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Which is your favourite Christmas number one?
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Twitter will now allow family members or authorized individuals to request that certain pictures and videos of deceased individuals are removed from the social networking service. As clarified in a policy update, Twitter says it will consider media removal requests sent to email@example.com in order to respect the wishes of loved ones of the deceased, “from when critical injury occurs to the moments before or after death.”
The move comes a week after Robin Williams’ daughter, Zelda Williams, was driven from Twitter by a barrage of abuse, including pictures depicting her father after his death. Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety, Del Harvey, said the company would evaluate how it could further improve its policies after…
Microsoft is launching a dedicated Reddit app on Xbox One. ReddX, which allows Xbox One owners to browse the hyper-popular social network, submit their own links, and up and downvote content from the console, will be available on the system in North America from the 19th of August. Other apps, such as Reeddit, exist to make browsing Reddit easier with a controller, but Xbox’s Larry Hyrb says ReddX is the first app ever built exclusively for a console.
Topics on the site’s front page appear on the left hand side of the ReddX app, while images, YouTube videos, and GIFs will automatically load on the right. Users can zoom in on pictures, skip through videos, and — apparently using some kind of witchcraft — fast-forward, rewind, or pause…
One day, perhaps, we’ll have holograms that appear when we go to the pay our respects at the graves of departed loved ones. They’ll show up like a message from Princess Leia, say hello, and disappear after comforting the visitors. Until then, we have a stopgap technology: QR codes.
Easily one of the most maligned inventions in recent years, you can still find the humble black-and-white squares everywhere. That includes cemeteries, as the Anchorage city council has voted to let families place the codes on the local columbarium wall.
For $ 150, families can see off their loved ones with an interactive obituary hosted online by Quiring Monuments, which explains the process in a promotional video called “Living Headstones® – QR Codes Turn…
With all the excitement surrounding yet another great TYPO Berlin conference, I almost forgot to post this month’s ScreenFonts. Kick back, relax, let’s watch some film (posters), quick! By the way, prepare yourself for a quadruple dose of ITC Avant Garde Gothic.
We kick off this episode with a richly textured alternate design for The Unknown Known (don’t bother looking up the main theatrical poster). In this documentary former United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, discusses his career in Washington D.C. from his days as a congressman in the early 1960s to planning the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The interplay between the portrait of Rumsfeld and several (censored) texts overlaid on each other nicely visualises the film title. It suggests a life at the center of delicate government operations, where information is gathered, hidden, manipulated and steered. The combination of typewritten text, Times, Helvetica, black bars and the fragmented high-contrast portrait somewhat reminds me of Tomato’s astonishing artwork for Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Underworld’s debut album. Which turns twenty this year, imagine that!
Kajsa Björs and Dylan Marchetti’s poster for The Retrieval is deceptively quiet, yet when you examine the scene the desperation and angst become almost palpable. By having the trees and water almost monochrome blueish grey and enhancing the golden brown tones, the two figures making their getaway pop out of the image. The distressed text serif face enhances the period feel, hinting at worn metal type.
Whereas the “regular” posters for Captain America: The Winter Soldier are the usual action movie fare, this Imax poster yanks the design back into comic book territory. The stylised painted artwork looks like a classy cover for a trade paperback collection of Captain America comics. By toning down the reds and blues the mood (quite literally) gets darker, hinting at the 70s espionage thriller atmosphere of the storyline. The typography interacts nicely with the iconic star-in-a-circle motif by way of white and red diagonal stripes, which also provide structure for the image elements. I did not recognise the square sans; the stencil typeface underneath the movie title is Eurostile. This great, dynamic design stands out against the rest of the film’s campaign.
It’s always a joy to write an episode of ScreenFonts that includes work by Neil Kellerhouse. Neil not only is one of the most inventive and consistently brilliant film poster designers in the industry. He also manages to surprise me time and again because he does not really have a recognisable “signature style”. This means you never know what to expect (except that it almost invariably is an excellent design).
Despite Neil Kellerhouse telling me he never once thought of the eighties when working on the moody artwork for Under the Skin, I originally interpreted it as a contemporary interpretation of classic eighties science fiction posters. Neil makes only minimal use of Scarlett Johansson’s star power (pardon the pun) by making her face barely recognisable as it dissolves in the starry sky. According to Corey Holms all those stars were hand-painted; the fact that it was a rush job makes this design all the more impressive. Neil confirmed he ‘drew’ the planet/orb/stars and cleaned a lot of the smaller ones too, clarifying it was kind of a last minute surprise solution. The typography is almost bookish – Univers with generously spaced Sabon as a supporting typeface – which enhances the classic vibe of the superb poster. Having the movie title emerge from the bottom frame is an ever so subtle typographic play on the title.
