2023 Kentucky Derby Festival poster depicts a community coming together in bold color and texture
Spectators gaze upon the Louisville skyline as colorful hot air balloons and fireworks decorate the evening sky — which is made by a repeating pattern of pegasuses.
The 2023 Kentucky Derby Festival official poster, titled “Spirit of Kentucky,” was designed by Louisville-born artist Liesl Long Chaintreuil.
Long Chaintreuil uses mixed media to create her work, and her design for the Kentucky Derby Festival is no different.
“I love to create lots of layers and colors and vibrancy. And I use a lot of decorative paper in my work to create this depth,” Long Chaintreuil said.
The layering can be clearly seen in the way Long Chaintreuil incorporated pegasuses dotting the sky.
“I layered so many pegasuses to create the background of various colors of blues,” Long Chaintreuil said.
Her use of the mythical winged horse stands out from previous year’s posters.
“Instead of it being the focal point and a literal depiction, it’s part of the texture in the background, while still being a key element of the piece,” Derby Festival merchandising manager Jennifer Morgan said in a news release.
Many of the aspects of the poster were inspired by Long Chaintreuil's childhood memories of the Kentucky Derby Festival events like the Pegasus Parade, the Great Steamboat Race and Thunder Over Louisville.
“To me, for me, it was just so easy to come up with [the poster’s design]; it just flowed,” Long Chaintreuil said.
Each piece of the poster has a different meaning for the artist. The balloons represent celebration. The fireworks add a burst of color. The city’s skyline brings the community together around one focal point. But it’s the people looking out upon the scene that is most important.
“I knew I wanted to incorporate people into the painting,” she said. “People bring life into the event.”
A guiding theme throughout Long Chaintreuil’s work is love for Kentucky.
“Even when I went to school out of state, I always wanted to paint Kentucky, and I knew I wanted to come back just because a lot of my company is based around Kentucky-themed artwork,” Long Chaintreuil said. “I love, love Kentucky. I can’t say it enough.”
Long Chaintreuil said she hopes when people see her poster design a sense of anticipation starts to build.
“I want this piece to feel alive, almost as if it was jumping off the page – for people to get excited,” Long Chaintreuil said.