Posted by Jasmine Munn
7 April, 2017

Recently we worked on the second edition of Houmout, the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery’s yearly gazette. Once again we dipped into Falmouth University’s talent pool to find an illustrator to collaborate with.

Falmouth University is a great place to source talent, drawing creatives from all over the country down to Cornwall. Many of us on the Nixon team (including yours truly) are former Falmouth students, with qualifications ranging from English and design degrees to an MBA and even a PhD. Every year we flick through student portfolios looking for promising illustrators and designers to intern with us on different projects.

One such project is Houmout, the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery’s annual newspaper. Now in its second year, Houmout features a wealth of content on Cornish horticulture, aimed at everyone from green-fingered enthusiasts to beginner gardeners. It’s a relaxed way of informing people about gardening and the local area, positioning the nursery as leaders in their field while adding another layer of depth to their offering.

Inside the Duchy of Nursery's gazette, Houmout

Creative collaboration

As with the first edition, we collaborated with Falmouth University, commissioning one of their students to create some artwork for the spreads. For this issue we chose third-year illustration student Charlotte Humphries. Her style is generally bright and sharp, which is a huge contrast to the calmness of the newspaper, but we could see how it would work.

Illustrator Charlotte Humphries drying a screen-print An illustration by artist Charlotte Humphries

The brief

Her brief was fairly open – the illustrations had to align with the brand identity and the newspaper design, but other than those there were no strict rules. Design-wise, my aim was to celebrate the content. Designing for editorial you almost have to try to be invisible. Yes, you want people to appreciate your work, but you want it to feel so natural that it goes unnoticed. The most important thing is not to deter from the content at all: you want to put it on a pedestal and make it shine. The illustrations needed to do the same – they needed to support the content, not compete with it.

After we threw a few ideas around, Charlotte got stuck in and produced beautiful results using a mixture of collaging and screen-printing, often experimenting with type and layers of textures. We worked closely together, sharing ideas and feeding off each other’s creativity. The illustrations started to take shape, and I adapted the design to pull them into the publication.

A double spread in Houmout, illustrated by Charlotte Humphries and designed by Nixon Design

The result

Before we knew it, her few weeks were up. Charlotte’s artwork infused the pages of Houmout with an atmospheric and surreal beauty, and the clean layout meant that her illustrated spreads didn’t interfere with the design. It was great working with her in the studio; I think this kind of close collaboration brings out the best in us creative types. We’ve just started getting applications for this year’s interns and I can’t wait for my next collaborative project. If you’re thinking about an internship, send us your portfolio – we’re always looking for fresh talent.

The 2017 issue of Houmout launched earlier this year. You can read and download it online, or pick up your free copy from the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery in Lostwithiel. Perched on the eastern slope of the Fowey Valley, just across the river from Restormel Castle, the nursery’s well worth a visit.

A double spread illustration by Charlotte Humphries in Houmout, which was designed by Nixon Inside Houmout, a publication designed by Nixon for the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery

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