The Creative City exhibition

The Creative City is an exhibition that signalled the start of the 2021 Birmingham Design Festival. Its aim was to showcase the talent in the West Midlands by setting a simple brief that would allow the participants to flex their creative muscles and celebrate the city in a colourful way by creating a poster. I was pleased to be able to both design a poster and be part of the team putting on the exhibition. 

The three word brief ‘The Creative City’ was sent to the 99 designers, artists, illustrators and print makers along with a set of colours that had to be used. The rest was up to them – free rein to interpret the brief however they wished and show-off their skills.

A number of the final entries were exhibited around the city on billboards and all were shown at a brief exhibition at Factory Works, Digbeth from 16th–17th August 2021. The scale of the posters, the wealth of colour and a diverse range of styles made for an impressive display. Catalogues of all the work were for sale, printed superbly by local firm Clarkeprint, on G.F Smith papers. 

Following the exhibition, the posters were available to buy through an online auction with proceeds split between Birmingham Design Festival to fund future events, the artists and local charity SIFA Fireside. The one-off, ‘actual size’ prints raised close to £6,000.

About Studio Denley’s poster design

The poster design for the exhibition is inspired by Birmingham’s position as a creative hub. It’s the birthplace of many inventions, movements and ideas. Each panel in the artwork celebrates a creative sector and features an icon that Birmingham is known for.

November update!

The exhibition lives on! Following the success of the show and auction, all but one of the pieces are now on display in Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre. A corner of the mall that had housed the Debenhams department store has been brightened up with a much needed explosion of colour. 

Exhibition photos by Thom Bartley.

You can see all of the artworks and find out more about the artists by visiting

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