30 October 2018

Once upon a time, one designer asked —or it was asked of them— "What's the typeface used for The Princess Bride?" The designer invariaby replies, "I don't know offhand but I recognize it. I know that I've seen it before. I'll look into it and get back to you."

Hours of careful research —or is it days?— yields the same answer every time: there is no such typeface. What you believed to be a commonplace, off the shelf solution (or perhaps a sligthly modified one) wasn't that at all. How does something which presents itself as wholly familiar prove to be utterly non-existent? Beats me. Some questions in life are like that.

So what does a designer do then? Be a designer of course and make one. Which is what I did when Mr. Eric Skillman asked the age-old question of me in regard to the Criterion Collection edition of The Princes Bride. The delightful, storybook edition is available now.

16 September 2014

Time Bandits

After a long spell of being listed as "out of print" The Criterion Collection has reissued Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits in swell new Blue Ray and DVD editions. Art Director Eric Skillman asked me to come up with a new title treatment for the occasion. One of my initial ideas, the title descending through one of the black hole / time portals, was embraced by all. So it became a matter of execution -- --something that would go well with the vibe of the original theatrical poster artwork. (you can click on the detail art for an even closer view) The disc will be out in December. It stuffs a good stocking.

08 July 2014

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

On June 24th The Criterion Collection released A Hard Day's Night in a most spectacular and comprehensive edition. There were many hands on deck for this one and I was one of the designers asked to contribute some cover concepts. Ultimately Criterion went with a solution by the estimable Rodrigo Corral but for a while these were a contender. At the time we hadn't settled on a color solution. There were dozens. Here's four. One for each Beatle. There were other designs as well. I'll see about posting those at a later date.

17 December 2013

The Freshman

Shopping for a last-minute holiday gift idea for the film lover in your life? Might I reccomend this swell print for the Janus Films re-release of The Freshman? It's designed by yours truly and is available through the Criterion Collection gift shop!

• The Criterion Collection Online Gift Store

23 September 2013

3 Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman

What happens when Hollywood glamour and post war neo-realist Italy meet? That was the question which directed the design decisions on this one. The Hollywood aesthetic of the late 1940s and early 50s is well known and easily recognized --and for anyone who appreciates Italian film publicity of that era, it's understood how much of that aesthetic was borrowed, filtered and repurposed for their domestic market. The Italians typically illustrated, painted and hand-lettered the film posters of that era. Check out David Kehr's Italian Film Posters (The Museum of Modern Art) for some stellar examples. Criterion wasn't going that route for this one. The imagery for 3 Films By Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman would all be photographic.

Booklet Cover, back (left) and front (right).
Even though there are fewer examples of photographic Italian film publicity from that era, if you look hard enough you can find them. They're typically black and white, two-color affairs. The effect is often raw and immediate. Pretty much what one might expect to see from a war ravaged society with limited technology at it's disposal.

For this set I tried to evoke as much of that feeling as possible. Most all of the headers used throughout the packaging are hand-drawn --Journey to Italy being the exception.

Critertion was looking to see Bergman exclusively as the face of this package. Three portraits representing the three movies. This was an approach that we'd used to great effect on 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg. Yet for that set the portraits were all different and the typographic treatment was the same. This time around the formula flipped. It was also important too to stress the three locations in which these stories took place. There are certainly worse ways to spend weeks on end than staring at Ingrid Bergman's face but a designer's gotta do what a designer's gotta do!

Establishing the look of the slipcase cover would likely dictate the look of the individual film covers. Or so I first thought. The lettering on the cover is my adaption of a typeface I spotted on an Italian poster --advertising a rice product of all things!-- it was era appropriate and had the kind of idiosyncrasies I was looking for. The trouble was there were only about 6 letters. So I needed to extrapolate an entire alphabet and also cook up a lighter weight too. It felt like applying this style to all three covers was going to get repetitive so I set out to come up with letterforms that would make each title distinct.

More sample spreads from the booklet.

I'll be updating this post over the next several days, adding more imagery and writing more about the process behind the piece. So I hope you'll come back!

12 September 2013

The Last Time I Saw Macao

My poster design for The Last Time I Saw Macao, directed by João Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata. Released by Cinema Guild. Opens today in Manhattan. Cinema Guild was great to work with, special thanks to Peter Kelly.

26 July 2013

The Wolverine

The best superhero movie of the summer opened today. I'm proud to have collaborated again with my great friend and filmmaker, James Mangold. The Wolverine is a fantastic Eastern-Western and delivers some hair-raising action along with the rich character study you'd expect from the guy who made 3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line and the rest. Check it out. The title sequence comes at the end of this film after a mighty intense climax. The goal here was to go bold yet at the same time lay back a bit and give the audience a moment of rest (before the X-Men easter egg kicks in!). Pictured here is the main card from the sequence. Special thanks, too, to Bill Lebeda and David Midgen at Picture Mill!