Graphic Design with Pearse O’Halloran

  • Published on: 13th March 2019
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Each week we will be bringing you news, blogs, and updates from An Lanntair and the Outer Hebrides. 

This week we are handing over to Pearse O’Halloran, Creative Director of LOOM, an Independent Graphic Design Studio based in the Outer Hebrides. An Lanntair have been working with Pearse on our new brand refresh and he tells us a wee bit more about this and his work as a creative based in the islands……………………..

There was a satisfyingly slow process to the update of the branding for An Lanntair, the flagship Arts Centre in the Outer Hebrides. Most of my work as a Graphic Designer can be packaged up and displayed for digital gratification very quickly. But as the scaffolding was removed from the front of the building in late November, lines that I had mapped on my screen many months before, were now dashing around one of the most prominent buildings in the Western Isles. No amount of Instagram notifications could compare.

The seeds of this Graphic process were sown over a year ago when I was asked by the team at An Lanntair to consider new signage for the building. Although talk of a brand update wasn’t fully on the table, I knew this was a great chance to inject a bit of dynamism into visual communication. 

The Arts Centre is an impressive multi-layered organisation. On the face of it, in its beautifully structured building, they host a Shop, Café, Exhibition Space and Auditorium (Which itself is a multi-purpose space with Film, Theatre, Comedy and Music events). Beyond that, it has a vibrant Education and Outreach scheme assisting artist on the islands and running workshops for the public.

I liked the general direction of the original brand but immediately I wanted to incorporate a visual device to reflect the various vibrant layers of the organisation. 

It was challenging as this wasn’t a rebrand but a refresh. An Lanntair wanted to keep the essential elements of its brand but evolve it to invigorate its communications. Anything too radical would jar with the current branding, so I was bound to developing the existing graphic elements rather than invent entirely new ones.

In those early developments of the signage, I focussed on the icon of the An Lanntair logo. 30 years old, it still looked great and I looked to deconstruct it somehow. To play with its component parts and create a completely new graphic but would remain cohesive with the parent icon. 

The signage was beginning to take a form that enthused everyone. It was at this point we spoke about rolling this touchstone for the new brand across the rest of An Lanntair’s communication starting with one of it’s more prominent pieces of marketing: The quarterly Events Brochure. 

Another challenge presented itself as the Brochure is bilingual. Every entry was doubled up in English and Gaelic. Spacing was at a premium, so a modular strategy was proposed to run images centrally and have Gaelic entries run in at the top and English below. The images then flow around the irregular text. I also introduced a new serifed body font, Minion Pro, to complement the original brand font of Gill Sans. More practically, to also improve the legibility of the smaller text size. 

The birthing process of the Brochure served up some clear new rules for the brand. I wrote a set of guidelines to set these in stone, including defining an extended colour palette to define various functions of the organisation more readily.

The process was now gaining pace and a gradual rollout across other print media and online promotion followed over the bright summer days. Each piece in isolation was looking great and with my nose so close to it for so long my original connective thoughts regarding the refresh we’re dissolving.

But on a freezing cold November morning, as Stuart from Graphite Signs packed away his gear and desperately attempted to regain the feeling in his limbs, I looked up at the massive outdoor graphics and the connection clicked together again. The exploding shape of the An Lanntair icon invited you into the building where these lines burst into colour and wrapped themselves around posters, brochures and menus.

This month too, I’m very excited to see this burst of colour extend to the final piece of the year-long project. The relaunch of An Lanntair’s website will comfortably shake hands with all the print design populating the building and throughout the Isles. 

To work with An Lanntair and help to promote their tremendous output has been deeply satisfying and I thank them for their trust and guidance in getting there. 

I also need to thank two careless heroes who were involved:

Stuart Sutherland from Graphite Signs for meticulously crafting my signage artwork to the building in the face of a very real threat of hypothermia. 

And Shaun Woods of Bauholz for his excellent website development. Keeping my brand baby safe in his coding arms.