Shakespeare @ The Hay Festival project – Part I

(10th March 2016)

As I don’t want to show anything I’ve been working on until the Hay Festival has launched it, I’m scheduling all the blog posts documenting my progress with the project until the 26th May (the start of the festival). The date I’m writing them will be displayed at the top of each post.

So! As part of our Competition and Commission module, we’re working with the Hay Festival to create “a piece of illustrated text responding to one of Shakespeare’s quotes” in celebration of his life, marking 400 years since his death. The completed illustrations will be sent to the Hay Festival team for selection and then scaled up and printed onto vinyl to be applied to the tarpaulins around the Festival site. Exciting stuff!

I began by writing some quotes using watercolours and then markers, focussing on how I can make the text look professional using modern calligraphic techniques.

I feel it was useful to write different quotes out because it helped me to choose one that felt interesting to write and was the right sort of length. I decided on:

“The course of true love never did run smooth.” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

I felt it was a good length, not so short as to be boring and lose the focus on the text, but not so long as to become tedious or over-dominant. I also love the quote, I felt it resonated with me well and I started mapping out some ideas for how I could illustrate it.


I was drawn to the idea of creating an illustrated map with roads and rivers “not running smoothly”, making a sort of visual metaphor for the quote. I also liked the idea of creating a maze, with a boy and a girl at either end, showing that love is often a difficult journey, but I felt the map idea was stronger, with more potential for colour and it seemed like it would be more interesting for me to illustrate.

I started a Pinterest board for this module with a focus on contemporary illustrated maps and illustrations that combine text and image, which can be found here.

I’ll keep you updated with my progress.

Thanks for reading,




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