Neil Kellerhouse also sent me the pieces above which were used as Flysheets in the UK and for a digital campaign in the US.
Searching for alternate posters for Under The Skin, I stumbled upon something interesting. For the Frames series on The Dissolve, graphic designer Sam Smith created a custom poster and wrote about the film and his inspiration for the design. Even though both posters are entirely unrelated, I seem to also detect an eighties vibe that is typographically suggested by the true and tested ITC Avant Garde Gothic.
Sam Smith sure seems to like the elementary shapes of ITC Avant Garde Gothic. They also feature on his beautiful retro poster for Proxy. Part of the impact of these posters is the strong contrast and the monochrome palette (blue and red, respectively) which both simplifies and unifies the design.
After having been subjected to too many brightly coloured designs with airbrushed, gorgeous youngsters frozen mid-dance, it is refreshing to find a poster for a dance movie that does not resort to the usual cliches. The artwork for Flex Is Kings draws from the roots of the urban dance style flexing, “forged in far east Brooklyn, at the dead-end of a handful of subway lines. Flex dancers channel the grittiness and crime of East New York into choreographed violence with gun movements, simulated bone-breaking, and the mimicked ripping of hearts from opponent’s chests.”
The poster visually translates this tense style by splitting up the dancer’s image into the three different “press runs” – cyan, magenta and yellow – as if his body fragmented, metaphysically ripped apart by separating the dance movement into its components. Instead of opting for an all-too-obvious distressed typeface, the designer created a great contrast between the grimy image and the sleek, seventies-style Grumpy Black 99. Finnish type designer Tomi Haaparanta loosely based the design of his fat face on the classic display type ITC Grouch.
There’s another dance movie in this episode, yet this one takes itself slightly less seriously. I almost glossed over the main theatrical poster for Cuban Fury until I noticed the stiletto-ed foot kicking that Gotham ‘E’ out of its spot. Cute.
I don’t know how much sense this alternate poster makes to anyone under 40, still the nod to Flashdance is actually quite funny. To mimic the hand lettering on the eighties poster, the designer of the Cuban Fury artwork has Mistral follow the curve of the cyan brush stroke underneath. Because of its magenta colour the movie logo bears a surprising and frankly bizarre resemblance to the poster for Drive.
Another, maybe not so subtle typographic pun can be found on the poster for The Final Member. The ‘l’ in the movie title is perfectly positioned – and printed solid in both inks – in this lovely two-colour design. To come back to the Flex Is Kings poster, I wish the designer had used actual ITC Avant Garde Gothic instead of having a distressed version. The perfectly smooth, almost perfectly geometric letter forms would have contrasted beautifully with the vintage anatomical engraving. Because the engraving and the letters display a similar wobbliness the design lacks tension.
Agreed, it is not Trajan nor Gotham, but it’s just as obvious to use Edward Johnston’s P22 Underground on the movie poster for The Railway Man. The unsightly gap between the ‘R’ and the ‘A’ makes me wish the designer had paid a little more attention to the kerning. Those neighbouring letters are allowed to touch or even slightly overlap if the bowl of the ‘R’ is relatively small and its leg extends that far.
Continuing with the railroad theme, the movie poster for Last Passenger does something clever with Gill Sans Bold and one-point perspective. A stylised railtrack substitutes for the ‘A’ in both words of the film title. Simple and smart.
Some people think I hate Helvetica. I don’t. I just think you better have a very good reason to use it. Hateship Loveship for example is a perfect case. Just like Kristen Wiig (according to The Hollywood Reporter) Helvetica turns in a “beautifully restrained performance” on its movie poster. The lock-up of the two words in the film title is so perfect it almost hurts. See how the capitals ‘H’ and ‘L’ and the extenders in the ‘hip’ at the end reach towards each other, almost touching. This solid composition is ideally suited for the weight of the letters and the figure-to-ground ratio of the compact character shapes. In true Modernist fashion all the type is set uncentred and in one single weight of Helvetica in different sizes, in just two colours sampled from the wallpaper background. Add to this the perfect placement of Kristen Wiig, looking at the film title, and the colour scheme that seems to extend into her dress, hair and skin tones, and you end up with a truly gorgeous poster.
