Buck’s rebrand for The Art Department festival is a refined ode to the messy design process

Made with Playgrounds, the identity tracks the evolution of a creative idea, from its liquidy beginnings to fully-fledged form, to break down how designs come to life.

14 April 2022


On the 21 April, Eindhoven will play host to The Art Department – a festival on concept art, design and craftsmanship in film, animation and games – before bouncing over to Berlin on 14 May. At both sites, attendees will be welcomed into a “playground for the creative industry”, the site explains. The rebrand for the festival, recently executed by Buck and Playgrounds, reflects a similar ethos, with a system based on the design process in all its messy, playful and unexpected glory.

But how do you visualise the path from creative spark to realisation? While Buck and Playgrounds may not offer secrets on hacking the process – sorry, designers and artists reading – the duo have nailed down three guiding principles through which to explore the theme: Think & Wonder, Play & Explore, Make & Make Better. Led by these fairly universal steps for realising any creative task, the identity represents each part of the creative process with a distinct language. “Craft, experimentation and imperfection are all present within the identity”, Richard Gray, creative director at Buck tells us. “For example, in animation we avoided smooth linear curves and instead leaned into erratic, human, natural behaviours in motion... we did a lot of screen recordings of our process to analyse the way artists create.”

Buck and Playgrounds also looked at how other artists create. Initially focusing heavily on visuals associated with pen, paper and sketches, the duo eventually bought in 3D artists to explore their process. “[The 3D artists] explained that, when they Play & Explore it looks like wireframes or sculpting, code or vertices. This completely opened up the playing field,” says Vincent Lammers, executive creative director at Buck.

With The Art Department housing so many different artistic styles and disciplines, from game art to VFX and picture books, Buck and Playgrounds needed a language to bring them all together, something not previously delivered by the festival. So the design team leaned away from standard visual inspirations, which may have represented some artists more fully than others. “We did not represent specific styles but more how you get there,” explains Richard. “Process was the inspiration and our metaphor.”

Fluid, tactile forms play a delightful role in the work; each changing in texture based on the “step” of the creative process they represent. For instance, shapes visualising Think & Wonder are soft and malleable, while Make & Make Better sees confident, glossy flourishes enter the work. Accommodating this kind of flexibility was a challenge for the team, amplified by the difficulty of designing for the festival itself. Leon van Rooij, festival director at We Are Playgrounds, explains that designing the festival identity was about more than creating a “nice image” – “it’s about designing an experience for curious visitors without putting yourself too much on the front. How do you blend in?”

While we can’t say Buck and Playgrounds’ work blends forgettably into the background, the rebrand does offer a flexible solution to the festival’s diversity, managing to encapsulate the wealth of creative approaches soon to be welcomed under The Art Department roof.

GalleryBuck / We Are Playgrounds: The Art Department (Copyright © The Art Department, 2022)

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Buck / We Are Playgrounds: The Art Department (Copyright © The Art Department, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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