How a talented designer made the world greener one beautiful illustration at a time – With an Annual 2021 Bronze winner | #AnnualSpotlight

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The Annual 2021 winners have been revealed over summer, with some of the most exciting professionals in the history of Creativepool. Who are these amazing people and why do they represent the best of the best in the realm of creativity?

Clearly not content with having won two Bronzes in The Annual 2020, James Round returned this year with great ambition and yet another range of impressive graphic projects, including one he's particularly proud of: the Resources Magazine. His works were able to impress the judges yet again this year, and James was awarded another two Bronzes in 2021, in Graphic and Covid-19 respectively. Will 2022 be the year he breaks through to the Silver? We know we certainly hope so!

In this Annual 2021 Spotlight, we are learning more about James Round, Independent Graphic Designer and Illustrator with a much colourful style we can't help but love ourselves.

View The Annual 2021 Winners!


What was the brief?

Published since 1959 by Resources for the Future (RFF), Resources is the world’s leading magazine for breakthrough environmental, energy, and natural resource ideas. In late 2019, I was asked to provide a visual update for the magazine, in order to provide a contemporary aesthetic to showcase their important research. Since then I have worked closely with Resources Managing Editor, Elizabeth Wason, to create three issues a year, and it was the second issue that we collaborated on which was recognised in this year's Creativepool Awards.

Tell us more about the concept. How did it come to life, and why was it the right choice?

The magazine is a serious, research-focused publication, so the design needed to provide layouts that could accommodate detail-orientated and complex content, but still create an aesthetic that could explain and explore this work with elegance and clarity. To this end, the basic structure is elaborate enough to allow for flexibility and creativity, but crafted enough that each element has room to breathe, and no page feels too busy or overbearing. Illustrations and infographics are featured throughout to bring the pages to life, and colours are muted but used generously to create a vibrance that is tonally appropriate. 


What do you think impressed the judges about this project?

My ambition with the magazine was always to make it seem like a team of people designed it, rather than just one person. I wanted it to feel like a really crafted printed product, and one that showcased RFF’s research in the most creative ways possible. This issue marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency – three milestones that were rich with creative opportunities. 

I think the judges recognised the considerable effect that went into pulling this issue together, and I hope they enjoyed the various creative elements amongst its pages; be it the general layout design, the numerous illustrations I contributed, the wonderful commissions from Yukai Du, Jones & Co and Chiara Ghigliazza, or the complex gatefold data visualization exploring the history of Earth Day against a backdrop of US air pollution. 


What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

RFF’s research is so crucial, and Resources is one of their most accessible means of sharing what they do. I hope that through my work on the magazine, I’ve implemented design as a powerful tool through which to help them showcase and communicate their research.

What advice would you share with other agencies and individuals looking to grab an award?

I think the most important thing when entering the awards is to make sure that your project has a compelling story to tell. It doesn’t have to be an expansive campaign, or for a massive client; great creative work comes in all forms, and if it has something interesting to say, people will respond to it. 


What is your most exciting project in the next year?

There’ll certainly be more issues of Resources, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we can further develop the magazine over the next year. Outside of that, I recently completed an extensive icon library and some hero illustrations for a science publishing platform, as part of a larger rebrand. It launches next month which I’m really excited about. Finally, I’m currently working with various environmental and conservation clients on projects relating to the upcoming COP26 summit, and I feel very proud to be able to contribute, even in a small way, to this critical moment in addressing the climate crisis. 

Will you enter again in 2022? If so, what are your hopes?

Yes of course! I’d really like to win a silver or gold, and although I didn’t quite manage it this year, I’m feeling optimistic about 2022!


How do you plan to display your award?

The award will sit proudly on my office wall, along with my 2020 Annual awards.

Credit list for the project?

Elizabeth Wason - Resources Managing Editor


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