Virgin Australia

Flying Lady goes up market

The Virgin Blue Group, a low cost budget airline re-launched as 'Virgin Australia', as part of a strategy to give the brand a more premium feel as well as appealing to both corporate and leisure customers alike. Design agency Hulsbosch engaged the services of brand illustrator Chris Mitchell to create a new illustrative iconic flying lady, to feature as part of the brands new identity and aircraft livery design.

The brief extracts below are from a feature article published in LogoLounge 7; by Bill Gardner and Anne Hellman

‘The Flying Lady icon graces many Virgin travel brands around the world. The general public is familiar with the idea of figureheads ornamenting the bows of historic sailing ships. Traditionally a military custom, figureheads symbolised wealth, power, and good luck, and later appeared on the fuselages of military aircrafts as well as on the hoods of luxury cars’.

‘Chris Mitchell worked closely with the Hulsbosch creative team throughout the design process. During the initial exploration stage, he presented them with sketches to help determine positive routes for further work.

In the early drawings, he provided a range of pose and style options, as well as for the lady's dress detail. So the team could make important decisions from the outset.

The flying lady appears on the aircraft's profile not far from where she would ordinarily adorn the bow of a ship, and thus joins the ranks of the company's illustrative icons, which have always protected a powerful visual statement endorsing the personality of the Virgin brand.

The ultimate solution has a classic look and crafted feel, while the crisp gray-on-white colour scheme elevates the image to the realms of contemporary luxury’.

Exloration Sketches 2400 pix
A few of the early digital pen loose exploration sketches to help explore character and pose.
Virgin Australia Vector options 2400 pix
A few chosen vector developments exploring detail, pose and dress style.

We wanted to find a pose that best illustrates a feeling of flight whilst holding the Australian flag majestically. Being a complex pose, it had to appear simple and elegant.

Chris Mitchell