummie bull, Roots created these fun and charming characters to bring a smile to your face and remind you of our Creative City. This piece was created digitally using a combination of tones from the BDF colours, allowing the character to pop straight out of its frame whilst giving the skyline that familiar hazy and industrial vibe.

84. Rosie Clarke

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.

Birmingham in my opinion is a city of inspired visionaries, creative people paving the way for up-and-coming talent in an ever-changing design scene. This piece aims to capture the vibrancy of Brum and the people that call it home.

85. Sarah Bagshaw

Sarah Bagshaw an artist/designer/educator based in Birmingham, UK. She uses a variety of handmade processes, such as drawing, painting, printmaking and collage before taking the work onto the computer and manipulating digitally. The digital aspect is as experimental as the handmade methods used and the work evolves resulting in bold and colourful designs. Sarah’s client list includes Lush Handmade Cosmetics, Anthropologie and 3M and she sells prints, paintings, cards and tea towels via her website (www.sarahbagshaw. com) Sarah has a BA(Hons) in Fine Art (painting) from Falmouth College of Art, an MA in Surface Pattern Design from Birmingham City University and has also worked as an art and design lecturer for many years.

This particular piece was created using photographs on surfaces and textures taken whilst walking around her local area of Kings Heath.

86. Sarah Easter

After Graduating from Birmingham City University in 2019 obtaining a degree in illustration, I was then mentored by illustrator Luke Waller and began freelancing. My illustrations begin as physical sketches that are then outlined with black ink before scanning and colouring each piece digitally, combining my favourites of traditional and contemporary techniques. I blend elements of both abstract and realism, enjoying the challenge of designing successful illustrations within the confines of line work and flat, block colour.

This piece is inspired by the Birmingham’s iconic Floozie in the Jacuzzi water feature. Reimagined as a modern day creative, Flo represents the many artists that help make the city the heart of art in the Midlands. Her tattoos celebrate a handful of the vast number of trades that Birmingham is known for. Creatives bring an abundance of colour, expressionism and free thinking to the city, which is something I’ve tried to capture in just one image. I believe this work is a good example of my own style, highlighting my flair for combining a collection of objects or subjects together to communicate my ideas.

87. Seven 9 Signs

Birmingham based sign writer and visual artist.

This text is taken from the 1854 book ‘The Grainer, Marbler & Sign Writer’s assistant’ by William Sutherland a Birmingham based sign writer who later went on to publish the seminal ‘The Art & Craft of Sign Writing’ in 1889 which became one of the most popular sign writing books of all time.

Casual lettering is the lettering style that first attracted me to sign writing. The letters are built up from as minimal amount of brush strokes as possible, based around a loose set of rules and brush strokes making the variants endless and personal to each sign writer, like a signature. Here’s some of mine that was painted off the tip of a No3 sable quill on a piece of A3 card stock.

88. Shaun Loynds

Full time artist, part time Advertising Art Director, based in Stourbridge. My work is all about the things we hide within ourselves. The thoughts, feelings, prejudices and pain that we keep hidden from the wider world. It is a public display and a spasmodic series of exorcisms of that which is hidden. Everything that each of us does leaves its mark in one way or another and has an effect on those around us and the world we live in.

This collection of pieces represents the hard work, ideas and creativity that have made Birmingham and the West Midlands the vibrant and potent hotbed of creativity that it is. Every person that has ever lived and worked in the region have contributed to making it a truly unique and unbeatable force in the world. Since the 14th century and even before, every individual in the region has made an impression and left their mark.

89. Shiyi Li

Shiyi Li is a director, animator and illustrator. Born in China, she used to study and live in Birmingham for four years, now she based in Beijing, China.

Shiyi is known for her ethereal and surreal visual style, dreamy colors., and poetic narratives. Her artworks and animation have been exhibited throughout the world, including New York, Bangkok, London Short Film Festivals, Biennale International Design Saint-Etienne France, and Beijing Times Arts Museum. Her animation ‘Burn & Soothe’ has been nominated for the Best Animation Award at BFI Future Film Festival 2021, which screened on BFI Player.

This piece is called <Afternoon Drink>. I used to live nearby the Birmingham canal. Every day after work, on my way back home, I can see many people drinking in the pub by the river, and ducks swim by. Sometimes, I wonder what kind of person they are in daily life. Then, I created this lil drawing, each character lives their own life but also has another part of life doing what they passionate about. I think that’s what I like about Birmingham, creative also down to earth.

90. Sleep Sparrow

Visual artist born and bred in the Black Country, now based in Worcester. Creating abstract designs through drawings, paintings and textiles.

Inspired by my roots in the Black Country and the song ‘Black Country Rock’ by David Bowie, I created this drawing that celebrates the creativity born through our dark industrial heritage.

‘Some say the view is crazy
But you may adopt another point of view
So if it’s much too hazy
You can leave my friend and me with fond adieu’

91. Studio Baldwin

Studio Baldwin is the illustration home of Tahgasa Bertram, a Birmingham based illustrator who loves mangoes, murals and good walk in the park.

