James Blake Summer Festivals

Festival tour promotions for bands are usually pretty boring. It’s a list of dates, and nearly all of them don’t apply to you. If you don’t live in Belgium, and have no intention of going there, you don’t need to know who’s playing there. But if you like the band, and they might be playing near you, you’ve got to read the whole list. And that list will get republished endlessly through the tour, as each new town approaches. It’s hard to make a list of dates look good on Instagram.

So for James Blake we came up with this:


It’s a great idea for a summer tour. James stands in the middle of a circle of venues, and as the summer progresses his shadow moves across the passing dates, creating a sundial. We first showed the idea using a piece of paper, a torch and a little architectural model figure, but needed some help to make it properly – with a 3D body scan of James from UVA and Dave Hollands doing the animating.


It translates easily into big posters:


And smaller Instagram posts:


And also small moving image clips:



That got progressively more out there as the tour went on:




What I wasn’t prepared for was the feedback. I’m sure if you do a lot of work with bands (or football teams or Twilight actors) you are entirely used to this, but it has never happened to me before. Most of the stuff we make goes out into the world and I have no idea how it is received, whether it makes any impression at all. Well behaved clients might remember to send you an email at the end of a project saying thanks (this is depressingly rare) and if you are really lucky you might get a thumbs up emoticon out of a design blog somewhere, but they aren’t real people – they aren’t who the work is actually for.

Which made doing this project a revelation for me. Because James has FANS. As soon as we posted the first sundial they started commenting:


Finally! Somebody has recognised our genius! I’d never seen it before either. It IS super clever. And well executed! I love you Fabio.


Yes. Siiiiiiccccckkk.

SCREENSHOT_3.5With this tour promo, we have transcended graphic design.


Fuck off troll! Everybody loves it! I can read it even without my glasses on. I know because I’m testing it right now, even though I am in no way destabilised by your remarks.

SCREENSHOT_5.4Oh God. Maybe it is unreadable? Have we let function follow form? What would my old tutor say? I think he’d like it because there is an idea in there, and it’s hard to get an idea into a list of dates. But if you can’t actually read the dates… Why am I thinking about my design tutor? I’m nearly forty years old.


Shit shit shit! We misspelled Montreux! Quick, change it before anyone else spots it. Why is it spelled like that anyway? I bet that’s all they do in Montreux – spell check the internet for Montreux. It’s probably a full time job for the whole fucking town. But spelling mistakes are so amateur… I really hope nobody else spotted it.




I give up.

I can’t take it any more.

I just want things back the way they were, sending work into the void.

And never hearing about it ever again.


Click here to see the full case-study