← Graphic Design Projects

Tall Ships Celebration

The Tall Ship Celebration is a triennial event held in Bay City that sees a fleet of historic replica sailing vessels make their way into port. Visitors can watch these grand ships take to the docks, enjoy a weekend-long series of activities and shows, and learn more about nautical history as they tour these magnificent vessels in-person.


In previous years, promotional materials relied on simple vector illustrations and elaborate photo treatments. This lent a modern feel to much of the advertising, but it didn’t speak to the rich history that was the very soul of the Tall Ship Celebration. Early on, we decided to lean into the past and took inspiration from nautical etchings and antique maps and globes. We developed illustrations featuring actual ships that would appear at the event, such as the Picton Castle. Graphic elements like rope borders, captain’s wheels, rocks, waves, and seafloors were created by hand. Despite the advantages of our modern technology, it was a laborious process that, in some small way, felt like a tribute to the cartographers and engravers of the past.


This would be no small undertaking. We produced dozens and dozens of pieces for the event, from print ads and billboards to t-shirts and event signage. Digital materials needed to be developed for the Tall Ship Celebration as well as Ballads & Brews, a swashbuckling musical event that transported event goers to a raucous high seas concert.


While the list of deliverables was extensive, we took great efforts to carry out a cohesive visual style steeped in the history and tradition that the event celebrated. From the type treatments to the palette, every click and keystroke sought to elevate the identity of the Tall Ship Celebration and honor the centuries-old seafaring traditions embodied by the incredible vessels themselves.