Each year, Le Guess Who? cooperates with a different illustrator to design the festival's main graphics and images (the layout and typography are done each year by Loudmouth). In 2016, the festival illustrator was Suuns' Joe Yarmush; last year, it was Leonie Bos. Now, we'd like you to meet Utrecht-based artist Nick Liefhebber, this year's festival illustrator.
Can you introduce yourself to the Le Guess Who? audience?
Hi, my name is Nick Liefhebber. Living and working in Utrecht, The Netherlands since I studied at the University of the Arts Utrecht. I’m an artist working on both commercial and self initiated project ranging from campaigns and identities to my own screen-printed artwork.
Illustration for risographed magazine Wobby
How would you describe your work, and how did your signature style originate?
Most of my images are collages from paper cut shapes which I often arrange on my computer. I developed this way of working when I started experimenting with screen- and riso-printing. With these techniques, you print one colour at a time over the other so you have to keep in mind how colours blend and how to separate them. I really like symbols and I found out cutting shapes from paper works really well since you limit yourself. With these symbols I try to tell abstract stories, it doesn’t have to be clear.
How did the collaboration with Le Guess Who? came to be, and what is the concept for this year’s artwork?
In 2017, I created an illustration for the cover of Volkskrant V about Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, who were playing at the festival. After that, Le Guess Who? asked me if I was interested in creating this year's artwork. I think/hope the colourful semi-abstract graphic shapes resonated with the festival.
Illustration for LGW special in Volkskrant's V, 2017
When discussing the festival I noticed the diverse and incredibly expansive line-up, and we discussed the role of Le Guess Who? as a central entity surrounded by smaller sub events, musicians, event locations, and people. I made the connection with medieval Persian and European tapestries of gardens which often depict a central event or object surrounded by layers of lush borders full of flowers and plants. I thought it’d be interesting to use this metaphor and depict it in my own way; a central Le Guess Who? garden surrounded by small elements in different shapes and colours representing the diverse line-up.
Are there any specific styles or artists that have inspired the festival artwork?
With the concept inspired by old tapestries, the visual style is what I’m developing myself but of course I’m inspired by a lot artists as well. Especially artists creating graphic colourful work, sometimes figurative sometimes abstract. For example the letterpress experiments by Karel Martens, some of Tadanori Yokoo’s work, Henri Matisse, tapestries by John Allen.
The artwork for Le Guess Who? 2018 will again evolve over different stages; can you give a little peak on how it will develop the coming months?
Imagine the garden expanding it’s borders.
Are there any acts playing at Le Guess Who? that you’re looking forward to seeing yourself?
Absolutely, I’m almost always playing music in my studio when working and into a few of these artists but I’m also confident I’ll discover loads of new music. A few names I know, like and want to see: Ebo Taylor, Gigi Masin, Ras G & The African Space Program, Meridian Brothers, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Psychic Ills and Kikagaku Moyo. A mix of beats, psychedelic acts and just good music.
Other than Le Guess Who?, what else are you currently working on / what does the future have in store for you?
I’ve been working on a solo show consisting of screenprints, risoprints and some spatial work at Kapitaal in Utrecht. We’ll open and celebrate on July 20th with some drinks and DJs and a live synthesizer set. Can’t wait to finally show what I’ve been working on. I’m also working on a bunch of commercial projects. For example a can design for one of the biggest craft beer brewers in America, a few patterns for AMREF Flying Doctors, a range of socks, a record sleeve for Roger van Lunteren for SOHASO records and some swimwear.
Nick Liefhebber's exposition 'Deep Deep Down' opens on Friday, 20 July at Kapitaal Utrecht. More info here.
Portrait photography by Juri Hiensch.