This year’s design is a continuation of a narrative the artist began in the 2015 exhibition with “Abhaya Brings Teachings of Love.” Abhaya is an otherworldly character full of nature’s power that appears during moments of transition, challenge, and transformation. She comes during these times to encourage and empower us to face whatever we may be experiencing in our individual lives and in society. For example, her first message read, “Let go of your fears, a new season is near. Love is the way.”

Brandon Sadler (b. 1986) aka Rising Red Lotus, a name which also serves as a mantra telling the story of the lotus whose roots were sown deep in the mud of good and evil, who gathered nutrients from both sides, and rose to the surface to become whole. He is a native ATLien, earned a BFA in Painting and Illustration from SCAD Atlanta, and is a multi-disciplinary artist, calligrapher, film director, and writer.

Sadler’s style and art-making philosophy is a collection of influences from his experience in American graffiti and his studies in traditional Korean, Chinese, and Japanese calligraphy and painting, Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, comic books, graphic design, and indigenous symbolism and lore.

One notable characteristic of his work is the text that he incorporates: it is all written using the English alphabet, but designed to emulate the Chinese character system. While living in Seoul, South Korea, Brandon saw a structural connection between English and Hogul through a shared use of vowels and consonants to form words. Merging his awareness of these similarities with his experience as a graffiti writer, Sadler began to develop an intricate writing system that begins in brush calligraphy and can be adapted to typography and design. Cultural connectivity is a huge component in his work, which mirrors the social progression of our contemporary environment. Conceptually, his imagery speaks to a universal human condition within concepts surrounding change, connectivity, perception, and self-actualization.

Sadler is renowned for his public mural works, and his solo and group exhibitions have brought him accolades as one of Atlanta’s most prolific artists, collected by individuals as well as the High Museum of Art. In addition to activating the fine art and public worlds, he has also worked with several major brands to successfully bring his unique vision to the commercial space.