Adam Higton and Atelier Bingo collaborate to illustratively visualise the 12 months of the year


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As the year draws to a close and we reflect on the creative comings and goings 2018 has brought, York-based illustrator Adam Higton and French illustration duo Maxime Prou and Adéle Favreau, otherwise known as Atelier Bingo, have been working away interpreting the 12 months of the year into an A4 poster. Collaborating over Dropbox Paper, the group’s final illustrative interpretation will be available for free at our monthly event, Nicer Tuesdays.

Both illustrators with a similar organic approach to mark making, Atelier Bingo was keen to work with Adam in a collaborative aspect, spotting the similarities in their individual aesthetics and processes that would merge together in a poster format cohesively.

From the get-go, this was an approach to the brief Atelier Bingo had in mind, Maxime and Adéle voicing their excitement at the idea of creating a “common library” with Adam and sharing the assets to create the poster’s final outcome. This approach is relatively practical from both creative thinkers, but also allows each to have a good chunk of experimentation time too while keeping in mind the end goal of “a mix of our two universes”, of course.

But what would this universe contain? Despite the poster needing to interpret the month of December, avoiding any Christmas imagery was key for Adam in particular and as a result, the collaborators found themselves interpreting the whole 12 months rather than just the one. A common ground Adam and Atelier Bingo share is a love of nature, often taking long walks in their respective homes of the north of England and western France. In turn, the concept of designing a poster which is a visual walk “around the four seasons” was decided upon, with Adam offering David Calin’s song Seasons, as a piece of experimental influence for both parties.

Atelier Bingo then began proceedings by drawing a rough sketch of how the duo imagined their styles merging in just black and white, adding references of patchwork quilts for how the pair would apply texture and pattern. With Adam leaning towards a third option which split the poster into a number of squares, the collaborators used this format to get to work on the actual illustrations.

Adam and Atelier Bingo then reported back to the other with illustrative interpretations of each month, both figuratively and in pattern. Adam’s style tends to lean towards characterful designs, often creating his own wobbling shapely characters, always wide-eyed and with the sweetest, tiny smiles. This approach was one he stuck to in the poster’s design illustrating both simplistic line drawing characters for the 12 months of the year and bolder outlines of shapes using collage to demonstrate the seasons. Maxime and Adéle’s work, on the other hand, is more abstract, building a narrative through hand-drawn patterns, presenting Adam with various detailed options which see their illustrations build up and up.

Being able to share multiple visual references with each other easily over the Dropbox Paper thread was a particular highlight for Atelier Bingo explaining how it was helpful to able to “discuss, send images and share folders on the document,” the pair tell us. “An impression of sharing an office for real with Adam Higton!”

This process of collaboration was quite a rare occasion for Adam, telling us how “I am probably quite difficult to work with usually as I am so caught up in my own world”. Nevertheless, “I loved the idea of trying this out,” he continues, “and was really excited about the opportunity to work with Atelier Bingo because they are so good at working together and I love the open and experimental nature of their practice,” says Adam. “They were very kind and throughout this project and I was made to feel like a new member of the Bingo family.”

Additionally, the consistent dialogue between the creatives, which the Dropbox Paper thread encourages, allowed the project to develop for Atelier Bingo. It was particularly the sharing of documents that allowed the poster’s development to move forward and was “really the moment when writing becomes visual and the first images come into our minds!”

With both the illustrations laid out on their communal digital table, Adam then suggested leaving Atelier Bingo to work with the layout of the final poster encouraging them to “apply your textures to the shapes and see how they look,” he suggests on the Dropbox Paper Thread. That way the group can then “work together on any changes or variations” also suggesting they curate a poster where “the layout and colour could be different for each season so you could rotate it four times a year, or display it so that your favourite season is the right way up.” Atelier Bingo agreed this was the best foot to put forward, getting to work on trying “different recipes to get the best image!”

As Adam’s personal colour palette taste tends to be a bit more psychedelic than Atelier Bingo’s, Maxime and Adéle began by tuning down Adam’s pink, green, orange and purple option into a poster which follows a colour code of green meaning nature, pink interpreting spring, yellow representing summer and blue evoking the chill of winter. And despite differing away from his initial proposal, “I prefer your use of colour with these,” explains Adam on the thread, “the colour seems more natural and less eye-popping and psychedelic than what I want for haha – it’s still pretty out there, which I love.”

From there, the group then discussed possible layout options that would give each of the seasons and months room to breathe and be recognised by viewers. With Atelier Bingo wanting to avoid the use of a white background, the group settled on the fourth iteration Adéle and Maxime designed, featuring a green background with coloured layers added to Adam and Atelier Bingo’s initial illustrations which Adam feels “better covers all of the seasons and I love the colours in this one – it looks more like how I imagined our collaborative piece would look, so I’m really happy with it.”

However, in still wanting to push the poster’s illustrative elements further with a now loose layout decided, Atelier Brenda suggested Adam add some new elements and also propose the addition of typography. Although both illustrators often add hand-drawn type into their visual practices, Adam felt the poster’s themes were easy enough to interpret without titling.

As Adam supplied more illustrations to Atelier Bingo – even, despite his aversion to including anything Christmas-sy, adding a hint of the festive season with the addition of a reindeer – Maxime and Adéle began reworking in the extra elements heading back towards the initial patchwork style both creatives bonded over. “Luckily Maxime and Adéle rightly stuck to our original plan to make a loose patchwork piece and did a great job composing it,” says Adam, also noting their ability to shape “different elements of our own personal work blended together seamlessly into this visual representation of the year in all her different colours, shapes and textures.”

Choosing a final poster that included the most possible combinations of colours and patterns, the final design is an apt representation of a year that has included multiple highs and lows. For Adam, this was what the poster set out to be and achieved resulting in “a patchwork poster [which is] a visual reflection of the year — shimmering in all of her glory,” he says. “A celebratory kaleidoscopic cartwheel of colours where strange shapes stare from the cycle of seasons spinning through a jovial joy ride of change and merriment.” With Atelier Bingo fully agreeing, describing it as a “patchwork image of the seasons! A kind of joyful and colourful calendar that reminds us of the first blooms of flowers, the beautiful moments by the sea, the falling leaves and the snow-covered firs!”

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