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Designing the visuals for 2023 festival

The digital communications agency Sometek is behind the visual identity of this year’s Tampere Vocal Music Festival. They took advantage of artificial intelligence in some phases while designing the illustrations. In this article Ilkka Olander, the designer of Sometek, explains how the appearance was formed.

Since 2019 I have designed the websites for the events organised by Tampere Music Festivals (Tampere Jazz Happening, Tampere Biennale, Tampere Vocal Music Festival). Tampere Music Festivals is an interesting client in many ways, since every festival’s visual presence needs to be renewed every year to grab the people’s attention year after year. At the same time, there are some permanent anchor elements that are required to keep the festival recognizable.

By utilising artificial intelligence in various visualization phases, I designed Tampere Vocal Music Festival a set of festival specific illustrations. They are used not only for the illustrations of the website, but also in outdoor advertising and social media.

Key visual for Tampere Vocal Festival 2023

The starting point of the illustrations was the summery, cheerful core character of Tampere Vocal Music Festival and the idea given by the Executive Director Minnakaisa Kuivalainen to utilise the reputation of Tampere as a city located in between lakes. We chose a fresh hue of blue as the theme color for the year, and the colour choice was also reflected in the illustrations.

I wanted try an imaginative and naive line of illustrations where the poetic dimensions of the music – moods, timbres and wordless expressions – are unleashed. In the illustrations, choirs and different kinds of animal figures are singing in the middle of a lake, in the summer nature, in the sky and on the rooftops of the city.

In my opinion, the expressive power of music is endless, and the visuals can be so much more than the realistic display of the choirs on stage. As a counterbalance, the real world is brought to the illustrations by using photos from Tampere Vocal Music Festival 2019 as a reference in some of the pictures. However, they also got the fantasy treatment.

Reference photo from Tampere Hall was used for creating this illustration

Of course, not everything can be fantasy and authentic photographs are also needed. The role of the new illustration was defined to create the atmosphere of the 2023 festival. In practice, the new image world can be seen in the main illustrations of the website and in locations where illustrations are clearly needed.

Now that the style and themes of the illustrations have been created, I am also able to design more visualisations with a very quick schedule, if needed. This has not been possible before. There is no need to resort to commercial stock photography even if the schedule is tight. The quality and originality of the illustrations thus rises to a new level.

Mastering the creative artificial intelligence requires the skills and the vision of a professional. I use AI as an ideation tool and for creating and developing elements for the visualizations, while final illustrations are always built in photoediting software like Photoshop. When used correctly, AI is a powerful new tool, which will raise the visual level of communications and profoundly change the entire industry. I want to be at the forefront of the change and use the experiences that I have gained here in all my future design projects.

Text: Ilkka Olander, Sometek

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