Alexa and Jessica Viscius: Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago

Work / Graphic Design

Twin sisters Alexa and Jessica Viscius on creating this year’s Pitchfork festival identity

The Viscius family must have some kind of brilliant creative ancestry. Twin sisters Alexa and Jessica Viscius are both successful creatives in their own right. Alexa, whose photography intwining graphic design we fell for recently is an art director at female run Chicago-based studio Normal, whereas Jessica is an art director at music publishing figurehead, Pitchfork.

Music, whether it’s band references, photographs of bands, or playing themselves, is a large part of both of the sisters’ lives and when we found out they were given completely free reign of this year’s Pitchfork Festival in their hometown of Chicago, we knew it was going to be great.

A combination of typography inspired by the festival’s and the Viscius’ home city, to utilising photography that evokes the heady long weekends of festivals and a bold colour palette that nestles nicely within Pitchfork’s overall brand, we had every right to be excited.

Below, Alexa and Jessica tell us the full story of working together on this year’s identity from creative choices to their collaboration as twin sisters.


Alexa and Jessica Viscius: Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago

As sisters what’s your working relationship like?

Our styles are very similar! There’s that stereotype about twins having a supernatural connection, twin telepathy, or something like that. And in our case, it often feels that way. There’s this inherent understanding and trust between us that makes working together pretty seamless. Our closeness allows us to avoid niceties and work efficiently.

Can you talk us through the design decisions behind the identity colour palette and typography?

The festival’s identity has been ever-changing since its inception. Our goal this year was to establish something that would endure. We set out to create a simple system that was evocative of Pitchfork’s Chicago roots. Intentionally avoiding oft-seen festival cliches, and instead striving for something that was more functional than flashy. We limited ourselves to one typeface and five colours, updating a long-running, loose RGB theme to include a red and blue that are reminiscent of the colours seen in Chicago’s city flag.

We used Grilli Type Foundry’s custom Pitchfork version of its Walshiem typeface (aptly named Walfork) to create the logo. We looked to Bauhaus traditions, vintage ad campaigns from Volkswagon and Apple, where simplicity and wit are paramount. The type pays homage to the bold, tightly kerned Helvetica, seen throughout the city’s transportation system. We wanted the identity and, in turn, the festival to feel accessible, a place where its diverse audience could be celebrated.


Alexa and Jessica Viscius: Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago

The use of photography across the identity is strong and evocative of how joyful festivals are. Who took these photographs and what sort of shots were you looking for to display?

We wanted to convey the spirit of the festival through some of our favourite photos from last year. We have an excellent team of some of the best music photographers around who shoot for us every year: Matt Lief Anderson, Pooneh Ghana, Jackie Lee Young, Kristina Pederson, and Alexa, to name a few. To get a sense of setting, we focused on shots that were more atmospheric — an enthusiastic audience, a contemplative audience, languid moments spent laying in the shade, finding respite from hot July sun, shared moments between friends and lovers.

Can you tell us a little about how your work will be implemented at the event itself?

We’ve got a bunch of graphics to roll out yet! Animated live stream graphics, stage banners, wayfaring signs, pocket guides, merch, posters, etc. It’s a fun challenge to implement the branding across so many applications.


Alexa and Jessica Viscius: Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago


Alexa and Jessica Viscius: Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago


Alexa and Jessica Viscius: Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago