Les artistes: Full Circle
Lafayette illustrator Kody Chamberlain creates the 2019 Festival International de Louisiane poster and pin, leaving his own personal mark on his hometown cultural tradition
Not to sound cool or like some annoying hipster talking about an Indie band “you’ve probably never heard of,” but Kody Chamberlain festivaled at Festival International before it was the hugely attended event it is today.
Back then (1991, to be specific), the Lafayette illustrator whose art appears in comics and graphic novels published by industry titans like Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and IDW was just a college kid playing in a World Music ensemble orchestrated by Professor Adam Mason, the Director of Percussion Studies at UL back in the day.
There’s a good chance that back in 1991, Festival International-goers heard Chamberlain and the rest of the band (developed through UL) perform. If you were hungry, you might have even seen him perform.
“We weren’t on any of the main stages,” Chamberlain clarifies in self-deprecation, “but we were in the little food court area.”
Fast-forward close to three decades later, and Chamberlain’s talents are once again magnified underneath the Festival International spotlight as he was named the Official Visual Artist for the 33rd annual event – a distinction he calls “an honor” and credits his wife, Kristie, for making come true since she stayed on him and made sure he submitted for consideration before the deadline.
As the festival’s visual artist, Chamberlain created the 2019 poster and pin – a unique project that required the 46-year-old to chronicle back through all the years and all the one-of-a-kind experiences the event blessed him with for inspiration.
“Every project I do is different and requires a bit of a different approach,” Chamberlain says. “So for Festival, I just took a step back and thought about, ‘What’s Really True About Festival?’ And I remember back to last year – I was standing in front of a Chinese throat singer group, and on stage with them was a hip hop group beatboxing, and I was eating a gyro.
“So you think, ‘Wow, this crazy clash of cultures and influences is happening at this very moment.’”
From that, Chamberlain’s poster theme took shape – a creative process he calls “Making Clay,” in homage to classic sculptors. The word “Fusion” stood out from his aforementioned 2018 Festival snapshot, as did the word “Destination” in that downtown Lafayette becomes this harmonious confluence of global representatives matched with the locals of Acadiana – unconventional homecoming, if you will.
After requesting copies of every Festival poster of the past – since he was convinced someone must have done this before – and confirming the idea was original, Chamberlain created the shape of the poster from an overhead abstract map of downtown Lafayette, highlighted by two swirling epicenters that draw in the eyes – the fountain at Parc Sans Souci and a map compass. The abstract map is surrounded by illustrations done in Chamberlain’s signature style of singers, dancers and other international performers.
“It’s one of the few festivals where the world comes to you,” Chamberlain says of Lafayette’s signature cultural event. “You don’t have to leave home to get an incredible experience, to see so many cultures. And that concept – with the Festival being a World Music festival – played right into the poster design.”
Stay Posted: The poster and pin at Festival International have been part of the event’s tradition since its inception, a fun way to fundraise and recognize the robust talents of local artists – such as Kody Chamberlain this year. For those going to Festival, the poster can be purchased at various merchandise kiosks throughout downtown Lafayette. Can’t make it this year? No worries. Chamberlain’s 2019 Festival poster can be purchased at festivalinternational.org/product-category/posters.