CASE STUDY SILAS AMOS, RED RED
HOW A TOUCH OF THE SURREAL GAVE FLAVOUR TO THIS STEW-POT BRAND
Without the budget for a conventional ad campaign, African-inspired stewpot Red Red’s approach was to create a ‘design campaign’ orchestrated by creative strategist and designer Silas Amos and based around the idea of ‘a lunch less ordinary’. Nigerian artist Dennis Osadebe was brought in for the punchy illustrations used across various brand touchpoints, creating slightly surreal characters that mix humour, nuance and subtle use of African patterns. Parent brand Unilever was looking for a key visual, an image that communicated the brand’s essence while also showcasing the product. “We gave Dennis the brief to do his work in the mildly surreal way he does, but then we let him loose,” says Amos. “He came back with an astronaut lady, a Caesar character…” Osadebe adds: “We knew exactly what the brand represented: it was then a case of finding how to best bring it to life, visually. This inspired me to work with the feeling that the brand gave me – a mixture of fun, vibrancy, innovation, timelessness and most importantly diversity, in the sense of merging of different cultures together.”
materials, it becomes part of the brand’s handwriting.”
CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLLABORATORS
A few years back, the typical way for an agency to find the right illustrator for a project would have been through submitted physical portfolios or using agencies and organisations such as the AOI. Nowadays, it’s more a mix of good old-fashioned ‘who you know’ and trawling through online portfolios and social media, most notably Instagram, and for Together Design, sometimes Pinterest too.
For Burns, finding the best illustrator for the project is “more gut instinct than anything else,” and he warns against the temptation to simply hire the person who’s available at the right time, at the right price – especially when up against tighter deadlines and smaller product budgets.
For Amos, the process of hiring an illustrator to work on a brand is similarly instinctual. “There’s no hard and fast rule or set process [for commissioning], but as a designer, I think in pictures, so I’ve already got something in my head and
“THE ARTIST WILL ALWAYS BRING THEIR OWN TAKE ON SOMETHING AND THAT BRINGS A WHOLE NEW ANGLE” SILAS AMOS, CREATIVE STRATEGIST AND DESIGNER
I’m looking to translate that into a picture. Sometimes you see a person’s work and think ‘their style would be great’, and that informs the answer; but sometimes you have the answer and you’re looking for the style.”
Of course, as Burns hints, you can’t always get what you want when it comes to your dream commission. You have to take into account budget, availability, and the opinions of any other stakeholders who might have a say in the final look and feel.
But what makes a person great to work with, should they fit all of those more pragmatic criteria? For Amos, the best sort of relationship is “a little bit of a ping-pong match,” and Lightfoot agrees that it’s vital to find someone willing to collaborate, and work through potentially numerous iterations with the designers.
“No matter how perfect the brief is, when you see the first rough there will always be ways to improve, or perhaps the emphasis on different elements has changed,” she says. “It’s nice to be able to have a conversation about that rather than one stage and one stage only, though that’s very rare as illustrators are usually very open to ideas from both sides. The artist