Identity for Quentin Blake Centre reflects the beloved illustrator’s lively draughtsmanship

The centre (previously House of Illustration) takes steps towards opening with a new name and visual direction, inspired by the printmaking heritage at the site’s industrial backdrop.

27 July 2022

We’ve still got till 2024 to wait until the much-anticipated Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration finally opens to the public. But the major cultural venture is beginning to hint at the kind of experience visitors might expect with a new visual identity from Fraser Muggeridge studio and designer Manon Veyssière. The work is heritage-focused, drawing from the history of drawing and the location of the (currently derelict) centre: New River Head – a complex of 18th and 19th-century industrial buildings, including Britain’s only surviving windmill. But, Fraser Muggeridge also had to accommodate the diverse digital needs of the centre. And, of course, do justice to the charity’s namesake, the legendary Blake himself. No tall ask then.

The centre has been in the works for some time. Quentin Blake founded the charity in 2002 as the first and only of its kind for illustration. In 2024 it will become the national centre for the art form in the UK, with galleries, a learning studio, project space, public gardens, a shop and a café. It will also house Blake’s 40,000+ archive of works. As of July 2022, 43 per cent of the £12 million capital for the project has been raised.

At the foundation of the new identity from Fraser Muggeridge there are two typefaces by Commercial Type: Caslon Doric and Antique No. 6. Commercial Type is known for its revivals of 19th-century fonts from the Caslon foundry – in fact, its recent typeface created for Rapha is similarly founded. Interestingly, the Caslon foundry was located on Chiswell Street, less than a mile away from the Quentin Blake Centre’s home in New River Head, making its typefaces the historic, clear choice for Fraser Muggeridge.

The centre still needed to look approachable, though, and cater for Quentin’s harshest critics: the kids. A vibrant palette of greens, complemented by pink, orange, yellow and blue, speaks to this element of the work. “The association of Caslon Doric Condensed and Antique No. 6, paired with the colour palette, gives the Centre a bold, strong, yet playful look,” says Fraser Muggeridge.

Just as the history of the site is represented, so too is the medium it houses. Fraser and Manon looked to the origins of analogue printing methods “where illustration first flourished and still lives”, comments centre artistic director Olivia Ahmad, for the work. This ties in once more with the centre’s location in Clerkenwell, which has a strong printing heritage. The wordmark, for example, pays homage to various forms of line-making and even reflects the lively draughtsmanship Blake is best known for. Olivia states the final identity “prioritises the work of illustrators and is flexible enough to frame the diverse range of approaches that we will continue to champion”.

The new identity launches with a site developed by Birmingham-based studio An Endless Supply. As the centre continues to work towards a 2024 opening date, Fraser Muggeridge will lead on designing wayfinding signage and other onsite applications in dialogue with Tim Ronalds Architects.

GalleryFraser Muggeridge studio / Manon Veyssière: Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration (Copyright © Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration, 2022)

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Fraser Muggeridge studio / Manon Veyssière: Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration (Copyright © Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration, 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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