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Behind Bristol Beacon's new look

A sketch of the Beacon brand in a book

Bristol Beacon has developed its fresh new look and bold new vision to help everyone make space for music in collaboration with young creatives from Rising Arts Agency – Rosa ter Kuile, Jasmine Thompson and Greg Keen.

Here, Rosa reflects on the last year of collaboration alongside established creative agency Saboteur and how she developed the ideas behind the new identity.

Pictured: (l to r) Rosa ter Kuile with Louise Mitchell, chief executive Bristol Beacon and Bristol musician Lady Nade launch the new look and vision to Make Space for Music

Three people posing for photo
(l to r) Rosa ter Kulie with Louise Mitchell, chief executive Bristol Beacon, and musician Lady Nade

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Rosa, and I work under the name RTiiiKA. My work spans graphic arts, illustration and street art. I moved to Bristol in 2017 and have made the city my home. I’m part of Rising Arts Agency, a social enterprise dedicated to make the arts more accessible in Bristol.

Rising has been hugely important to my creative development, and has informed the type of work I’m interested in. The agency is built on values of co-creation, and is led by and for young creatives.

Besides this, I’m also the founder of the Bristol Womxn Mural Collective, a group that hosts monthly paint jams and was founded to give advice, support and visibility for womxn working in street art.

How did you get involved in this project?
I got involved in September 2020, after the announcement of the new name. I was really interested to be part of the conversations and to explore creative possibilities, as it was such a significant moment of change and re-direction for the organisation, as well as the city.

Together with Rising artists Jasmine Thompson and Greg Keen, I joined weekly meetings with Saboteur Studio and the Beacon marketing team to share our explorations. We did this over Zoom, as the project weaved through multiple lockdowns, tier changes, NHS pings etc.

The overriding principle of our design mission was to ‘set music free’. All creative ideas were embraced. There were some wild experiments, particularly if take in consideration what the common concert hall brand can look like. The no-limits attitude installed by Nick and the Saboteur team was refreshing, and sometimes jarring. Like, really?! Is it OK to print out the wordmark, cut it up, draw over it, photograph it and present it? Yes. The answer would always be, yes.

The by-product of ‘setting music free’ is that at some point, you have to think about limits. Namely: what’s the framework that can hold all these expressive elements? (bursting colours, graphics, photography, typography). So this was an interesting moment to reach.

How would you describe the new Bristol Beacon brand in one sentence?
Expressive. Inclusive. Flexible. Unfiltered. Real. A little wonky. A bit like all of us?

Where did you start? What ideas did you explore?
I was lucky to start the project by visiting the building under construction, wearing a hard hat, high viz and boots that were a little too big.

Seeing the different spaces, moods and architecture gave me a lot of initial ideas. There’s such a contrast between the dark, cool and intimate Cellar spaces, compared to the bright Lantern with its central glass roof. And then there’s the huge concert hall with old brick patterns. I also looked at the architectural features, using the shapes of the arches into my concepts.

I was also interested in the history of the building and the presence of the natural elements: In the recent reconstruction, builders unearthed an Elizabethan well – and I read about the raging fire that burnt down building in the late 1890s. The building merges old and new, and I found these contradictions interesting.

What emerged from this exploration was that the ‘beacon’ isn’t necessarily rooted in the physical space, or even history of the building. Rather, it’s is about light, warmth and welcoming – the idea. So this realisation informed the following design direction.

What was the eureka moment?
I think the eureka moment was when we found a way to combine the lightmark and expressive elements within a frame, which could be adapted to suit a variation of moods. The programming of the Beacon is so varied that it had to work across all events, loud and bright, quiet and reflective. Finding this framework made a lot of the wild exploration fit into place.

What was it like to work on this project?
At the start I didn’t know the way this project would shape. If I’m being real, I thought we would be part of the ‘exploration’ phase, but not necessarily the delivery. Oh how wrong I was!

I think this speaks volumes of how the Beacon and Saboteur have both practiced what they preached: they both created space for new voices, perspectives and trusted young creatives from Bristol to be the heart of the rebrand.

How do you feel now its live?
I’m pinching myself!

Thinking back, I really didn’t anticipate that I would be part of the launch in this way. Let alone imagine that the concept I created would lead the Bristol Beacon visual design.

So it’s surreal, and a massive honour to have been part of the team to bring the Bristol Beacon to life. And my hope is that the branding offers space to future creatives to express themselves – I think that’s a unique thing about this visual identity; it is flexible, adaptable, mouldable.

How do you Make Space for Music in your life/work?
Music is one of the most important ingredients for my creative work. It helps me relax and think freely. But seeing live music is can’t be beaten. My sister has recently pledged to see live music every week, so I will be joining her on this mission!

Music has always been a creative release for me as well, though mostly just for myself. I have a backlog of songs I wrote in the past 15 years, some silly songs…well, pretty much all silly songs. My family also have a tradition of singing, so when the time comes that we’re all together – I’m going to relish that.

What’s next for you and what one thing will you take away from this project?
In the build up to the launch I’ve had the chance to lead on the creative for the Make Space For Music campaign. This has been a huge opportunity, and one I’m really proud of bringing to life – so my take away is that you never know where a creative idea can take you.

And what’s next? Well I’ve recently moved into Centrespace studios, so I’m looking forward to have my own space to paint and create. I’m also preparing a new mural design for the Newlyn Gallery, for an exhibition curated by LGBTQ youth in Cornwall. So I’m looking forward to making that happen.

Bristol Beacon team
Lady Nade, Louise Mitchell and Rosa ter Kulie with the Bristol Beacon team


“Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone involved who made this come to life: Jazz and Greg, and the Rising crew and community, and everyone from the Bristol Beacon and Saboteur who believed in the mission and made space for this collaboration to happen. Thank you, we did this!

Make space to connect, play, shine!

Make space to connect, play, shine!

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