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Andy Williams

Andy Williams et al 

Photograph Credit: peter marsh\ashmore visuals

Andy is Head of the award-winning Graphic Design Department at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon and Fellow of Creativity at the Capital Centre (October-December 2008). Andy has art-directed images with many actors including Judi Dench, David Tennant, Ralph Fiennes, Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart and Damian Lewis. In creating these images he has worked with many classical theatre directors including Michael Boyd (Artistic Director of the RSC), Greg Doran (Chief Associate Director RSC); Michael Attenborough (Artistic Director Almeida) and Dominic Cooke (Artistic Director Royal Court).(Some of his design work is currently on view in the foyer of the CAPITAL Centre: the four most recent Hamlet posters are his.) As Head of RSC Graphic Design Andy is responsible for the direction of the look of the RSC, image creation and aspects of the design of the audience-facing areas of the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Andy has extensive commercial work experience in packaging, exhibition, corporate design, calligraphy, book and cover design, sign design, strategic design and brand creation and a first degree from the University of Reading. There is an exhibition of Hamlet posters from RSC productions over 30 years in the Capital Centre foyer, Milburn House, to accompany the project.

His project was titled Text and Message: Exploring Traditional and Contemporary Influence in Classical Theatre Graphic Design. His objectives were

To broaden my experience as RSC Head of Graphic Design by experiencing an academic environment, while working with, and learning from theatre academics and young people for mutual benefit

As the person responsible for the RSC Brand, this offers an opportunity to step back and reflect from an outside perspective, with the aim of refreshing and refining the graphic look of the whole organisation in light of the new theatre building in Stratford-upon-Avon

To explore new ways of combining old (theatrically traditional) and contemporary elements (including techniques) in images and graphic designs for modern classical theatre.

To create, in collaboration with students and theatre specialists at the University, a series of bold and ground-breaking exploratory images, for example leaflets, posters and programmes in both print and digital formats. The aim of these is to anticipate the opening of the new RST in 2010, in an exciting and artistically pioneering way.

Work alongside students to explore ways of using design to speak to new and non-traditional theatre audiences.

To create a style of imagery and design that would convince an audience, and the wider theatrical community and the media, that the traditional excellence of the RSC is being upheld whilst also announcing and celebrating a new and live event in a new theatre. There will be a particular interest here in the dialogue between painting and photography, which has been at the heart of the graphic design approach during my time as head of the department.

To explore, influence and open up a dialogue between new visual elements, which will look towards a new and distinctive style.

Listen to Andy talking about his Fellowship project


Directing the Image

In the Autumn Term Andy led a short project with students, creating and directing a Shakespeare-inspired image.

Working initially with Carol Rutter (Director of the Capital Centre) to discuss short passages of text from A Midsummer Night's Dream and look at some film footage for inspiration, the project explored the creation of an image through discussion and practical implementation — a process of conversion from text into image that simulates the way a theatre director puts a production onto the stage. The project wasn't about technique and achieving a highly technically accomplished finished piece; it was about creative thinking and experiencing the processes involved in making an image. The project will culminate with an exhibition in the Capital Centre.

Duration of project

5 weeks in the autumn term starting on Wednesday 22 October, 5-7pm in the Studio at the Capital Centre, with 5 x 2-hour sessions, culminating in an exhibition in the last week of term.


15 students from across the University collaborated on this project. No experience of making images wasrequired. The project required creative energy and confidence to be creatively open with other participants.

The outcomes:

  • An insight into the creative professional processes that go into making an image at a world-renowned classical theatre company.
    An understanding of how to problem-solve creatively.
    Some transferable skills that come from understanding and incorporating outside influences into your creative work and learning how to pull off an idea and manage your own, and others peoples', expectations.