I was commissioned to create the official festival mascot for the 2023 annual Animex International Festival of animation and computer games. It was a great joy and responsibility to embody the spirit of the festival with a character that would be used across a great deal of promotional material.

 

Here's some of the thinking behind it and how I landed on the final design.

My starting point was analyzing the existing festival branding to familiarize myself with its colour scheme and shape language, then collecting examples of how it had been applied to banners, posters and merchandise to get a clearer idea of how the final design would be used. I also had a look back through past mascots to make sure I wouldn't be repeating any previous ideas.

For the personality of the character my thoughts went back to this memorable TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert about the elusive creative 'genius' and I decided to explore what that character might look like with creative play via some rough sketches.

I liked the idea of a beautiful dreamlike fish or perhaps an energetic flame-like sprite but something drew me back to this oddball I'd scribbled in a corner of the page. 

It was a little unconventional but eye-catching and looked like something I would point out to a friend if I spotted it on the street. A few iterations later and it took on life of its own. Bold and blocky shapes using the linear lasso tool would work well to match the logo typeface and accompanying graphic elements. I'd chosen a sparing colour scheme to match (handy for printing) and considered the 60, 30, 10 rule before introducing a third complementary purple colour.

 

I ran this design through some stress tests to make sure it would still read from a distance or shrunk onto smaller items so I made sure the line of action was clear and the silhouette well-defined when viewed the right way as well as flipped but discounted the use of linework as line thickness would have been mismatched when scaled and presented next to the festival typeface.

Finally, I tested it against the branding colour scheme to make sure it would stand out against any colour background that was likely to be used. White was a little more challenging so I added an outer stroke to prevent white details from getting lost. I added a few small flourishes and here's how it turned out.

Unfortunately it looked a little too much like Mike Wazowski and since Pixar representatives would also be attending the festival, we thought it best to rethink the design.

 

I revisited the idea of the elusive, beautiful fish I'd sketched out before and developed the idea further. I settled on a Betta fish, with its long lacy dreamlike fins and chose a few reference images to draw from. The initial version looked a bit cutesy whereas I was going for more of a cheeky disposition.

 

I ran similar tests as before, making sure values, silhouette and line of action were clear.

And ended up with the final cheeky mischievous fish. An all-knowing tantalizingly elusive creative Genius. Below are some photos of it in on various items and installations throughout the festival!