Behind the Scenes: Meet the Festival Art Director
“My main inspiration is the people.”
– Josué Castilleja
Since 2009, art director Josué Castilleja has designed eighteen logos for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. For the Perú: Pachamama program, he and his design staff have developed over 250 designs, including signs, stage backdrops, banners, advertisements, T-shirts, and the free Festival guidebook. In the middle of a busy week of meeting deadlines, he shared his experience with us.
What is your design process for the Folklife Festival logos?
It’s based on the cultures that we partner with. My main inspiration is the people who are coming: performers, cooks, artisans, and dancers. But the decision about the colors also has to follow the Smithsonian branding standards and include our partners’ preferences. Striking a balance is key!
How far in advance do you start working on the Festival designs?
One year is ideal, but often it is only a few months.
What do you enjoy the most about designing for the Festival?
I really enjoy that participants love our effort to represent their culture. On top of that, I appreciate that the public loves learning about the meaning of the symbols I create to represent the cultures and use on the National Mall.
How many people are on the design staff?
Usually I work with two full-time designers, two interns, several freelance designers, and eight print vendors around the country.
Which stage of the process do you enjoy the most?
What I like the most is getting to know the people and the cultures that we will work with. Traveling to the countries and starting the creative part of the new designs is always exciting.
What has been the most challenging part of the Perú: Pachamama designs?
Balancing the symbolism of the twelve different groups that are coming to Washington. When creating the circle icon, I balance the color, scale, and texture for each of the twelve groups so that they are distinct yet unified. The Perú: Pachamama logo is the most important graphic on the National Mall, representing the program during the 2015 Festival.
Have you seen Josué’s designs on a bus or in a Metro station? Share your Festival logo sightings on social media with #FolklifeSignsHunt!
Kyra Hamann is a social media intern with the 2015 Folklife Festival.