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DELTA Designer Celebrates Midtown Raleigh’s Natural Beauty

Rich Gurnsey's winning submission for the Second Annual Midtown Banner Art Contest.
Rich Gurnsey's winning submission for the Second Annual Midtown Banner Art Contest.

DELTA Lead Multimedia Designer Rich Gurnsey paid homage to Midtown Raleigh for a recent banner art contest –– and he won. 

The Midtown Raleigh area includes North Hills, Crabtree Valley, Cameron Village and the Five Points neighborhood, all home to vibrant communities and scenery. When Gurnsey found out that the Midtown Raleigh Alliance (MRA), a nonprofit working to advance economic development in the community, was holding the Second Annual Midtown Banner Art Contest, he decided to apply. 

The theme for the 2021 contest was “Wish You Were Here”, which focuses on attracting others to the area as part of the recovery effort from the impact of COVID-19. Contestants built on that theme while highlighting a specific “hidden gem” in Midtown. 

June 19, 2011. Raleigh, N.C.. Lassiter Mill Historic Park, site of the Crabtree Creek dam and Lassiter Falls.
Lassiter Mill Historic Park. Photo by Adam David Kissick.

Gurnsey started by brainstorming fun, interesting, and visually appealing locations. Midtown is known for dining, shopping, and entertainment, but he chose to celebrate the area’s green spaces in his design. 

“My banner design was inspired by all of the natural beauty that can be found in Midtown Raleigh, especially the greenways, Crabtree Creek and Lassiter Mill Park –– which is truly a hidden gem. And it’s not just people who flock to these picturesque locations; many wild birds, like great blue herons, can be seen taking a dip in front of the waterfall or flying gracefully overhead. These natural oases definitely help make Midtown special!” Gurnsey says. 

Rich Gurnsey's banner: Bird in a polaroid frame reading wish you were here.
Gurnsey’s banner celebrates Midtown Raleigh’s green spaces and wildlife.

Gurnsey sketched a few different concepts and looked at them side by side to determine his favorite. He says the sketching process was helpful because he was able to develop several ideas, and he ultimately used elements from multiple sketches to complete the final design.

“One of my favorite parts was creating an original color palette for my design. My goal was to pick colors that are harmonious, comforting and a little fantastical. One of the most challenging parts was including the required polaroid-style frame in the design. I didn’t want it to feel tacked on. It was important to me that the frame was fully integrated with the rest of the artwork.”

After being chosen as one of five finalists, Gurnsey was named a winner alongside artist Kelly Schrader. The banners are up now in 26 locations along St. Albans Road, Wake Forest Road and Six Forks Road. Keep an eye out for Gurnsey’s design, which will be on public display for a full year, helping to enhance Midtown’s visual community appeal.

“I hope it brings joy to all who see it!” says Gurnsey. 

Congratulations, Rich!