Behind the scenes with…Amanda Meares, graphic artist

Amanda Meares is one part of the talented in-house graphic designer team at the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that creates all of the Fair’s design material. The State Fair Web site, Premium Book, bumper stickers, notepads, Twitter background, promotional posters, signage, daily programs and much, much more all pass through the hands of our graphic artists. We spoke with Amanda on the inspiration behind this year’s creative treatment, as well as her own personal Fair favorites. Check out her answers (and posters**) below.

How would you describe the feel of the ’09 Fair Web site and design materials?

This year’s N.C. State Fair theme is “A Whole Lotta Happy.” We wanted to get back to our roots by bringing agriculture back to the forefront. This year’s design highlights the tradition and history of the Fair with a vintage letterpress style poster. We looked at some of the Fair artwork done in decades past and this style seemed to resonate with people.

What was your inspiration?

Our inspirations for the 2009 Fair are tradition and value. The N.C. State Fair has long been our yearly gathering place; it’s a chance for us to communicate, share and take pride in our community. The Fair has been a constant in our changing world, and it’s a way to enjoy quality time with family, friends and connect with the community. With the economic challenges we’re all facing, good value is more important than ever. People are seeking ways to do more with less, and we want people to know the N.C. State Fair offers “a whole lotta” fun at a great value.

Tell us about the process you and the design team go through to create the design materials.

Design is all about function and form. The function is a combination of the concept, message and goals. The concept is the most important part of the design process; everything that follows is directed by it. Our design team starts with the theme or concept chosen for the year and then we move on to the form. This is the fun part – we start sketching! This is where we make decisions about imagery, font choices and colors that will be used. Then we communicate back and forth with the State Fair staff, getting feedback along the way. Each step in the process goes back to the concept. The end result is a design form that jives with these guiding principles. We hope this year’s theme and design will encourage people to take advantage of a great value and join us for the 2009 N.C. State Fair.

What makes you “A Whole Lotta Happy” about the State Fair?

As a native born and raised in Raleigh, I have probably gone to the State Fair at least once every year (if not more!) since birth. When I was young, I loved the animals and playing the games. As I got into middle school, I started submitting paintings to the art competitions and began enjoying the exhibits. And in high school my friends and I came for the thrill rides and the concerts. That being said, I would have to say my favorite thing about the Fair has always been and always will be the food. Where else can you have a dinner that consists of roasted corn, fried pickles and an elephant ear? I’ll take one of those deep fried candy bars too, please.

If you could deep fry one food, what would it be?

Guacamole. Yum.


**Many people have asked if we’ll be printing these posters for people to own. We’re excited to announce that we have printed a run of the poster on the far left (as well as a smaller run of concert posters we’ll receive once the lineup is finalized) that we’ll be using for giveaways on our Facebook and Twitter sites, as well as here on the blog. Closer to the Fair, we’ll also have them available for you to pick up at the fairgrounds and possibly at area businesses.

To start off the poster giveaway, read Amanda’s Q&A and leave us a comment here on the blog with what Amanda identifies as the most important part of her design process. We’ll randomly pick two commenters on Monday, July 20, and send them their very own posters! Be sure to check back then to see if you’ve won.

About Cotton Candy

Karlie Justus - blogged for the 2008 / 2009 N.C. State Fairs. This is her bio from 2009: When I'm not blogging for the N.C. State Fair, I go by Karlie Justus--but Cotton Candy suits me just fine. My earliest memories of the Fair are of the times my parents would bring my brother and I up from Asheville, N.C. for a double dose of the Fair and a N.C. State football game. Fast-forward two decades later, and I'm a public information officer for the deep fried celebration whose must-see Fair attractions include the giant pumpkins, decorated cakes and deep fried Oreos.


  1. Amanda identifies the concept as the most important part of the design process… and she nailed this concept! My homesick-for-NC kitchen would love a framed Whole Lotta Happy poster!

  2. Laurie Koster

    The concept is the most important part of the design process. And she captured it SO well. Gorgeous art & posters!

  3. The concept is Amanda’s most important part of her design process.

  4. Kimberly Drayton

    Amanda says that the design process is the most important concept. I would love to have a framed “Whole Lotta Happy” poster. Pick me, Pick me!!

  5. Jason Barbour

    As a graphic designer I understand how hard it can be to design posters, business cards, and magazine layouts. I believe when one finishes with their project it becomes a part of you. Her poster design is amazing. It reminds me of when I would go to the fair with my parents as a child. It brings back great memories. It’s a great poster design as well. Good Job Amanda

  6. Amanda thinks that narrowing it down from all of the ideas to the couple concepts that are feasible is the hardest and most important part of the design process

  7. She identifies the design concept as the most important part of the process. It gives me a whole lotta happy!

  8. The concept is the most important part of the design process. Love the “Jam Pack With Fun” poster — have always enjoyed competitions & awards sections. That “Jam” poster would look great in hanging in Cary. 🙂

  9. Would love to have one of those posters!

  10. Love the old-style look. It gives it a flavor that’s nice in comparison to so much of the flashy, photography-oriented posters you see more often today. I also love getting the pointer to the artwork through Twitter.

  11. We randomly chose our winner, and…congrats Will Powers! Send us your address to and we’ll get a poster out to you.

    Thanks to everyone who commented. Stay tuned for many more contests like this as we lead up to the Fair.

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