As the dedicated band of volunteers who put together the Rhythms of the World festival start picking up the pace ahead of June’s big event at Hitchin Priory, we’ll soon be seeing Dan Bramall’s cute critters again.

The Comet: Artwork by North Herts graphic artist Dan BramallArtwork by North Herts graphic artist Dan Bramall (Image: Archant)

The familiar graphics, featured on the festival website, adverts and social media, have become part of the festival’s identity – but they’re only a part of what this prolific graphic artist has in his portfolio.

And Dan’s an example of a growing sort of one-man band – someone who works alongside others, who may have no connection to his own field of expertise, in an environment that allows people to get the benefits of an ‘office’ feel and avoid some of the pitfalls that can come with a solitary set-up.

After being head-hunted at university to join Littlewoods Dan then worked with an educational publisher, developing his skills to take advantage of new technology, but all the time he had a creative itch that needed to be scratched.

A return to study and an MA in illustration opened the door to children’s publishing, working with some of the biggest names in the business on book covers.

Then came the time to take the plunge. “I had always been doing my own artwork so decided that being my own boss was the future for me, as difficult as it was to miss out on a regular wage.” he recalled.

The creative side is Dan’s passion, so the mundane tasks of keeping a business going don’t come easily. He cheerfully admits to being one of the taxpayers who leave their return to the last minute, but paperwork isn’t the biggest challenge.

“Finding work is definitely the hardest part of the job,” he said. “I don’t like selling myself so find calling potential clients excruciating. A lot of my work comes from past colleagues and friends but I do get contacted by new clients who see my work and see something in it that can help their business.

“Illustration is massively competitive but I am hoping that now I have a lovely new website – – I will attract a wider range of clients from all over the world.”

But it’s a labour of love closer to home that he’s best known for in North Herts. He became a Rhythms volunteer after responding to a social media appeal for help – the festival was one of the reasons Dan and wife Camille moved to the town from London five years ago.

He said: “I was looking to meet more people locally and wanted to contribute to the community.

“I started working on a complete rebrand of the event alongside Mark Sharp who runs Inky Design Graphics. We wanted to bring it up to date and make all marketing material more consistent.

“But this didn’t mean that it couldn’t be fun so I came up with the idea of the musical animals and, along with the dancing man, they are now widely recognised as the visual identity for Rhythms.

“The animals represent the variety of music at the festival and each one comes from a different continent. The rebrand and work for the 2014 festival was a great success and I was so proud to see my artwork come to life on site in August.

“Unfortunately, as we only have limited time to run our businesses, Mark and I have had to take a step back this year though we have helped to recruit talented people to continue the good work.”

Meanwhile Dan is enjoying the variety of projects that come his way, and extending his skills so that he can turn his hand to any job that requires eye-catching and effective design, in any medium.

Although he’s experimented with ‘working from home’, his place of work now the Pixmore Business Centre in Letchworth, where he shares space with other owner-operators and small businesses as diverse as a theatre company, surveyors, office admin experts and even a science journalist.

The human contact is important, he believes, and he says it’s surprising how often the disparate businesses are able to help each other.