Dribble Behance Instagram Twitter Facebook
Folio illustration agency, established London 1976

News Archive

Muti Illustrates for The Guardian

Muti Muti designs maps to be released in The Guardian

South African creative studio Muti has designed a set of maps in collaboration with Destination Canada and The Guardian to promote tourism and knowledge of what Canada’s major cities have to offer. The maps center around cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. Muti’s sleek and modern design style was perfect for bringing vibrancy and life to the city maps of Canada.

The idea behind the maps was a collaborative effort between The Guardian and Destination Canada. The elements of each unique illustration were inspired with the help of John Quilter, a food blogger who dedicated months to travelling across Canada, eating, sight seeing, and blogging. There are 7 maps in total, each aiming to promote Canada’s tourism and give people a snapshot of what it would be like to visit some of their major cities. The maps highlight places of interest, activities, and restaurants.

We had a chat with Muti to get their perspective on the project. Here’s what they had to say!

How did you decide to approach this specific job?

A starting point was the stylistic approach to the two main map elements: characters and buildings. We kept the buildings geometric, simplified and stylized yet still recognisable. The characters have more of an organic shape and movement to them, making the piece as a whole more relatable and dynamic.

Can you elaborate on your choice of colour palette?

The client requested a bright and fun colour palette, which we maintained throughout. We wanted the maps to feel vibrant and exciting to look at. We took a natural approach to land and sea – areas that were largely city were kept in a neutral grey, whilst trees were kept in a lush green.

Any other general thoughts on the project?

Having several maps to illustrate in the same style and same colour palette can be quite challenging. We started by creating elements that could be carried across all maps, but found a way to add humour and interest so that each map could be able to stand alone as a unique piece.

The high quality maps will be published weekly in the Guardian’s weekend supplements. All 7 colorful illustrations will be paired with detailed itineraries of what can be done in a day in each city. Be sure to check them out each weekend and get inspired to plan your next vacation!

Posted: 28-Oct-16   //   Permalink   //   Top


Nick began life as an illustration agent when he started working for Andy Archer in 1971.

Andy had previously spent five or six years selling space in Queen magazine to ad agencies – he was good at sales and had ad agency contacts. Andy set himself up as an agent and took Nick on, teaching him how to hustle on behalf of the artists. Nick had been introduced to Andy by his good friend, the artist George Underwood, who Andy represented. Nick was fascinated when watching George draw and paint works such as the early Marc Bolan album covers and was happy to get to know other talented artists as an agent. At the time, Andy was part of London’s legendary bohemian scene centred around the French House and the Colony Room in Soho – Nick became the Colony’s youngest member and when there he was introduced to many of the leading musicians and artists of the time, including Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud.

With five years of experience under his belt, Nick struck out on his own and founded Folio 26th October 1976. There were still just a handful of agencies in the UK at the time and Folio is the only one that continues in its original form; run by its founder.

After a year in a basement shop in Edgeware, in 1977 Folio moved to Lincoln’s Inn Fields, where its studio office was furbished with plan-chest drawers, transparency holders and state-of-the-art lighting and ample flat surfaces – not to mention, of course, a bar. Every Friday, art buyers and artists from across the country would come together at Folio studios to socialise and check out the latest artworks. Folio is still based in the same venue today – see office photo. For a period, several artists were based at Folio and would habitually work through the night to meet deadlines – the office became known locally as ‘the lighthouse’.

In a pre-digital time, all work was physical. The artists worked on paper, artboard or canvas. Every work that came through the office was photographed on 5x4 transparencies and stored. If you called an artist, such as Paul Hogarth, and they were in middle of a watercolour wash, they couldn’t be interrupted. A1 portfolios were lugged around or carefully packaged for shipment. In order for clients to see the work, it had to be couriered to them, whether they were in London, elsewhere in the UK or overseas. Amendments were a huge effort; if they were required, not only did the artist need to find a way to redraw the artwork but the physical object also needed to be couriered back to the artist – and then the process began again. Oil paintings took five days to dry, but deadlines were tight that they would have to be packed in deep frames for shipping while the paint was still wet. Nick would spend many a night waiting on train platforms for the Red Star Express with the work. Twice works fell onto the tracks and were run over by trains, and one internationally couriered artwork even arrived with an aircraft tyre print running across it!

In the early days, the artists themselves always had highly developed drawing skills, usually born from hours of life-drawing, and this talent meant that they could handle any kind of job. Today’s artists are often more developed in terms of graphic techniques. What has kept Nick in the business is the love of seeing the artworks created. He has worked with Royal Academicians and D&AD Black Pencil award winners, trend-setters and innovators. In his pre-Folio days working for Andy Archer, Nick even worked with Salvador Dalí – not an easy artist to commission!

Folio has always tried to find new ways to promote itself, whether that it is through the DoI, events or, more recently, through the web and online social media. The importance of self-promotion was impressed upon Nick by his mentor Andy, who once concluded a presentation at JWT by unveiling a freestanding life-size picture of himself which he then left behind so that the art directors would remember who to call whenever they needed to commission artwork.

One of the principles that Folio was founded on was the protection of the artists. It used to be that artists had to sign the back of the cheques they received from publishers, and this signature was an agreement to sign away the copyright of their works. The AoI was founded by illustration agents, Nick included, in order to protect artists so that they didn’t have to sign away the copyright of their works, amongst other things. While that battle seemed to have been won, the situation is beginning to regress again now, as clients increasingly expect copyright buyout or perpetual worldwide use, or want artwork delivered in digital layers so that they can adjust it themselves or merge in other imagery, thus throwing the issue of the artists copyright and moral rights into question.

The longevity of Folio is down to its willingness to refresh itself with new talent, even from its early days – new artists are taken on all the time, bringing novel techniques, new ideas and fresh eyes. Folio has always prided itself on working with originators: ‘often imitated, never duplicated’.

All photos taken by Dick Jordan.

Posted: 25-Oct-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

New Portfolio Update!

James Gilleard debut’s new portfolio style!

Out with the old, in with the new! James Gilleard is hitting the refresh button and taking his illustrative style in a whole new direction. Still drawing from his experience living in Japan, his new portfolio features a mix of landscapes, architecture, technology, and characters.

Each illustration is bursting with vibrant colors and amazing texture. James experiments with geometric shapes and futuristic ideas to create unique and inspiring illustrations. We are very excited for this new stylistic direction and what it has to offer in today’s creative world.

Be sure to check out James’ fantastic new work!

Posted: 21-Oct-16   //   Permalink   //   Top



Folio Portfolio
Folio Gold
Folio Showcase