Guillaume Grando’s aquatic poster chosen for the Montreux Jazz Festival

Back on June 30, 2023 and until July 15, the Montreux Jazz Festival has long entrusted the design of its poster to artists and gives them carte blanche to create what they want. Artists such as Keith Herring, Andy Warhol and David Bowie have all contributed to the festival’s poster art in the past, and now Guillaume joins their ranks with his aquatic artwork.

Described as “radical and enigmatic” by the organizers of the festival, Guillaume’s poster is radically different from the colorful one designed by Camille Walala last year. While hers was an explosion of color and form, this one is darker, more subdued and yet no less captivating.

Influenced by the ripples on the surface of breathtaking Lake Geneva, a body of water closely linked to the festival, Guillaume’s design sees its surface illuminated by the events taking place on its bustling waterfront. And as well as evoking the region’s natural beauty, the energy and vibrancy of the festival is captured in its flowing and mesmerizing finale.

“I am incredibly proud to have been asked to design the poster for the 57th edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival,” Guillaume told Creative Boom. “It is an honor to work for this legendary musical event and to join a list of some of the most radical, iconic and avant-garde artists who have designed its poster.

“As a passionate surfer, I spend a lot of time in the ocean observing nature, and more particularly water: its material, its color, its movement and its interaction with light. I was struck by the particularity of Lake Geneva during my participation in the Festival in 2018, so I aimed to capture this beauty and this allure in my design.”



Pier Arnold’s 1994 poster also featured Lake Geneva

Zep included the lake in their 2005 poster



Zep included the lake in their 2005 poster

Bruno Caeng's 1974 poster also included the lake in a reduced capacity



Bruno Caeng’s 1974 poster also included the lake in a reduced capacity

To bring his concept to life, Guillaume used the complex processes that have defined many of his works. Starting from a wooden support, he applies several layers of acrylic paint and resin before sanding and sculpting them to reproduce the texture of water and the illusion of light passing through it.

Once this step was completed and the physical object finished, Guillaume took different photos of the artwork, which were then used to form the final image that became the poster. Then all that was left to do was digitally add the distorted typography, which bends and curves to create the illusion that it’s below the surface.

This poster is not the first time that Lake Geneva has been used in a musical context. It has appeared on numerous album covers, been mentioned in Deep People’s iconic hit, Smoke on the Water, and every year during the Montreux Jazz Festival, it invites guests and artists to swim in its depths. However, it does not often appear on official posters, only Bruno Gaeng’s postcard poster (1974), Per Arnoldi’s Swan-Saxophone (1994) and Zep’s Sirens (2005) are inspired by it so far. now.

“In the refined style that characterizes his work, [Guillaume] moves away from the tourist image of Lake Geneva to extract the essential”, adds the Montreux Jazz Festival website. The physical work, without typography, will be exhibited during the 57th Montreux Jazz Festival, which will take place from June 30 to July 15, 2023.

Willie J. Johnson