Character design for GMFringe - 2023 Update

Liza Bee-nelli get a re-design
February 28, 2023

Here's a great way to get a lot of mileage from your illustration work, refreshing or updating what's already there.

For 'Liza Beenelli', the brand mascot of the Great Manchester fringe, it seems just right to update her image for 2023. She's had loads of updates, and she still looks great.

If you need illustration you want to get as much value as possible. Here it makes sense to keep the 'master' illustration and change little bits at a time, so we still recognise the brand mascot.

Brand mascots are cool.

And they work too. From Tony the tiger or the meerkats to Colonel Sanders. Having a character that captures your brand is a wonderful wordless attention-grabbing way to remind everyone who you are and what you do. All in a single relatable image. So why don't more companies do it?

I'm speculating, but from my experience, I'd say budget plays one part but also, consistency over time.

Many creative agencies have in-house graphic designers and outsource illustration, this is a practical and pretty sensible decision. Graphic design is more affordable to replicate in-house if there's a staff change later, using a style guide. With brand mascots in illustration, "drawing a new face" in the style of an existing image can be a much trickier ask* further down the line.

This project works because it's a direct relationship with the illustrator. It's John (hello, this is me). If a brand mascot it something you're thinking about to give your brand a bit of personality, I can happily answer any questions. How much? how long? More importantly, what is your brand's spirit animal?

Manchester Fringe festival illustration 2023

Wrap party update - 2022

April 22022.
Here's a great example of a full design package, for the GM Fringe. The central illustration has been reused across the different designs to maintain a strong identity while getting maximum value from a piece of the original illustration.

This is Liza Bee-nelli, the mascot for the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival. The character design is a reimagining of the Fringe Mascot from 2017, when she was first introduced to promote shows. For this new version, I started with a pencil sketch in ClipStudio, then took it into Affinity Designer, my new favourite playground for designing vector artwork, as the mascot had to be flexible enough to be recreated at any size.

I've been using Affinity designer for around 16 months now and it's more than proven itself as a professional workflow tool, it just clicks with me a lot more than illustrator ever did. In particular features like layers and gradients are just a joy to use.

Here's the previous character design mascot logo from 2016, designed in illustrator. She's come a long way!

Greater Manchester Fringe Festival
2016 Lisa mascot


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