05 The systems behind storytelling: styling Quentin Blake and Roald Dahl for the digital age

By Sarah Holland, Senior Account Executive

Talking Sir Quentin Blake through the value of vector files; not the most obvious task for a branding and design agency, but an exciting and valuable one (this is coming from a long-term fan girl of Sir Quentin and Roald Dahl).

When you think of design, you think of aesthetics rather than the systems behind them. We can overlook what goes on behind the scenes, and ultimately provides the foundations for the creative work.

But these systems are an essential part of the process. Heidi Lightfoot, co-founder and Creative Director at Together Design, mentioned at YCN’s breakfast talk on Tuesday that it’s one of Together Design’s strengths.

As well as the “pursuit of lovely aesthetics, we’re really good at articulating design systems” she says, adding that the team has created around 1,000 style guides for clients.

Although clearly passionate about art and illustration, Lightfoot is also a fan of puzzles and problem solving, making graphic design the right path for her.

Heidi talked us through one of these systems; working with The Roald Dahl Literary Estate, and Quentin Blake and DRi Licensing to create licensing style guides for The BFGCharlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda.

This project was just one of the talking points in a wider discussion about Lightfoot’s career and journey to co-founding a design agency.

Thanks to these style guides, each well-loved Roald Dahl tale was given a unique design identity, rather than all the stories existing under the same design scheme, which created a Roald Dahl melting pot of sorts.

The new launches allowed for more promo opportunities such as stage shows and gave a more consistent identity for new product.

The legendary illustrations were adapted for the digital world (which Sir Quentin was fortunately on board with), and each story had its own new painterly “splodge” to be used across merchandise alongside new colour palettes, typography and other visual elements.

All this groundwork strengthened the Roald Dahl brand, and provided guiding rules for the literary estate to play with. Read more about the project here.

So, spare a moment of appreciation for humble design systems, because they make the magic happen.

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