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Existential Anxiety But Make It Positive: Edinburgh International Book Festival

Existential Anxiety But Make It Positive: Edinburgh International Book Festival

by Wishu
17 November 2021

Designed by Glasgow based studio, Tangent, the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s visual identity is putting a positive spin on existential angst.  

Why this theme, you ask? Well this year’s festival looks specifically at stories and ideas about the changing world around us. These stories, which were told over 750 events, debates and workshops during 17 days, inevitably touched upon the impact of the pandemic. Still, they also discussed climate change, poverty, inequality and the varied effects of technology.

Naturally, this adds a rather serious tone to the festival which poses a challenging and nuanced brief for Tangent and its approach to the visual identity. Nevertheless, Tangent rose to the challenge admirably by looking to the authors, politicians and leading world thinkers who discussed the overlapping crises that face humanity, all of whom explored how we can move forward past them.

Tangent director David Whyte explains: “This year’s festival was focused on sharing ideas and stories about how we can all best adapt to a rapidly changing world and recover from the pandemic. We wanted to create something joyful and optimistic that embraced the best parts of the last year and a half: community, optimism, a chance to rebuild.”

“Scotland is also looking to the future at the moment with the COP 26 climate change conference being hosted in Glasgow, so we wanted to strike as positive a tone as possible.”

In order to produce a positive tone, Tangent stressed the need for local communities to work together and have the power to achieve widespread, positive change. The quirky style of illustrator Linn Fritz was used to perfectly capture and humanise the campaign’s sentiment, and a dynamic, impactful typographic framework further drove the message home.

Appearing across all areas of branding, including posters and digital displays, the separate elements of Tangent’s branding look forward without ignoring the gravity of the situation that the festival is discussing. 

The final identity is one which sees cartoon-like characters bravely step forwards and dynamic typography swish around in purposeful motion. It’s a campaign that inspires constructive change through purposeful positivity. 



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