I was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and Adobe to create illustrations for their Reimagine Shakespeare campaign. Aimed at relating classic works to a modern day audience, I was tasked with picturing a scene from Romeo and Juliet in 2019.
My source text was taken from Act 1 Scene 5, which is where our starcrossed lovers from fair Verona meet for the very first time. I chose to place them and their original background into a modern day trendy cafe.
I created five artworks for the commission, which you can see below. I had so much fun revisiting a play I hadn't read since school, and even more fun hiding easter eggs from the text in my illustrations! See how many you can see in the main scene, and then read a list of the hidden references just below.
Here are some of the references I hid in the main illustration. How many did you spot?
- Pasta Veronese, for the setting of the original play
- Love + death potions on the menu board
- The wifi code is ‘where 4 art thou’, a (slightly butchered) line from the play
- Romeo is wearing a Weasley jumper with his initial!
- Juliet has a necklace with her name
- The name of the cafe is Violet’s Delights - in the play one of my favourite lines is ‘these violent delights have violent ends’
- The cafe owner and barista is Violet herself, with delicious purple hair
- The people in the background are having a heated discussion, reflecting the animosity of the scene and the conflict between the Montagues and the Capulets
- Juliet’s nurse and the friar are key secondary characters, who are catching up at the table in the middle
I also drew character studies of Romeo and Juliet:
And perhaps the most fun, was imagining some of their more romantic words as if said via text. If sliding into DM's was possible you can bet our boy Romeo would have been right there.
I would love to know your thoughts on this series. It was a total dream to be asked to work with such a prestigious group, and I thoroughly enjoyed reimagining Shakespeare. You can find out more about the campaign as a whole here.