Tirgan is a summer festival in Toronto. It is a celebration of Iranian culture, food, dance, and music. I've had the pleasure of being Tirgan's creative director from its humble inception in 2008. Today it is a recognized name among Toronto's busy festival calendar.
2008: The beginnings
The first festival was held in 2008 by a small group of volunteer organizers, under a different name: "Once upon a time." I was asked to create the festival's logo and visual identity and help produce all the festival assets. I wanted the festival's posters to capture the fun, vibrant, and lively atmosphere that the event promised, while helping people anticipate the type of activities being offered. Arabesque flourishes hinted at the festival's Persian roots.
2011: Tirgan gets its name
In 2011 the festival was permanently renamed to Tirgan. Tirgan's roots date back thousands of years to an ancient celebration, and we wanted a new identity to reflect and celebrate the enduring nature of the occasion. Because people were already familiar with the previous festival's branding, I wanted the new logo to feel like a logical evolution of the old one and contain the same essential elements; uplifting colours and Persian typography. It was ultimately the tree motif that emerged as our final brand.
The plan was for each festival to have a distinct visual theme. For the 2011 edition, I created a visual language inspired by Persian tapestry. With our event line-up changing frequently, this design allowed us to scale and adapt quickly.
2013: Bigger and better
By 2013 Tirgan was already in its third edition and was attracting crowds of well over 100,000. My theme for the 2013 edition of the festival was 'colliding worlds,' an affirmation of the dichotomy between the festivals' western physical setting and its eastern cultural content. With the festival itself growing, we had many more assets to produce; posters, event booths, print ads, festival programs, sponsorship guides, merchandising, signage. In addition to overseeing the production of all these assets, I also designed the UX and user interface for our iPhone app. We made gratuitous use of Sam Javanrouh's brilliant photos of Toronto, who graciously allowed us to use them.
2015: Tirgan turns 5
2015 was a special year because it was our 5th edition of the festival. By now Tirgan now had its own office and permanent staff, in addition to our passionate and ever-growing volunteers. It was also the first time I was working with the team remotely after having moved to San Francisco.
I was itching for a more illustrative style this time, and after exploring several directions I ended up with the 'halves' concept, showing cross-sections of elements that have similar significance in both Iranian and Canadian cultures.
In addition to creative direction for the festival, I also updated the design of our app to be compatible with the newer iOS version as well as our updated festival theme.
It's been incredibly rewarding to look back and watch the festival grow over the years and see in it a reflection of my own growth as a designer. In many ways Tirgan has been a model for other Iranian festivals around the world, and I can't wait to see what they do next.