This past September, Tel Aviv’s Illustration Week took place for the third time, showcasing the talent of local illustrators in dozens of exhibitions and events all around the city. It was the second time that Wix Design took part in the event.

You maybe asking yourself why an online web company chose to get involved in an illustration festival? To understand better, let’s start from the top. Tel Aviv Illustration Week is a very cool initiative organized by Yuval Sa’ar. Yuval is a local design advocate, who runs his own online magazine, teaches and writes for many more platforms. For the past three years, he has been collaborating with the Tel Aviv Municipality to create the Illustration Week initiative – an annual event celebrating the local illustration community.

It’s been a huge success, and not just within the illustration community – but also among artists, designers and the creative community in general. Naturally, when Yuval approached us to collaborate we immediately jumped on board. We’re always happy to support local efforts and events, especially if we get to use our own in-house talent to be part of the creative project.

Our first year of partnership involved the obvious – designing the event website. But for the second year, we were thrilled to extend our partnership by contributing something more. This year, our studio was in charge of creating the main illustration – the one representing the entire Illustration Week event across a variety of formats.

One of the many formats we had to work on | Bus station poster in Tel Aviv

I sat down with Ariel Wollek, our illustrator from the Wix Design Dev team, who was assigned to the exciting task. I asked him a few questions about the process, the challenges and the gorgeous outcome. Here’s his story:

The Brief
“We received the brief for the project from Yuval Saar & the Tel-Aviv Municipality about five weeks before the event (which meant a very tight schedule!), and were asked to create an urban, upbeat image, including elements from the illustration world as well as the city of Tel Aviv.

We started with a brainstorm session, and then moved on to collecting visual inspirations. There was one specific image I saw that sparked the idea of illustrating Tel-Avivian characters and piecing them together with famous buildings and monuments from around the city. And then I started sketching. The hard part was to find and choose the right buildings and places, and then to match them with the characters I created. We sent out a first draft to the Tel Aviv Municipality, and they really loved it. In fact they liked it so much, they decided to use the image for the entire ‘Celebrating Art Month’ campaign, of which Illustration Week was just a part.”

One of the first skectchs
The different charachters, before they became one image

And then the real work began. After developing each of the characters individually, we decided to try and combine them into one large composition – which turned out to be a great decision. We felt that it conveyed the idea of the brief perfectly – depicting the sense of the city and its rhythm. It worked out really well and also provided us with one main image alongside the individual characters that we could easily utilize for other designs and branding materials.“

The Colors
“The next step in the process was choosing the color palette, which turned out to be exhausting! The first option (Image A, below) included about five colors, as I didn’t want to limit myself. But, when we reviewed it within my team we realized that the colors created visual noise – the over-colorful palette just wasn’t working. So we made the decision; no more than three colors.
With that in mind I went back to the files, and together with the team we experimented with tons of color combinations. The first option we liked was the one with the orange background (Image B, below), and after many more back and forth discussions we actually decided to go with something that was very similar to our first choice. The orange was replaced with a more sophisticated red, and the gradients were removed to make it more elegant.”

The 5 colors are too noisy | Image A
Getting closer to the final choice | Image B

The Formats
“The illustration had to work for many formats: a wide version for the website (which was designed in our studio as well), posters for bus stations, separate versions for each character on different backgrounds, street advertising, magazines, social media and more.
We also created an animated version of the illustration that we used in the website which was created by Guy Garbian, an amazing designer from our broadcast team. It was very cool to work together to bring the illustration to life.”

It’s Alive! | Animation by Guy Garibian

The Challenge
“It was the first time I ever took part in such a huge project, and certainly the first time my work got exposed to such a large and diverse audience (Tel Aviv city!). It was challenging, but also super exciting. The whole process made me especially on edge about making sure that everything was pixel PERFECT, resulting in many sleepless nights But it was well worth it of course. As mentioned earlier, we had a tight schedule with just five weeks for the entire process – from the moment the brief was given till the final files had to be sent out. It was important for me to prove to myself – on a personal and professional level – that I was up to the challenge. It felt like such a rare opportunity that I had to succeed!”

The Outcome
“Eventually all the hard work was well worth it. The feedback was amazing and everyone seemed to enjoy the final result. It was especially gratifying that the initiator of the event and the municipality board loved it. But the most special part was walking around Tel Aviv and seeing my illustrations everywhere; it was just the best feeling ever. I wish I had time to participate in the event itself, even just one of the exhibitions, but there wasn’t any time left on my hands. Thankfully I got to be part of it in a very cool and different way!”