2018-07-26 / News

Promoting yacht race is in artistic hands


DUTTON DUTTON Since 2011, the Conanicut Yacht Club has marketed its flagship regatta by showcasing town landmarks through the eyes of a local graphic designer.

This year’s winner is Conanicut Island Light.

For the posters promoting the 2018 Around the Island Race, which grace restaurant walls and public bulletin boards, Hillary Dutton has depicted the inactive lighthouse that sits at the northern tip of the island. Dutton, 26, chose the home at 64 Bay View Drive North because of its historical significance and distinctive red shingling. For eight consecutive years, she has chosen a landmark that is visible to sailors circumnavigating Conanicut Island during the Labor Day tradition.

“I just thought that was a very iconic building and something that can be seen from the water,” said Dutton, a Calvert Place resident.

Eight wonders

The lighthouse at Conanicut Point joins a list of recognizable landmarks that includes the Pell Bridge, Beavertail Lighthouse, Clingstone, Horsehead, the Verrazzano Bridge, Dutch Island Lighthouse and Plum Beach Lighthouse. This year’s poster is the first time Dutton has featured a landmark in the north end.

“Essentially, that was the next part of the island that I was working my way to,” she said.

The freelance graphic designer and photographer said her favorite part of designing the posters is creating the illustrations. She uses photographs of the featured structure as a source, and then does a layering process over the image. The design is created in vector art, which utilizes basic geometric lines and shapes to develop a crisp image. She then goes over the image to create shadowing and gradients that give the buildings a 3-D effect.

“That’s some of the more tedious work, but that’s also what I enjoy doing the most,” she said. “Adding those little extra techniques is really what brings it all together for the final product. Although it does take a bit of time, it’s definitely worth it.”

Each of Dutton’s posters has a unique color scheme for the sky and ocean. Other elements are recurring, such as the minimalist white yacht sails and the arrangement of text.

Originally from Connecticut, Dutton has lived in Jamestown since she was 6. She returned to the Nutmeg State and graduated from Cheshire High School in 2010, where she was layout editor for the yearbook.

“I’ve just been a very artistic child from a very young age,” she said.

Dutton graduated from Roger Williams University with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in 2014. She even designed a poster for her own graduation party. She was hired by Hasbro and designed packaging for Transformers and My Little Pony toys during two stints. Dutton also worked for Feld Entertainment, creating advertisements for Ringling Bros.

All aboard

Aside from design, sailing is another childhood passion of Dutton’s that has continued into adulthood. She has been a member of the Conanicut Yacht Club since she was 7. Her father, Art, an organizer for the club’s annual circumnavigation, first solicited his daughter to create a poster for the 84th edition. That inaugural design featured the iconic Newport Pell Bridge, with its looming 400-foot towers. It took Dutton about three hours to finish the poster, which was released to rave reviews from the club and its sailors. In 2012, Dutton’s father again leaned on his daughter for publicity.

“OK, we need another one this year,” he told her.

For the 85th edition, she experimented with new colors and even considered a similar scene with the Newport span. Ultimately, however, she decided to change the top portion, which features the landmarks, as the element that varies annually. The original poster, which debuted several aesthetic choices, has served as a template.

“I thought it was good structure for the poster,” she said.

The recurring elements also have decreased the amount of time Dutton needs to create the poster, which she also attributes to her increasing familiarity with the Adobe Illustrator program. She also said the poster series documents her growth as a graphic designer.

“As I’ve gotten older, my ability to do those techniques has certainly helped progress the illustrations and what I’m capable of doing,” she said. “The series is a really great representation of how I’ve evolved as a designer.”

Although the posters are intended to promote a sailboat race, Dutton chose a minimalist white design to represent the boats because she wanted the landmarks to be the focus. When she selects the colors for the sky and ocean, she makes sure the hues complement one another. She typically experiments with different combinations before finding the right one.

“Sometimes I’ll take inspiration from a photograph that I find,” she said. “I try to mix it up a little bit just to show how the light would be at different parts of day.”

Dutton, who has been asked to frame her posters by interested buyers, is not sure about next year’s landmark. She is, however, considering the Conanicut Yacht Club itself. While that poster will mark her ninth consecutive edition, it represents just 10 percent of the regatta’s history. Raced annually since 1927, the circumnavigation is the oldest continuing yacht race on Narragansett Bay.

Return to top