How would someone define Manchester through art?

JULIAN BORRERO is a designer in the city. In a project which saw the graphic artist create pieces which both needed to encapsulate and explicate the very soul of Manchester, Julian’s work gained a particular – and very cool – niche of attention. He’s just come fresh from a Noise Lab rapid art exhibition (NOISE is a pop-up high street gallery slap bang in the city centre on Market Street, where beautiful graphics, papercraft, illustration and photography would often adorn the front windows).

Q. Why is Manchester so Good?

A. Because of its rich art, music, political and footballing history.


In his latest project, Why is Manchester so Good, Julian Borerro’s minimal style sees itself transform his observations about the city as a ‘non-Mancunian’ into arresting poster images which all look strikingly iconic.

I asked him what it was about Manchester which  inspired him.

Julian Borrero

MANCHESTER IS a treasure hunt. Every time I take a stroll through a new part of town I find another gem. It could be a new bar, a new gallery or just a new space. Even walking along a single road can provide you with a diverse variety of experiences.

How would someone define Manchester through art?

“Roads like Oxford Road are home to theatres, bars, restaurants, art galleries and more. I don’t always find something amazing when I follow these streets, but even the most mundane things intrigue me. An abandoned bridge perhaps or a particularly quirky housing estate might set my mind racing with ideas. Sometimes the more bare the canvas the more room for your imagination to run wild.”

“Manchester is crawling with creativity in all its forms and even if they aren’t artists or creatives, people here appreciate cool stuff.

“It’s this that means independent hubs like Affleck’s Palace and the Manchester Craft Centre flourish. Places like this inspire me because not only does it give me ideas for my work, but it also gives me, and others who are just starting out something to aspire to.”

With the city reinforcing its image with that heritage of cool, as well as having one of its most famous émigrés, Liam Gallagher, open up shop here with his lifestyle clothing brand Pretty Green, Manchester is effing up the expectations of northerners once again.

“I would love to be able to one day set up a shop and sell things that I’ve designed and I’m sure lots of other people would love to turn their passion into a career.”


The creatives in Manchester are certainly not the rowdy Mancs they might be stereotyped to be: they have flagship stores on King Street, whoop ass at vector drawing, create co-operatives which fly in the face of arts funding cuts; (search: Future Artists Co-op and the Northern Song Collective for starters) and finally, Manchester plays host to some of the most glamourous people in the world.

“There’s always something going on in Manchester,” he says.

“Often you’ll come into town at the weekend and it will look completely different. Sometimes I’ll come into town purely for a wander, and out of curiosity to see what they’ve managed to ‘plonk’ in Piccadilly Gardens this week. In the past there have been music stages, performance art, hot air balloons and a 20ft ski slope.”

Julian here is talking about Christmas. The European Christmas markets are an absolute staple in St. Anne’s Square, New Cathedral Street, Brazenose Street and Albert Square.

“This year, it’s become a traditional fairground. Then other times you’ll be walking to work and you’ll be confronted by what you think is roadwork’s but is actually the set of a Hollywood blockbuster.”

Manchester is now a popular USA film location

Last year, Manchester was home to several scenes in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. This year, Manchester saw the top half of its Northern Quarter streets and walls all converted into a 1940s city neighbourhood, complete with trench coats, pistols and deep green coloured cars.

“It’s always great to when you can walk into work and say, “Sorry, Captain America made me late again.”

Thanks to Julian for images. You can check out his designs here, including work created for the BFI Science Fiction Festival.





Julian Borrero



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