Photocredits: Gert Jan Pos
First-year illustration students from the Willem de Kooning Academy have been commissioned by Rotterdam Host City Eurovision Song Contest 2021 to create unique posters that tell the stories of the participating artists and Rotterdam.
For each of the 39 participating countries, the students have created a poster that tells something about the artist, his or her country and about Rotterdam. The ninety aspiring illustrators work for Host City Rotterdam. During the briefing, the students received instructions and wishes from their client. That was a huge puzzle for some students. But whatever they ended up with; their design should at least contain the text: 'Open Up To'. The slogan that is a translation of Rotterdam's attitude and mentality: open to the world.
From Australia to Azerbaijan
The result is a dazzling, colorful presentation of posters for and about the participating countries, from Australia via Estonia to Azerbaijan. After careful consideration, Rotterdam Host City and teachers from the WdKA have selected a top eight, together with Arno Wolterman creative director and partner at IN10 Digital Agency. The eight best posters were presented on May 4 at the countdown clock at the Boijmans van Beuningen Depot. From May 10 until the start of the Eurovision Song Contest the top 8 will be on display on nearly a hundred electronic advertising pillars throughout the city.
To learn more about the winning design en the process of making them, read the interviews with the top 8-students.
Student: Silke van Veeren
“Hi! My name is Silke van Veeren and my poster is for The Netherlands. The song 'Birth of a New Age' is written by Jeangu Macrooy and it is about his Surinam roots, empowerment and courage. He made a beautiful videoclip where some people are wearing traditional Surinam clothing. Inspired by this I've illustrated a woman wearing a traditional Surinam garment: the 'koto'. This dress has a lot of colours, patterns and fabric. On the left in the poster is the flag of the Netherlands and on the right the colours of the Surinam flag. In the patterns on the dress I've illustrated recognisable things of Rotterdam: the Erasmus bridge, the Euromast, the statue of Zadkine and the Cube Houses.”
Student: Lilah Calixtro
“My name is Lilah Calixtro and I portrayed the poster for Austria| Vincent Bueno, Amen.
In one of his interviews, he said that the song is about the inner struggle with one’s strengths and weaknesses that everyone knows which later leads to a brighter future. I really felt this message he wanted to highlight after further analysing the lyrics and the music video of his song. I decided to implement this into my poster by using bright colours of the Cube Houses and the feeling of being free from the inner struggles through the man’s (which is Vincent himself) explosive body language. The crow is also an additional feature from his music video and after research, it can also mean leading someone to their personal transformation and discovery. Since I prefer working minimalistic yet colourful, I incorporated my own stylistic choices by working digitally with how everything is drawn and the perspective use of the text."
Student: Anna Goràcz
“My name is Anna Goràcz. I created the poster for the Russian artist Manizha and her song Russian Woman. This song to me is about empowerment, progression, and not backing down regardless of our critics. When creating the poster I wanted to represent tradition, but also change. I used the colours of the flags of Russia and the Netherlands. I aimed to create a bold and striking design that would remind of strength. I also wanted to include a softer, more feminine side as well in my design, for which I painted Manizha’s Portrait in oil, holding an egg about to hatch, symbolising the process of opening up, growth and change.”
Student: Mai van Esch
“Hi, my name is Mai van Esch, and I have created a poster Malta. The song, sung by Destiny is about female empowerment. That is why I chose to portray the singer as a strong female figure in the middle of the poster. To give the poster the feeling of a party, I used bright colours. I like using analogue techniques, so I made the woman in the poster with paint.”
Student: Yeojoon Youn
“My name is Yeojoon Youn and I am from South Korea. I have created a poster for Estonia. When I made my poster, I decided to focus on the artist. So, I drew the artist’s face multiple times. At the first, I thought “How can I express Rotterdam with the artist?”. Rotterdam is an international city as you know. Hip, bold and multi-cultural. Then I thought it is a kind of palette with a variety of colours. So, I put different colours and figures on the poster. The figures can be square, circle, triangle, twisted line or just a shadow on the artist’s face. Those figures and colours represent Rotterdam the international city. The colours switch every time and become the colours of Rotterdam Green-White-Green) and of Estonia(Blue-Black-White). More playful and fun!”
Student: Zena-Rae Borst
“My name is Zena-Rae Borst and I made the poster representing Ireland. In an interview Lesley Roy said that her song Maps is about finding your true self, that message immediately evoked this visual of a ‘true self’ inside of someone. I decided to really go with my own style and used the colours to tie it back to Ireland. I especially enjoyed drawing the words in the open spaces. I created this digitally and tried to keep the design relatively simple yet intriguing.”
Student: Alice Petronzio
“Hello, my name is Alice, and my poster was for Bulgaria’s Singer, Victoria. Her song is about being overflowed by emotions and anxiety, but still finding a way to feel your worth. The image I created is inspired by her music video, so I decided to portrait her in the moment of her own redemption, soaring through the air and feeling at peace with her self. In the details of the dress, very similar to the one she is wearing in the Eurovision music video, I created a pattern representing Rotterdam.”
Student: Mees Tönis
“My name is Mees Tönis and I made the poster design for Barbara Pravi. My inspiration mainly came from her song ‘Voilà’ which translates to ‘see here’ or ‘look at this’. In the context of her song this word is used to convey that she wants to be accepted for who she is. This is why I chose to give her a spot in the center of the poster sitting on top of the cubics houses of Rotterdam as if she’s saying: "voilà. Here I am. This is me". The colours are a subtle hint to the French and Dutch flag. I like working with clear minimalistic and abstract lines and colours so I really enjoyed working with the geometric shapes of the cubics buildings.”