Academic Conference Visual Branding, Programme and Poster Design, 2018
Rhys Williams (University of Glasgow) commissioned me to create the visual identity and design all materials for the 2018 Petrocultures conference 'Transitions', including the programme, event and room posters, name badges and staff t-shirts so they could be identified by delegates needing assistance. He had specific requirements for the design itself, favouring an A5 wallet with the pages of the programme as loose sheafs of paper, but wanted my input on the creative direction.
The imagery often associated with oil industries is heavy and industrial - photographs of rigs in oceans or drills penetrating the landscape. The process of mining for oil and the culture surrounding goes hand in hand with catastrophe, risk and destruction. However I wanted to consider the subject of oil itself, a substance that is so linked to corruption, toxicity and damage and yet one which facilitates and drives much of what we consider to be crucial to contemporary life. It is seductive in its danger and in the beauty it creates, interwoven through the fabric of our daily lives.
Given the theme of the conference - transitions - and its allusion to motion and change, I wanted there to be a sense of movement in the graphics, alluding to the promise of alternative oil futures that Petrocultures seeks to investigate. I chose to illustrate the oil slick, creating two key visuals to be reproduced across the programme and the posters, and incorporating these tones in the programme design.
Brent Ryan Bellamy (Assistant Professor of Speculative Literature (LTA) at Trent University, Canada) generously included an overview of the materials in his review of the conference, published in Fantastika Journal (Volume 3 Issue 1 2019), saying:
I need to mention the posters that helped direct us around campus and advertised the Town Hall event, the t-shirts worn by the conference volunteers, our stylised name badges, the conference programme, and the digital booklet containing all the abstracts and presenter biographies...The design: a colourful transition from the black Petroculture logo oil droplet into a chromatic slick of water-based acrylic colour that swirls across the cover of the program. Oil has an aesthetic beauty. It also promises so much. The vibrant images of yellow, peach, and aquamarine contrast with the black to draw the eye towards some future combination or dissolution of their form. These materials drew us together to think just where that future might be. The colour palette was also used within the design of the program so that each day was expressed with a different colour. It was as if we moved through the slick. The print materials were produced with recycled paper stock, and the t-shirts were sourced from sustainable cotton (Earth Positive).
The PETROCULTURES RESEARCH CLUSTER was founded in 2011 at the University of Alabama. It supports research on the social and cultural implications of oil and energy on individuals, communities and societies around the world today.
Petrocultures 2018: Transitions was an international, multi-disciplinary conference on oil cultures and energy humanities, hosted by University of Glasgow, with support and sponsorship from Canada First, Warwick University, University of Alberta and Durham University.