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Meet the designer behind our Brilliant Brighton banners: Ilona Drew

This summer our city centre’s streets have been well and truly brightened up by bold and beautiful banners (organised by Brilliant Brighton) and created by local artist Ilona Drew of I Drew This.

From disco balls to Komedia’s iconic striped can-can legs, as well as cheery slogans such as ‘B RIGHT ON’ and ‘BE UNIQUE’, the bright artwork has been adding colour and fun to Western Road and North Street since early May and will continue to do so until September.

We caught up with the award-winning illustrator and surface pattern designer to hear about her designs and her love for the city…

Hi Ilona! How long have you being designing?

Well, I guess you could say since I started college! A long time ago now but that was when my creative journey started and I began thinking about how I would put colour together and techniques.

What has been your story so far?

I studied Surface Pattern design at university which meant the application of pattern to paper, textiles, glass and ceramics and it was all very arty and hands on, computers were only just coming in then as a medium and I was keen to learn more. I did an MA and specialised in Photoshop which gave me a knowledge which helped me get my first in-house designer job. I then worked as a designer for six years mainly designing greeting cards for the high street. Once I went freelance, I wanted to find a way of combining my experimental arty side with the design skills I had gained and my company I Drew This began. Nine years on and my adaptable approach to my design work is now meaning I work on a variety of briefs some more design and some more illustrative and some which gets described as art!

What have you enjoyed most about the Brilliant Brighton banner project?

The fact that it meant I could explore the things that I love about Brighton and go crazy with bold images and colour.

Do you have a fave?

I really love the heart, so simple but a red heart has featured in so much of my work along the way.

What has it been like to get such lovely comments on your beautiful designs?

I am just so happy to hear such positivity and warmth about my designs and which ones are favourites. People sharing photos of them on Instagram has been brilliant too, keep them coming they look great!

How has it felt to see them when you’ve been out and about?

I have felt ever so proud and I love looking up at them in different weather conditions, they definitely look best with a clear blue sky behind them.

The banners are part of Brilliant Brighton’s annual Dressing The City campaign (which also includes bunting – designed by artist Finlay Coupar – and hanging baskets). Ilona’s designs were chosen by representatives of the 517 businesses who make up Brilliant Brighton (also known as Brighton’s Business Improvement District). Read more about them here.

If you love Ilona’s colourful range, she has designed greeting cards, coasters, magnets, tea towels, prints and finally a one-off glitter ball original painting through her stockist Present in the Laine in Gardner Street, inspired by her Brilliant Brighton banners. Shop these at 34 Gardner Street, Brighton.