published Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Festival flair: Julie Curd's poster designs set Riverbend's style

Artist Julie Curd’s design for Riverbend is featured on festival brochures, posters and pins. Admission pins
have been replaced by wristbands this year.
Artist Julie Curd’s design for Riverbend is featured on festival brochures, posters and pins. Admission pins have been replaced by wristbands this year.
Photo by Erin O. Smith.

ABOUT JULIE CURD

Age: 37

Hometown: Chattanooga

Business Background: Worked at Initial Image ad agency while in college, has been self-employed since age 21. Founded Blueprint Graphic design firm, which merged with Best Way Printing, which she co-owns with her husband, David Curd. In 2012, founded Innovative Creative design firm, her current full-time business. She also freelances for Chattem about 30 hours a week.

Did You Know: Her clients, whose licensed well-known brands she helped bring to market, include Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, Hawaiian Punch, Mott's, Build-A-Bear, X-men and Batman.

Graphic artist Julie Curd, owner of Innovative Creative, will be the first to tell you Riverbend holds a different significance to every festivalgoer — music, concessions, people-watching, family fun. But it's her job to find one common denominator each year, then capture it in an illustration.

"For the most part, I try to keep colors loud and consistent," she says. "There is a challenge to make things big enough for a 100-foot billboard, where you may have 10 seconds to look at it, yet elegant and nostalgic enough for a program you hold in your hand. There is a push-pull to make it legible, yet still in your face for big value on a billboard."

Curd has been Riverbend's graphic designer since 2011. She won the position over other area designers and artists in a design competition that year to create the 30th anniversary poster.

"I thought it would be cool to incorporate every act that had played Riverbend in 30 years," she recalls about her entry. So she created the outline of a guitar in neon lettering that spelled out the names of three decades of acts in chronological order.

"To this day I still have people say that was their favorite because it reminded them who they saw," she says.

"Julie's passion for Riverbend explodes from her art," says Amy Morrow, Friends of the Festival public relations director. "The festival poster designs alone, in one glance, will make a music lover say 'Hey, now that's something I don't want to miss.' We love the way she captures the essence of Riverbend Festival year after year."

Riverbend begins Friday night on Riverfront Parkway and continues through June 14. Curd's poster for 2014 builds anticipation for the rock acts coming to town -- while not dismissing other genres such as country and blues.

"Riverbend tries to encompass a lot of genres, but this year it seemed there were more rock acts. I decided to try to bring rock'n'roll into the design, so I ended up with a yellow guitar. I got inspiration from old Jimi Hendrix ads, old rock posters.

There is a semicircle of stars, which I thought felt very Americana. (The stars) pulled in nostalgia from old branding, so there was a recognizable element carried on so many years later," she describes.

Curd doesn't rely on just her own creativity when designing each year's artwork.

"I talk to people, interview them and ask what Riverbend means to them. If you can get a personal testimony, find a common theme or goal, and communicate that graphically, then we've all won. As an artist, one thing you don't want to do is to come so close to your work that it only represents you.

"Creating the Riverbend look is like a puzzle," she compares. "I pull in many pieces from all walks of life to make a graphic puzzle that is complete and makes sense."

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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