For all you Helvetica fetishists out there, currently the best digitisation bar none of Helvetica can be found under another name. Neue Haas Grotesk restores the quintessential Swiss Modernist typeface (if you disregard Univers of course) to its original glory, and is available in Text and Display versions.
Contrary to Helvetica, ITC Avant Garde Gothic, Trajan, Gotham et al FF Brokenscript is a typeface you don’t see on a film poster every day. This modern interpretation of the blackletter injects just enough gothic atmosphere into the artwork for Jim Jarmusch’s vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive while keeping the overall feel contemporary.
These strictly square, minimal letters on the other hand make the movie poster for Short Peace look decidedly futuristic. They remind me of Pierre di Sciullo’s FF Minimum. The restricted colour scheme and the minimalist geometric design (mirroring the Japanese flag) are quite unusual for an animated feature. An uncharacteristic and striking poster.
Another uncharacteristic and striking design is Ignition’s main theatrical poster for horror movie The Quiet Ones. Again the monochrome approach guarantees the artwork stands out against collaterals for other movies in the same genre. The very nice painterly elements around the girl’s face look like something between funeral flowers and petrified flames. I am not so sure about the use of Georgia because it looks a little butch. I think one of the more delicate styles of Miller – Miller Display or even Miller Banner – would have looked more in tune with this refined design.
Ignition did a great job, but their artwork cannot compete with the astonishing alternate posters by Bond. Radically steering away from horror poster conventions, the actor’s portraits seem to be burning/melting, with the film title knocked out in bold, rough brush letters (the aptly named Face Your Fears). They are a breath of fresh air compared to all those same textured photos with distressed Trajan which are currently popular for horror movies. I talked to Peter Stark from Bond.
Peter Stark | “Tim and Doug at Lionsgate are two of the most creative and fearless marketing execs in the business, and the unconventional approach is something they really encourage with all of their projects. They really liked the posters from the start and were the inspiration for the making of the motion posters.”
“The whole film is done in 70s documentary style, when everything was obviously still done on film. The molten effect was used to illustrate the recurring fire/destruction theme seen throughout the movie, as well as simply to bump up the horror aesthetic. Much of the imagery was taken directly from the movie – a sort of twisted menagerie of evilness! The film is full of scary moments… we just cherry-picked a few of our favorites that related to the specific characters.”
This intriguing poster for Who is Dayani Cristal? is the official artwork for the film’s word premiere at Sundance 2013. It was created by Daniel Grieshofer, head designer at Pulse Films. The film revolves around the discovery of the body of an unidentified immigrant in the Arizona Desert. In an attempt to retrace his path and discover his story, director Marc Silver and Gael Garcia Bernal embed themselves among migrant travelers on their own mission to cross the border, providing rare insight into the human stories which are so often ignored in the immigration debate.
Daniel Grieshofer | “When I was working on the poster I was fascinated by the wall and what it represents. Throughout the film it struck me as its own character. It generates a lot of emotions and debate among people. I wanted to keep the layout simple and let the wall take up most of the space. My design was the first poster for the film before it premiered at Sundance and I enjoyed the freedom of creating something simple while dealing with a very complex issue affecting thousands of people each year.”
The poster for The Machine proves that branding with type is such a powerful means of expression that it can turn itself against the designer. Because it has been used on the posters for all six theatrical releases of the original Star Trek movies – from 1979’s original motion picture to 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – the typical lettering has become intimately associated with the cult science fiction franchise. Since it was eventually turned into the typeface Galaxy the signature typographic style can also be used for other projects, like this movie poster. Yet the close connection of the typography with Star Trek makes the design almost look like a knock-off, an unauthorised copy, and I have trouble believing it.
Although I am a fan of Jay Shaw’s work, I am a little dissatisfied with his very literal approach for the movie poster for Marvin Seth and Stanley. When we read the synopsis of the movie, suddenly every single element in the poster makes sense. Too much sense. The movie centers around two quarreling brothers and their father, hence the three profiles nested into one another to accentuate the family ties. The three estranged men join on a weekend trip in rural Minnesota, symbolised by the profiles forming some sort of trajectory with the car at the end. Finally the ITC Avant Garde Gothic letters tumbling down visualise the weekend comically devolving into a series of daytime drinking episodes and botched outdoor pursuits. Honestly, this is all too obvious for my taste.
