Backstage at The Lowry: Liam Palmer – Graphic Designer

255487_10151414595462724_2073882977_nI grew up in west cumbria, stuck in-between the mountains and the sea. They still speak part-viking there. They have a strong sense of community, surrounded by natural beauty. They’re at least 20 years behind the times, nothing ever happens and nobody ever leaves. I drew and listened to music. I went to college and studied art and design in Carlisle, working in make-shift shacks, making a mess and learning about how to develop ideas artistically. I had really good tutors who pushed creative ideas over polished and slick corporate solutions; “happy accidents” over the clinical approach.

I managed to sneak out of Cumbria when no one was looking, ending up in the far south of the country, Leeds! It’s where I earned a BA in Graphic Arts at Leeds Met. When not eating oversized pasties and checking out gigs I worked on illustration and animation projects, mainly with a 60’s punk DIY attitude, just making what I wanted to make and not relating them closely to money or a career.

After Leeds I ended up in ‘the’ party house of Manchester. I asked for a quiet life and ended up living with 10 guys, most of them in the music industry and half of them fellow Cumbrian escapees. I wanted to try and make a living being artistic and not be too compromised creatively. These jobs don’t exist coming straight out of uni and were especially hard to find for me, lacking a business mind. So, I made loose change in part time admin roles in cupboards in offices around Manchester. Knowing so many musicians I was making album covers for everyone, drawing gig posters, putting on club nights and making a racket. I loved the feeling of getting back a brand new vinyl sleeve I’d created from Sony BMG or Deltasonic Records.

Having a career in the arts happened when I joined Urbis as their Graphic Designer. I really developed with a vast array of jobs flung at me that I had to figure out and create on a deadline. I created marketing material, ‘what’s on’ guides, building signage and gallery identities for exhibitions like ‘Video Game Nation’ and ‘Urban Gardening’. Having to think on my feet, I learned a lot about typography and design and incorporated my illustration style too. Urbis had that DIY attitude; not much money but we made things look good and unique. When Urbis finally closed I worked as a freelance designer and illustrator. I made a meter-long illustrated events map for Cumbria Council, designed websites and created beer labels for a local brewery.

Joining The Lowry as a graphic designer has been great. Taking alot that I learned at Urbis, I brought it to a brand new role. Day to day I create advertisements, banners, brochures and all sorts. I designed and illustrated the show poster for ‘The Tin Ring’, exhibition identities for ‘Alison Goldfrapp: Performer as Curator’ and ‘Harry Goodwin’ to name a few. I’ve also been illustrating charity bags for The Lowry shop based around quotes from famous playwrights. At the moment I am developing The Lowry design guidelines; trying to build an overall look, bringing together all the many departments into one recognisable voice. There are lots of incredible things going on all the time at The Lowry and it’s my job to make them catch someones eye and for them to come over and experience them.