We’ve had some great cover shots on our brochures over the years. Previous incumbents include Barack Obama, a Californian woman wearing a full face veil or Niqab, and a North Korean museum guard.

But this year we were struggling slightly. How do you find the image that brings together both the adventure of what we do without it being overly heavy or touristy for that matter.

Then we came across this fantastic photo of a graffiti daubed wall. It features a strong-jawed Afro-Caribbean woman with round earrings looking sideways into the distance. The paint and plaster are flaking off the wall. Gritty it literally is. You won’t be able to guess where it was taken, but with our recent tours to Cuba and Colombia it seemed to be a perfect fit. We’ve met several similarly striking women in Havana and Bogota including former members of the FARC guerilla movement who have given up their arms and are now committed to a more peaceful struggle.

But using this photo was easier said that done. Did you know that you can’t reproduce images of graffiti without getting the artist’s copyright. This was the picture we wanted, but tracking down the artist took some doing.

The only clue we had was a label on the photo read “The Pride Company,” which led us to a photographer in Hanover.. a dead-end unfortunately. After looking at the image we decided it actually read The Dude Company. Eventually after a few phone calls we traced the work to a small shop in Lille, France run by one Etienne Bergot. Under the label, The Dude Company, he produces graffiti stencils (much like Banksy) that have an urban and 1970s feel to them. Strangely enough we had actually walked straight past his shop when we on our French presidential election tour in April, 2017.

Etienne was happy for us to reproduce the image. Since then we’ve used it on the front of our 2018-19 Brochure as well as advertising in The New Statesmen, Standpoint and other magazines along with the strap-line “Dare to take a different look…”

The original graffiti was daubed on a wall on Kampa Island in Prague (better known for it’s images of John Lennon) a long way from South America and the Caribbean. The image has been painted over now and much of the plaster has crumbled away, so I’m glad we got her. She looks strong, independent and as a far from the pre-packaged look of ordinary tourism as you can get.

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