The movie poster for Blue Ruin by Palaceworks’ Erik Buckham does a great job by having the compact sans serif typography immense and serve as a framing device for the image in gorgeous sunset hues. The broken glass effect on the movie title echoes the gut-wrenching violence in the backlit scene at the bottom.
Funny story – studio mates Akiko Stehrenberger and Erik Buckham were both working on their own posters for Blue Ruin in their own offices and didn’t realise they were on the same job until everything was almost finished. The Weinstein Company even made Akiko use Erik’s logo on her poster without her knowing it was his design. Akiko’s original idea was to have the blood splattering from the exploding head blood be blue. She thought blue would be more metaphoric and artsy fartsy while red would never pass MPAA, yet unexpectedly the client encouraged the red. This makes the poster appropriately unsettling.
Akiko Stehrenberger | “The concept behind his head exploding was definitely more metaphoric than literal. The film follows a man seeking revenge and watching his world shatter as his actions set off unexpected chain reactions. Originally Radius-TWC wanted to see a flying bullet. Luckily, I was able to talk them out of it. I think it’s more powerful when an image lets the viewer draw their own conclusions without spelling everything out for them.”
When I receive a message, asking for help with a dilemma, I try to research the person’s background first. If they have an online portfolio, I check their work samples. If they have a LinkedIn profile, I look at their experience. It’s the best way to offer advice that’s not below their experience level, and avoid coming across as insulting.
Unfortunately, sometimes what I find is disappointing and shocking. It’s the same feeling one gets when you find a 1960s Playboy magazine at a flea market and you realize the centerfold is your grandmother.
Aside from being surprised that grandma was quite the “hottie” in her younger days, sometimes surprises reveal something even more shocking. So, join us as we delve into another shocking surprise Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design.
Serita G. responded to my posting a Design Dilemma article link on an AIGA chapter group on Facebook and asked a popular question that graduates often ask; “how do I find clients?”
I answered with a long post on the thread about self promotion and marketing, only to be met with a nasty response, arguing all of the points I had made. I listed some of my experience as a studio owner in NYC and hoped she might stop her rants and listen to my advice. She didn’t.
I knew many people in that chapter as I had spoken there recently and received a private message from a friend, telling me not to get involved in a war of words with this woman as she had graduated six years ago and always showed up on design groups or at design events, arguing with people about the industry and business practices.
Not one to back away from a young designer, looking for help (even with a bad attitude), I asked her why she was being so argumentative with professional advice when she had no experience. She broke down and admitted she was scared to try. I’ve seen this before and tried to give her a pep talk, but she just got angrier and more abusive.
Why would someone go through four years of art school (and pay $ 40,000+ for it) but not want to actually enter the field? Perhaps the horror stories we tell for fun and sites like Clients From Hell frighten more easily frightened?
Unfortunately, many art schools have become diploma factories, rather than schools of study and dedication to creativity. Online courses and for-profit “institutes” teach software but not actual design skills. Even established art schools shy away from teaching professional practices, turning out the type of freelancers despised by professional designers for lowering rates and soiling respect for other designers (ever meet with a prospective client who complains about how the last designer screwed up a project?).
While Serita’s question was legitimate, her fear made her attack sensible solutions as she was afraid of implementing. If she, as well as other students were trained as to how to survive as a designer, it would build confidence in them, hopefully diminishing their fear of what is a very difficult business.
We are in an unregulated, unprotected and misunderstood profession. Art schools often don’t teach professional practices because most creatives couldn’t tell students how to bumble through as the teachers did. I’ve spoken with some people hired to teach professional practices courses and they are usually not qualified to do so, but school administrators don’t know what requirements one would need to teach such things and most of all, the harder you make the industry sound to students, the more who will drop out and find new careers and ways to spend tuition money.
Even after decades of experience, there’s always a new client who will throw us for a loop when it comes to running a professional business. It will never change. Clients come up with new demands, new reasons for not paying and new excuses for immense scope creep. These are the horror stories creatives like to share on the web and at gatherings. Is it any wonder young designers just starting out are terrified? Just reading a few passages on Clients From Hell will wither the life force of the most experienced professional.