Above All Else emphasises the diverse mix of creative individuals who help make Birmingham the wonderful city it is. As large amounts of the recognition Birmingham receives is directed towards the landmarks, it’s important to recognise the people who keep the city ticking.

92. Super Freak

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.

Birmingham is a city famous for inventing and manufacturing pretty much everything so in this piece I wanted to show off my invention… Spanky! ‘Build Your Own!’ represents the mentality of all Brummies; in that we aren’t afraid of getting stuck in and using our hands to make new and wacky things. This Build-Your-Own Spanky kit is my visual ode and thank-you to Birmingham – The birthplace of Spanky (and me).

93. Tasia Graham

Tasia Graham explores bold, atmospheric, narrative illustration, using her colourful pallet and fluid, stylised drawing techniques.

Working in both digital format and traditional painting, Tasia explores womanhood, culture, and identity, depicting moods and scenes formed into illustrative storytelling.

For this illustration I wanted to show colour and creativity through digital arts. The woman represents myself breaking into the industry and becoming my own person. I took inspiration from Digbeth, with the abstract style merged into my own style of collage colouring and layering.

94. Ted H Jones

I’m the Creative Services Director over at Keane, a local Brum creative agency, aaand I love to doodle. Always have, always will. I’m also a big fan of cartoons, eating cereal at the wrong time of day and all things Jurassic Park. I’m writing and illustrating a kids’ book right now, and am always up for a quick collab, so come find me on Instagram: @tedhjones

The Floozie was one of the first icons of Birmingham I saw when I moved to the city. She was a pillar of recognition when I got lost trying to find my way around, and over time that became how she worked for me creatively too. Whenever I feel a block building up, I doodle the Flooz and everything just fits – so when it came to reflect The Creative City it had to be her. The little creatures all over her? Various manifestations of creative emotion – which one are you today?

95. Tina Jiwa

Tina Jiwa is an independent brand designer based in Birmingham who specialises in brand identity design and web design. With more than 8 years experience working in multiple design disciplines, she has a strong vision to explore how design can impact the world and how her work, beliefs and passions can bring about meaningful change.

After returning to Birmingham January 2020, I was surprised at how much has changed creatively in the city over the past 8 years and how much LOVE and colour has been injected into this city. For a city that I left because I didn’t like it all that much, I can now say I have found my love for Brum!

96. Tom Woolley

Tom Woolley is a Birmingham-based freelance illustrator. Tom specialises in illustrated maps, 3D diagrams and vector graphics.

Powerhouse Inspired by the work of M.C.Escher and isometric games like Monument Valley, my illustration represents a vibrant City powered by creativity.

97. Tomas Rowell

Tomas Rowell’s work can be characterised as a mutual application of intuitive markings alongside variations of space, colour and form.

Process conquers within the work, acting as an experimentation into the fundamental features of abstraction and removing any external embodiment. The challenge lies in what is not added to the work, bringing construction to a destructive platform of abstraction. Rowell uses the relative white space as a chance to direct the eye and to leave a sense of hypnotic unfamiliarity when persistently viewing the work. Tomas Rowell has continually explored the complexity of art through academic progression. Since graduating from Leeds Arts University in 2014, there has persistently been an exploration into painting’s ability to remove any imitation or possible foreign associations. Rowell works from his studio in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

The spirit of Birmingham is so important to me. The city has such a rich sense of acceptance for all people and walks of life. This idea stayed with me throughout the production of this piece, and was brought to life through the continual explosion of colour within the work. I see Birmingham as a continually growing city and this is no different to the work itself, where I tried to capture the sense of expansion, rotation and movement throughout.

98. Vanessa Mountain

British/Filipino graphic designer and illustrator based in the West Midlands.

BHX Landmarks and Architecture.

99. Window Artists

About us: Anna & Luke started working together in the summer of 2019, designing and installing window artworks for Birmingam’s independent high street businesses. Trading under the name ‘Window Artists’ they later branched out into branding, graphic design and murals, winning some big contracts whilst aiming to use their skills to highlight causes close to their heart and champion the varied communities of this great city.

Arts education is to be slashed by 50% to prioritise ‘high value subjects’. Public campaigns have ridiculed the arts as dispensable ,having little value with worth based only on immediate profit and financial gain (Fatima could quit being a ballerina and get a proper job). The arts are becoming a playground for the rich with Tory policies creating a bottleneck system where only the wealthy and privileged can progress.

‘The Big B’ is a celebration of the visual-arts venues, organisations, collectives, studios and art groups in Birmingham that have started up or continued to exist in defiance of the hostile anti-arts Tory Britain. It is a love letter to those that nurture and encourage marginalised artists and communities. It’s a call to support the venues that exist on the fringes, inhabiting old warehouses and empty shops, many on precarious ground and in line to be torn down and developed into luxury flats. We’ve included 25 references to these and other institutions & festivals that make Birmingham the creative city it is, all compacted into a big B, maintained and supported by hard working individuals.

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