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Kentucky Derby Festival unveils 2024 official poster

Group of three men displaying a poster featuring a drawing of a flying horse
Giselle Rhoden
/
LPM
Louisville artist Richard Sullivan designed the 44th poster in the Kentucky Derby Festival's poster series.

The Kentucky Derby Festival has unveiled the official poster for the 150th “Run for the Roses."

To kick off the upcoming season, the Kentucky Derby Festival rolled hundreds of this year’s bright-colored posters off the printing presses at Welch Printing in Louisville on Friday.

This is the company’s third year printing the Festival’s official poster image, which spotlight local artists. The image gets printed on everything from t-shirts to mugs and magnets. This year’s artwork, entitled “Liberated” depicts a watercolor painting of a pegasus, a symbol of the Derby Festival since the 1950s.

Richard Sullivan, a former Atlanta Braves pitcher turned Louisville artist, created the whimsical design inspired by his memories of the derby.

“I'm so excited for the springtime every year just because of the derby festival and especially this year being the 150th anniversary of Churchill Downs and the racetrack,” he said.

The vibrant pinks, yellows and blues are meant to reflect the coming of spring, Sullivan said at the announcement Friday.

“I just wanted it to feel hopeful, in flight and kind of this magical moment in our springtime where we can get out of our shells,” he said Friday.

The official poster and other merchandise are available for purchase online. The 150th Kentucky Derby is set for May 4.

Aside from his 6-year baseball career, Sullivan is most known for his watercolor paintings. In 2020 and 2021, he designed the Woodford Reserve’s commemorative Kentucky Derby bottles.

Sullivan's two passions — horse racing and baseball — are often the subjects of his watercolor paintings over the last four years, he said.

“Baseball was like my first love. When you're a pitcher, when you're on the mound….those kinds of feelings you can't get anywhere else,” Sullivan said. “When I first started painting again, after playing baseball, some of those feelings came back…So I continued to follow that feeling.”

Sullivan’s design is the 44th piece of artwork selected for the Derby Festival poster series since it was launched in 1981.

Giselle is LPM's breaking news reporter. Email Giselle at grhoden@lpm.org.