Following on from its highly successful debut in 2017 with Italian illustrator Daniele Castellano, the BCBF Visual Identity Workshop went to work on the visual identity of the 2018 edition of the Bologna Children's Book Fair. Together with the Fiera team, design studio Chialab choose a very young 22-year old artist from Paris from among the illustrators selected for the 2017 Illustrators Exhibition: Chloé Alméras.
This is how the Chialab working group steered the “BCBF Visual Identity Workshop” in its brief to create BCBF 2018’s visual identity:
Choosing. It all started during the selection phase for the 2017 Illustrators Exhibition. With an eye on the following BCBF in 2018, we were looking for illustrations of different worlds, inhabited landscapes, planetary systems, environments full of life and activity. Chloé’s illustrations literally drew us in. We were sure her blues, and especially the minute, carefully drawn details could be used to narrate the Children's Book Fair. For although swarming with detail, the worlds she creates exude an intriguingly intense calm.
We met up with Chloé in the fertile chaos of the fair. She showed us her notebooks, projects and the worlds she had created, all imbued with that same pervasive serenity. So we decided: Chloé would be the author of the 2018 BCBF visual identity. We would run the risk of challenging graphic art conventions by using her very thin line drawings - a major problem for printers - her wide white empty spaces and microscopic detailing.
Preparing. Chloé Alméras visited us in Bologna in July. We spent many hours together at Chialab with Jessica, Michele, Alex, Simona, and Laura… the people who would later use her exquisite work.
Sitting in our sunny garden, we told her all about the complex machine that is the Bologna Children's Book Fair, its various sections and itineraries and how they all came about. We told her of the need to span many formats and media, but also that we didn’t want to repeat compositions as far as possible.
Chloé was very quick to understand and we were soon on the same wavelength. She soon submerged us with drawings, full of minute details and large ideas. Her illustrations spoke of a fertile world concealing a wealth of stories that were forever dividing and multiplying to become new stories. That was how we came up with the main theme for this year: “Fertile Ground for Children's Content”.
Fertile Ground for Children's Content. Chloé returned to Paris and our e-mails were filled with masks, tightrope walkers, boats, stones, seaweed, feathers, flowers, leaves and hats… Soon after, came a series of tireless wayfarers dragging enormous hats full of growing plants or loaded with houses, boats, constellations, birds, and stones. These were the underlying themes on which we started building the delicate system of the 2018 BCBF visual identity.
Implementing. Once we actually started working, however, we realised that Chloé's illustrations could not be adapted to the many different formats and uses we had to deal with. When her drawings were reduced in size, the details got lost, and when placed alongside text, they were less effective. We needed a more flexible composition starting from individual components drawn by Chloé that would allow us to build up illustrations as demanded by the particular content, space or format. That meant Chloé had to trust us, and that we, for our part, had a great responsibility.
But Chloé listened. She looked at our proposals that were a bit more compact, less éparpillé - and what to many Artists with a capital “A” would have seemed a frontal attack became instead a demonstration of mutual trust.
Disassembling and composing the image. Chloé provided us with a huge number of elements with which to build up her illustrations: plants, leaves, hats, wayfarers, planets and constellations, boats, houses, stones, birds, slippers… These components, together with the rules we created for putting them together, formed a sort of assembly chart used to create BCBF 2018’s visual identity “Fertile Ground for Children's Content”.
Together with Chloé Alméras, the BCBF Visual Identity Workshop 2018 produced a vibrant effervescent world in which people on the move go from one place to another unfettered and without constraints, exchanging enormous coloured hats from which spring plants and an unending stream of ideas.
From that moment on, every aspect of the fair’s visual communication would be animated by these prolific gardener-travellers, their indefatigable green fingers nurturing and distributing the ideas produced by the marvellous community of professionals that each year gather at the Bologna Children's Book Fair.
Beppe Chia (Chialab)