"Awkward" Jarman Awards identity has no digital formats, only existing in wood

Date
5 December 2014
Reading Time
2 minute read

Most completed identity project result in a neat digital suite of assets – a carefully constructed series of jpg and eps files, a neat PDF of easily-emailed brand guidelines, perhaps a GIF version of a logo to liven things up. It’s all so tidy and efficient – which, of course, good design is all about. So it’s a very brave move to create an identity that exists only in a very physical format – big blocks of wood, to be precise, with no digital form whatsoever. But that’s exactly what Kent Lyons did in their identity for the Jarman Awards, a renegade move beautifully in sync with the filmmaker the prize celebrates, Derek Jarman.

The Jarman Awards recognises moving image artists whose “risk-taking work resists boundaries and conventional definition – work that encompasses innovation, excellence and vision,” echoing the values of film-maker Derek Jarman, says Film London. They launched in 2008, and the 2014 event on 8 December marks the end of a year-long commemoration of 20 years since the death of the director, artist and gay rights campaigner who was behind films such as celebrated punk film Jubilee (whose cast boasted the likes of Toyah Wilcox and Adam and the Ants); a nudity-heavy version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Caravaggio, which helped launch the career of his friend Tilda Swinton.

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Kent Lyons: Jarman Awards identity 2014, photography by Jon Cefai/Collaborate Courtesy of Film London

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Kent Lyons: Jarman Awards identity 2014, photography by Jon Cefai/Collaborate Courtesy of Film London

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Kent Lyons: Jarman Awards identity 2014, photography by Jon Cefai/Collaborate Courtesy of Film London

Kent Lyons was brought in to create the identity for the awards in 2009, and set about designing a Jarman-inspired word mark in wood coloured black and yellow, referencing the colours of Jarman’s wooden beach house in Dungeness. The huge letterforms spelling “Jarman” are the identity itself, exciting only in wood and placed outside the Whitechapel Gallery on the night of the awards ceremony. Each year the huge metre high, five metre wide letters are photographed in a different location to create promotional imagery for the event. This year the huge characters have taken to the stage, while last year they were placed in London’s Royal Docks. In 2013, the letters were taken to the site that inspired their form in Dungeness.

“We focused on creating a visual icon that would become a strong feature of the awards’ identity,” says Kent Lyons. We felt that it had to be something that was clearly associated with Jarman, something that embodied the spirit of his work and him as a person…the real key to the success of the brand is that it is awkward.”

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Kent Lyons: Jarman Awards identity 2009, photography by Jon Cefai/Collaborate Courtesy of Film London

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Kent Lyons: Jarman Awards identity 2010, photography by Jon Cefai/Collaborate Courtesy of Film London

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Kent Lyons: Jarman Awards identity 2011, photography by Jon Cefai/Collaborate Courtesy of Film London

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Kent Lyons: Jarman Awards identity 2012, photography by Jon Cefai/Collaborate Courtesy of Film London

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Kent Lyons: Jarman Awards identity 2013 photography by Jon Cefai/Collaborate Courtesy of Film London

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About the Author

Emily Gosling

Emily joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in the summer of 2014 after four years at Design Week. She is particularly interested in graphic design, branding and music. After working It's Nice That as both Online Editor and Deputy Editor, Emily left the company in 2016.

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