When I lived in New York, I would give a two-hour lecture to seniors at art schools in the various schools in the city on entering the profession. Inevitably, three or four students would run in tears to the dean of students, complaining that no teacher had ever told them how hard it would be to work in the field. My talks included not only freelance, but the situations that arise in office power plays. Most students think they will sit like honored guests, undisturbed at their computers, designing, “vaping” and listening to music. I still laugh when a student tells me that’s how it really is at design jobs.
I’ve heard way too many incorrect ideas from students and recent graduates about how easy it will be for them to enter the field and the following three weeks it will take for them to become creative directors.
“Oh, I’ll just get an agent to bring me work,” said one student.
“People will find me through my website,” said another.
“My school has a placement center/job bulletin board,” reply too many students.
Why do young creatives feel that entering the industry is a skip through a field of flowers and free vials of “dub” or become terrified at the prospect of leaving the “easy-to-get-laid,” safe, warm art school rooms for the horror world that lay beyond the doorstep? Because of what we, the seasoned professionals tell them. You want to be encouraging but at the same time, you want them to succeed and not drag down the industry with “pie-in-the-sky-thinking.”
The sad truth is, graduating from any school, in any field is no guarantee of an easy life or even getting a job. If Serita is too afraid to take the first step into her chosen field of study, she will need to find something else or, as my friend told me when he warned me about getting involved in any discussion with her, be happy with her waitressing job… like customer service there is any easier or more pleasant!
Do you have a design dilemma? Speider Schneider will personally answer your questions — just send your dilemma to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Image © GL Stock Images
There’s something about lighting a candle—an effortless way to instantly transform the ambience of a room, with the strike of a match, making everything look a little more beautiful. We learned that in Scandinavian tradition, the heat and light provided by this simple…
You want good clients and not bad clients, but how can you tell the difference?
If you’ve been a freelance web designer for a while (and especially if you have a strong online presence), this has probably happened to you. Out of the blue, you get an email asking about your web design services from someone you have never heard of working for a company you have never heard of.
Yay! You might think it’s time for a celebration. But as an experienced freelancer, you know to be careful. You know that it’s important to evaluate prospective clients. You shouldn’t agree to work for every single prospect who contacts you.
First of all, you want to make sure that their inquiry is legitimate. And you should also consider whether they are the right client for you.
In this post, I’ll list five steps to help you evaluate a prospective client. At the end of the post, share your tips about how you evaluate clients.
It may surprise you to learn that the first step to evaluating a client is to know your own business goals better.
If you haven’t already done so, you should build a profile of the type of clients you prefer to work with. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Once you understand what type of client you prefer to work with, you can take steps to target that type of client in your marketing. Most importantly, you can use your ideal client profile to evaluate potential clients.
One of the first steps I always take when someone contacts my about my freelancing services is to look at their social media profiles. While it’s true that once in a while you’ll encounter someone who has no social media presence at all, most people do have some sort of profile on one or more of the social media platforms.
Here are the social sites I look at and what I look for:
If the person’s social media profiles or shares are unprofessional, that can be a red flag about doing business with them.
If the prospect passes the social media hurdle, it’s time for me to look at their website. Since you’re a web designer and presumably the client is interested in hiring you to change their web design, you don’t necessarily want to be too critical of their current design. In fact, they may not have a website yet.
If the client has a website, here’s what I look for:
As you can see, a client’s website can tell you a lot.
Another step you can take to check out a prospective client is to find out what others are saying about their company. Your first line of defense is the search engine. I typically type in a phrase like:
“Complaints about [company name]“
“Review of [product name]“
Even though the results will indicate what clients think of your prospect’s company, they may indirectly indicate how the company will treat a freelancer. After all, if they don’t treat their own clients well, how likely is it that they will treat a freelancer well?
Here are some other places to check:
The final step in evaluating a potential client is to ask questions about the project. You may even wish to schedule a phone call or (if you live nearby) a face-to-face meeting. An advantage to doing all the homework in Steps 1 to 4 is that by now you already know a great deal about the prospective client.
If you still have questions about the client, it’s important to ask them before you start to work with them. Naturally, you want to get all of the specifics about the project you will be working on.
To get an idea of how the client works, you can also ask the following questions:
A final filter to help you determine whether a client is a good fit is prepayment. I always recommend that freelancers require a new client to pay some or all of the project fee upfront. Most good clients will have no problem doing so.
How do you evaluate prospective clients?