The Holiday Inn in Camden, London is a venue you associate more with provincial rock fans getting a few hours kip after sweaty metal club Sin City that upbeat typography – but illustrator Tobias Hall wanted to tap into the brighter textures of the arguably-Camden-birthed Britpop movement to create a welcoming vibe you might not expect from the budget hotel chain.
Tobias hand-lettered lyrics from some of the best-known Britpop songs – Blur's Parklife, Supergrass' Alright and Oasis' Wonderwall – across the walls of the hotel foyer in manner that can be described as nice and clean, and a bit more than alriiiiiight (stop that now, Ed).
We caught up with Tobias to find out more about the project
DA: How did you get the gig?
TH: "It was actually supposed to happen about 10 months ago. The interior designer in charge of the hotel refurb had seen various murals that i'd done for Zizzi [where Tobias works in-house] in the past and was keen to get me on board, but then the project just went quiet. Thankfully they got back in touch a couple months back."
DA: What was the brief?
TH: "Initially they wanted me to paint road names from the local area, but i really felt that we could come up with something more engaging, so pushed for the song-lyrics idea. Camden is widely recognised as the birth place of Britpop music, and music is still a massive part of the local culture, so it seemed like a good way of making sure the mural was inspired by the local area, but not so obviously as to feel cliche'd.
DA: How did you pick the songs?
TH: "I think the first criterion was that each song had to be well-known; I wanted people to start singing the song to themselves as soon as they had read the lyric. There's something really playful about that. The second was that they obviously had to be feel-good songs – as you can imagine, there's plenty of fairly melancholic Britpop songs.
"Then there were a couple of the lyrics that related to Camden, or the hotel itself: the extract from Blur's Parklife – "All the people / so many people / they all go hand in hand" – was really reminiscent of a sunny weekend on a teeming Camden high street.
The lyrics from Supergrass' Alright – "...see our friends / see the sights / feel alright" – essentially describe what you might do when you're staying at the Holiday Inn in Camden.
DA: Did you vary the styling of the lettering of each song?
TH: "Not really for each song, no. I tried to make sure that the letterforms themselves were in-keeping with the word they were making – so for example 'We are young' was written in a casual, flowing and playful style, whereas 'feel alright' needed to have impact so i used a condensed header style.
"It was quite difficult to get the balance between having so many lettering styles that it became overwhelming and too few as to make it repetitive, but I think we just about got there."
DA: What's next?
TH: "There's another mural for a Bristol-based design agency in the pipeline, which i'm pretty excited about. Zizzi will be keeping me busy with various comms campaigns and I also hope to finish a self-initiated set of illustrations of musicians in the next couple of weeks or so. So there's lots to be getting on with!"