Financial services company Robinhood hired Collins to design its new brand identity. The illustrations Collins commissioned as part of its world-building exercises are beautiful and obviously heavily inspired by the late cartoonist Mœbius.
[From] a visual design perspective, the illustration system really takes center stage. We settled on a vision of the future very quickly, motivated by the notion that investing is really about hoping for a better future. We wanted to show what a world might look like if we all had access to systems of wealth creation.
The challenge with any vision of the future is you need to essentially reimagine everything; clothes, architecture, technology, even culture, and economics. The details are important, even if they're not the focus of the scene, or explained at all. This practice is called world-building, and it's common in all storytelling-based mediums — from comics, to books, TV and film — using backstory, value systems, character dossiers, histories, and so on, to enrich the images on a page. Lord of the Rings is a classic example — and the Marvel Universe a more recent success story.
We began last year by hosting workshops in our San Francisco office with Robinhood's leaders to imagine the world fifty years into the future — one built around Robinhood's values and belief that collective participation is a source of power.
We then sought inspiration by visiting a variety of future-facing leaders — from self-driving car makers, to animation studios like Pixar that build story-worlds, to urban planners responsible for defining the future of our cities. In concert, the teams looked to classic futurists like Pierre Christin, Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler, and Larry Niven — as well as pop culture classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Star Trek, Jodorowsky's Dune, 5th Element, and even Dragon Ball Z. This ultimately fueled much of the content you see in the new Robinhood illustrative world.
Aesthetically, both the COLLINS and Robinhood teams shared a passion for illustration and sci-fi pop culture, and reveled in the chance to work at that intersection. We looked to classic masters of the genera; Jean-Claude Mézières, Robert McCall, Vincent Di Fate, John Berkey, Chris Foss, Sid Mead and of course the iconic Jean Giraud (Mœbius) for whom a few of the launch illustrations are a little bit of an homage. The style itself is called ligné claire, popularised by graphic novels of the 50's. Ultimately, as we plan for many thousands of illustrations in this style over the lifetime of this work, we sought to build a unique brand world that is deep, historically informed and would last across time.