Arts and Culture

Posters for the 2021 Kentucky Derby Festival rolled off the presses Friday morning.

The work features a vibrant pegasus flying through the air. The tips of its wings stretch to the poster’s edges. 

Louisville collage artist and painter Andy Perez designed it.

“I wanted to sort of embody the excitement and fun with the colorful feathers and Pegasus,” Perez said of the work he titled “Going Up.” 

“Then we were also repurposing past posters throughout the design as sort of an homage to the tradition of the poster and the festival.” 

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Louisville artist Andy Perez (foreground) looks at printed posters of his design at Derby City Litho on Feb. 5, 2021.

For the poster, the artist drew on his process of working with painted paper, which he then cuts up and puts “together to make something new.”

Being the Kentucky Derby Festival artist is something Perez has thought about for a while. Originally from Kentucky, he grew up seeing the artwork.

“I can remember seeing it in stores and seeing the poster,” he said. “And ever since I became an artist, I wanted to be a part of that tradition.”

Festival organizers canceled events like Thunder Over Louisville and this Pegasus Parade last year due to the pandemic, which is, in part, what made them want to work with Perez this year.  

“His collage style really lends itself to kind of putting pieces back together for 2021,” Kentucky Derby festival merchandising manager Jennifer Morgan said. 

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Perez signs posters, which he designed, at Derby City Litho Feb. 5, 2021.

Perez’s ability to take literal pieces of the festival’s history and “make something new and bright, kind of like what we’re all doing right now, [which] is looking at the future,” Morgan added.

The tradition of the festival poster, and selecting an artist to design it, dates back to 1981

Morgan said they have selected artists in different ways over the years, sometimes doing a call for submissions. But this year, they declined an open call and reached out to Perez directly. 

She’s looking forward to revealing the limited edition of the poster, which Perez also designed and highlights a “different variety of his work.”

The Pegasus Parade, and other major festival events like Thunder Over Louisville, will be without in-person spectators this year.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Printing press at Derby City Litho as it prints the 2021 Kentucky Derby Festival poster.

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts Reporter.