Art & Copy is a film about advertising currently making its way around the country. The film is an in-depth look at some of the best and most creative minds in the business. As director Doug Pray states, “I felt it could be a more powerful statement to focus the film only on those rare few who actually moved and inspired our culture with their work. And that higher standard made me want to make a film that reflected the same kind of disciplined artistic approach that my subjects used.” It looks really interesting and I’m really excited to see it.
The frightening and most difficult thing about being what somebody calls a creative person is that you have absolutely no idea where any of your thoughts come from really — and especially you don’t have any idea where they are going to come from tomorrow. — Art & Copy
We’ve been watchingThe Persuaders in class over the last few weeks and, while it’s not specifically about graphic design per se, it’s easy to draw useful parallels between the two disciplines of advertising and design (as they are often one and the same anyway, whether you like it or not). If you are interested, you can watch all of The Persuaders on the website.
This winter is shaping up to be a pretty excellent time for designers as far as film is concerned. Art & Copy will be in San Francisco in early November, Objectified comes out on DVD on October 13th (so sad they had to push it two weeks due to a “manufacturing snafu”…how ironic), and Visual Acousticswill be here November 6th.
I think I am most excited for Visual Acoustics — I remember writing about it a while ago and have been surviving off of Shulman’s wonderful photography in the meantime. Also worth mentioning is The September Issue, the film chronicling the development and process behind the largest issue of Vogue Magazine. I saw this one recently and would recommend it, but it wasn’t quite as good as I was hoping. It’s exciting to see design related films making their way into the (almost) mainstream!
Side note: Art & Copy employs a beautiful ampersand in the logo for the film. Not sure what it is, but it’s very excellent looking.
I had the chance to go to the San Francisco premier of Objectifed last night. It was the first of four screenings here in the city, and part of the film’s journey as it makes its way around the world, showing in over 100 cities. After the screening, there was also a short Q&A with the filmmaker Gary Hustwit and a few designers from the film. It was sold out, as it is for the two showings tonight, but if you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth going to check out anyway. There were more than a few open seats and I think they release a few tickets at the door. If not, Gary mentioned it would return in June to the Yerba Buena Center, and possibly release on DVD later in the year (though this seems really soon).
I feel like it takes two viewings for me to really formulate my opinion on a film, but my initial reaction to Objectified is very positive. I really enjoyed it and came out a lot more inspired than I was going in. Hustwit has a very accessible style; he is able to quickly engage the viewer regardless of prior knowledge or experience. His subject choice is fantastic as well, and he captures some poignant and salient remarks from incredible minds working in the field. My favorite segment was probably the one on Marc Newsom (or maybe Rob Walker) but it’s hard for me to remember. I wish I could have taken more notes!
When I posted on the film a while back I didn’t really have any idea what the film was actually going to be about. I had heard it was about industrial design but that was about it. After the screening tonight, I’d say it’s really about everything; design in a general sense. (Interestingly, the term “industrial design” only occurs once or twice.) As with Helvetica, what is said about the chosen arena of (industrial) design can really apply to all design fields. Discussions of utility, objectivity, and efficiency come up regardless of whether or not you work on paper or in steel. The film is really about design thinking and the creativity designers bring to whatever problem they are solving. There was a mention, and I forget by whom, that designers are the philosophers and intellectuals of the future. For me, this sums up the film. Sure it focuses on industrial design, but the real takeaway is that designers are becoming increasingly valuable to society for their way of thinking and problem solving, not just for making pretty objects.
Comparisons with Helvetica are inevitable, and the one thing that Objectified was missing was an opposing perspective. Erik Spiekermann had an unforgettable segment in Helvetica that pretty much made the movie for me. His passionate hatred of the typeface was not only hilarious and entertaining, but also extremely valuable in that it provided a counter-argument to make the film more well rounded. Objectified is very optimistic and hopeful, and it stays this way throughout the entire film. As one of my classmates pointed out, there is no downer interview that provides an alternative perspective. Everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid so to speak. Regardless, it was fun to discuss this issue with my classmates after the film, and I would really recommend seeing it with fellow designers.
Seeing it in San Francisco was definitely a treat. The design community here feels very small, and I love it when there is an event which brings a lot of us together. After the film, everyone emptied out onto the street and hung around discussing the film and design in general. You could really feel the energy of so many people being creatively inspired all at once. I felt really excited and proud to call myself a Designer.
Objectified, the upcoming documentary on industrial design by Gary Hustwit, will be premiering soon at the South by Southwest Festival in March. It will take an in-depth look at the designers and creative processes behind some of today’s most popular objects, and should provide a great introduction into the field of industrial design.
I enjoyed Hustwit’s last film, Helvetica, and I thought it was a great way to give the general public some perspective on the world of graphic design. I am constantly asked what graphic design “is” by friends and family, and it was nice to have a film I could show them that pretty much summed it up. It was also interesting to see how the film’s release affected the use of Helvetica at school. Despite the fact that it was ubiquitous already, students suddenly became afraid of using it at all, for fear of further saturating the design community with more Helvetica, or doing something predictable.
I’m sure a lot of you will have heard of the release by now, but be sure to keep an eye out for a screening in your area. The fantastic Sundance Kabuki Theater, here in San Francisco, will be showing it on April 21st, with a Q&A with Hustwit to follow. More dates and screening information can be found on the Objectified site.