Melbourne International Jazz Festival

31 May 2017

Liquorice Senior Designer Andrew Fiscalini has been designing for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) for six years. That's a long time in agency years.

The MIJF-Liquorice love affair began in 2012 when every Liquorice designer had a go at designing a brand which might woo the then-new client.

But why don't we let him tell the story?

Tell me about the Jazz Festival

The festival is 20 years old and has grown to be Australia's largest jazz festival. They've had some pretty big names come out to play over the years - Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner etc. etc.

Can you describe a typical audience member?

Traditionally, their core audience has been the people who know and appreciate jazz in all its forms. They have an understanding of jazz and a great knowledge of which artist has played what and with whom. With the jazz masters that a more casual audience might know and wish to see increasingly becoming harder to bring to Australia, the festival is having to look at a different audience - one more attuned to where jazz itself is evolving as it picks up elements of modern music.

When did you start designing the MIJF brand?

Back in 2011, I started work on the identity for the 2012 festival and have been working on it ever since.

What was it like designing the first year?

It was our first festival and Scott (the Liquorice MD) just threw it open to all the designers at Liquorice. It was kind of an internal competition. Annie and Bez were part-timers so they teamed up, and then Pete, myself and Shane, we all had a go at it.

We focused on various aspects of jazz and sound and for some reason, they just clicked with mine. I hinged my design around all the old Blue Note record covers when jazz was big and they ran with that. So, here I am working on my 6th Festival!

How has the festival brand changed over time?

For most of the 6 festivals, it has remained pretty consistent with a modernist approach with typography and continual use of a set colour palette. In more recent years, the layouts have become more modernist and modular in approach to help the work move more quickly and be able to make last-minute program changes easily. Last festival (2016) was the first since 2012 that didn't use the light blue as the lead colour which was a fun change. This year we totally went back to the drawing board to illustrate a new era for the festival and their 20th anniversary. We still maintained some of the core design ideas that have been present all along, however.

Is there anything that has remained the same over the years?

To date, the light blue and the bold Swiss-style modernist typography have largely been the pillars to build the brand on. The festival wanted to build some recognition and these elements were the key aspects to build on. This changed a little last year with the light blue having a secondary role but still maintaining its presence.

This year, it's totally different (as you can see), but it still retains the core principals.

In keeping those elements over time, you've essentially committed yourselves to telling a story over a number of years. Has that story evolved over time?

Yeah, it has for sure. The first few years were about the core things that make up a live jazz show. The audience, the artist and finally the music itself. From there the actual sound of jazz became the focus. First as a broad shifting landscape and then on a more singular level that represents our own unique take on any given show. Now the focus has shifted to the festival and its history.

Can you talk me through the idea for the 20th anniversary?

The idea from the start was to change it up for this year's festival. With the festival itself evolving into a new era of jazz and with the 20th anniversary, it felt like a good opportunity to evolve the brand.

With this in mind, I looked at celebration, evolution and festival history to build a brand that touches on all of these points. The white polygon is an icosahedron: a twenty-sided object, each facet representing a year of the festival. All the facets come together to build the festival it has become today. It's made from porcelain which is the traditional 20th anniversary gift and the dripping material is platinum which is the more modern 20th anniversary gift. The porcelain represents the history while the platinum represents the evolution into a new era.

How does the yellow come into it?

Most festivals have had a shot at the jazz blue but at the time nobody was using a big shock of yellow. Working with black and white photography, it just felt like a good opportunity to have this big, bold yellow. It's a colour they could own, for this year at least. It wasn't really taken on board as a continual colour. It was more just focus for this year.

I really like the fact that, although it is a departure, it still feels like it's still part of the same story.

It certainly does. While all the fonts and everything are different, it still has the black on that bold colour, a flat colour. And that slight geometric shape-bound sort of idea is still there, be it 2D or 3D.

How do you want people to feel when they see this out and about?

Curious and excited.

In the 6 years that you've been doing this, what are you most proud of?

2016 is the festival brand I'm most proud of I think. It's one where many elements came together and really worked as a whole. There was some industry and peer recognition there too, as I was selected as a finalist for the AGDA and Premier's Design Awards.

On a more general note, though, working with the teams at Liquorice was also a great collaborative experience, especially with the development of the various tools to create key elements of previous festivals.

To learn more about the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, take a look at our case study or visit