Melbourne Fringe approached us early in 2009 with a challenge; they wanted to change their public perception as the ‘wacky’ alternative arts festival. They wanted to champion the independent arts without scaring away the general public, and of course they needed to grow their ticket base. We began with a corporate rebranding of the Melbourne Fringe organisation; and then worked on re-imagining the identity of the annual festival. As a part of Fringe’s renewed marketing campaign, the project was a resounding success; the festival recorded a 42% annual growth in ticket sales.

Melbourne Fringe

XYZ Studios — TV commercial

The Fringe Forms

Early on it became clear that we needed an identity system that was unique to Melbourne Fringe; something that could be built upon every year to reinforce the festival’s unique position in the community. We wanted something tactile and colourful; and it needed to have many versatile uses. We came up with these fun looking little shapes; which are constructed from square based pyramids. The tops of each of pyramids are cut off at five different heights, which provides us with five different shaped Forms, each with different sized squares on top. Keep these squares in mind while looking over the next few images.

Fringe out of Forms

We ordered two and a half thousand Fringe Forms, and we spelt out the word “Fringe” on an 6 metre mini-billboard. We actually only used 500 or so for this main installation, but there were also a few copies made for other pieces of signage. We gathered our Forms, twenty volunteers, some scaffolding, and a lot of double sided tape and dragged everything up onto a city rooftop. The CBD backdrop proved to be the perfect partner for our sign, and meant that the Festival was undeniably rooted in Melbourne.

Name in lights

Oh yes, we also put a little LED torch inside every one of the Fringe Forms, so the sign lit up at night.

TV commercial

In a collaboration with XYZ Studios, we filmed the sign’s construction as a stop motion sequence from three different angles. XYZ added some great detail shots and cut this fantastic TV commercial together.


It was very lucky that we had so many volunteers on hand; some of the double sided tape that was used was faulty and the Forms had a habit of falling off the sign.

Festival guide covers

The front of the Guide was the sign during the day, and the back was the sign lighting up at dusk.

Festival guide spreads

The background of most pages featured chronological photos of the signage being constructed; so it was just scaffolding on page 4 and completed on page 62.

The corporate logos

If we have five different Forms; surely there should be five different logos? Note also that the word Fringe has been built from different sizes of squares; referencing the five square topped Fringe Forms.

The type system

Why make the letters out of different sized squares? It does two things: firstly, The typography itself has a “fringe” – a slightly blurry silhouette – Fringe has a “fringe” (haha!); secondly, it means that we can build letters out of the Forms. What? Don’t worry; it’ll all become clear a little later on.

Shapes from the sky

The Forms have another obvious appeal; as beautiful abstract shapes. We strung them up from fishing line and the sky appears to be raining colour – what a nice metaphor for the festival!


This image shows the reverse side of an individual business card and the A4 corporate letterhead. Notice how the letterhead is composed of slick vector versions of the Fringe Forms, while the business card has less formal photographic versions? Business up front; party in the rear. We took five different photos of the floating shapes and asked the staff to choose their favourite for the reverse of their own cards. Reports of blood noses and tantrums have been difficult to confirm or deny.


Rather than print an expensive run of envelopes, we chose to design a multi purpose stamp that could be used on anything. A repeating pattern of forms was applied to a self inking roller stamp, allowing staff to roll their branding onto envelopes, with compliments slips and even shipping boxes.

Postcard and mini guides

Avant Card distributed pocket sized mini guides and postcards for the festival.


We designed plexiglass trophies for winners of the annual festival awards.


Fringe invites a few hundred people to it’s media launch every year; and it wanted to give them a little taste of the Festival Guide without giving the whole game away. So we built a tiny sign on a whiteboard and took a photo up on the same roof.

Digital Fringe

As an annual Program Partner, the Digital Fringe program needed an image to tie it in with the main festival. Since Digital Fringe prides itself on displaying art in unconventional places, we decided to attach some Fringe Forms to an old TV in Jonno’s backyard.