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Marita Leuver – Creativity Takes you places!

Marita Leuver

Australian designer Marita Leuver is best known for her work promoting festivals and public spaces. Strong forms, bold colour and illustrative typography characterise her design sensibility. GSM takes a look…

The Leuver Family – creativity throughout

Born into a creative family with dad, Peter Leuver, an Art Director, and mum, Joan Leuver, an illustrator, plus four siblings—all of whom are blessed with artistic flair—it is easy to understand why Marita likens her childhood to the American television drama, ‘Mad Men’. Marita studied at Randwick Technical College in Sydney—excelling in the two year graphic design programme. Marita’s sister, and one-time co-designer, Thérèse Leuver remembers, ‘the best students’ projects were showcased in the long hallways on Level 4, and Marita’s work was selected and featured practically every week’. Consequently, student Marita developed a strong rapport with typography teachers Ross Renwick and Ethna Gallacher, ‘Gallacher taught me how to hand draw type. To this day, when kerning, I still hear her Scottish accent; avoid rivers and lakes!’.

Leuver’s Professional Career

In 1982, Marita began her professional career working on Ross Renwick’s ‘Billy Blue’ magazine, followed by a stint at the Davis Farrell studio. But things really took off when, aged 21, Marita established her solo practice working out of a tiny studio in North Sydney. Here, she produced work for movers and influencers in the fashion, entertainment and cultural sectors—including curator Juliana Engberg, artistic
Paul Dyer and Neil Armfield, and festival directors Gayle Lake and Nashen Moodley.

In 1989, Leuver spoke about Australian graphic design at the Art Center College of Design’s European campus in Vevey, Switzerland. A result of which was an offer of a teaching position, which she politely declined. Instead, she teamed up with her three sisters—all graphic designers—to establish Leuver Leuver Leuver & Leuver. Amongst the many projects created by the creative quartet was the overhaul of the Sydney Opera House logo produced in 1995 (see below).

Marita returned to the helm of her own ship, establishing Leuver Design In 1997— where she still works. The team at Leuver Design is, intentionally, a small, tight ship—Marita herself, supported by one or two full-time staff. But as Marita reflects, ‘The mind boggles at the workloads and deadlines we get through’. Among the many works produced by the team are branding campaigns for the Sydney Film Festival, the Biennale of Sydney (see below), and the Brandenburg Orchestra.

In 2020, Marita was inducted into the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) Hall of Fame—a testament to a career using design to bring people and communities together. Best summed up by Marita herself:

‘Creativity takes you places – it can get you through school, break down barriers, speak all languages. Creativity opens doors to places many only dream of. Live it well.’

Projects from Marita Leuver

Sydney Opera House

LeuverIn 1995, Leuver Leuver Leuver & Leuver revisioned the Sydney Opera House logo, the first major overhaul since the original was created in 1983 by Reno Design. Briefed to improve the presence of the logotype, Marita reversed the existing sail silhouette from a black square, removed the reference to water, and modernised the typography from a serif typeface to Helvetica. ‘It’s all about simplicity. When you think not only about graphic design but architecture and furniture design, its generally a simple, classic, beautiful piece of design that lasts the test of time’. The silhouette is still the basis for the brand today. Photo by Hans-George Esch.

leuver> Sydney Opera House Christmas Card, Leuver Design, 1996.

leuver> Sydney Opera House 25th Anniversary fold-out invitation, 1998.

Festival Posters 

Marita has produced iconic festival street posters over the last 30 years:

> Musica Viva Hobart Season, 1990, designed in collaboration with sister Therese Leuver.

> Sydney Film Festival 50th anniversary campaign, 2003. Collaboration with Sylvia Weimer.

> ’2000GETHER’, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, 2000. Campaign concept, design and production by Leuver Design.


> Potts Point High Life Festival, 2000. Celebrating the local architecture

Leuver’s Celebration of Type

Throughout her career, Marita has produced numerous works with a heavy emphasis on lettering design. Some classic examples include:

Sydney Food and Wine Fair logotype in support of AIDS Trust of Australia, 2008—2011. Leuver created this montage by using vintage etchings, hand cut and stuck together with tape.

> 2013: This rebranding project for
Performance Space in Sydney, was a collaboration between Marita and Elliott Bryce Foulkes.

> Marita created the original version of this logo for
Jaeger Fine Papers whilst employed at Billy Blue in Sydney circa 1983/84. The design uses torn paper collage to create the look. Marita later reinterpreted this into a digital format. As a side note; Jaeger Fine Paper were acquired by K.W. Doggett in the early 2000s, and subsequently merged into Ball & Doggett (who produce GSM for our Australian readers) in 2017.

> Marita designed the brand for popular local jewellery and homewares brand,
Dinosaur Designs in 2010. The project included developing a suite of stationery, carry bags and stickers. All of which made maximum use of the strong logotype forms.

Biennale of Sydney (2014)

Originally launched in 1973 to celebrate contemporary art, the Biennale of Sydney 2014 festival exhibited the work of 92 artists from 31 countries. Multiple venues across the city hosted the event with more than 620,000 attending.

Marita created a suite of material promoting the event. This included the exhibition guide plus marketing support material such as these ferry flags, street posters and banners.


Calendar Designs

These calendar designs, from the late eighties/early nineties, show what is possible when the medium, in this case—paper, is used as a core part of the concept.

leuverLeuver created this limited edition calendar from 1989 in collaboration with sister Therese Leuver. It went on to receive two bronze awards from the
Australian Writers & Art Directors Association—plus, became the first piece of Australian Graphic Design to be published in the international section of the British D&AD Awards Annual.

Limited edition calendar, 1990, also picked  up a bronze award from the
Australian Writers & Art Directors Association.



This striking circular calendar design, created in 1991, makes use of layered, printed semi-translucent stock to create reveals as the pages are stripped back.

GSM would like to acknowledge the biography of Marita Leuver written by Dr Jenny Grigg, Lecturer at RMIT University and inductee of the AGDA Hall of Fame (2020)—on which much of this article is based. We
would also like to thank Graham Rendoth and the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) for their assistance in collating this material.

This article was originally published in GSM22. To read this and other great articles purchase this issue here.