Why I Started A Blog About Graphic Design For Film & Television
'You're doing what exactly? You are going to write a blog to help aspiring graphic designers make ephemeral props for film and television? Is there anyone out there interested in that sort of thing?'
And so ended the last conversation I had with anyone about this blog and so began the writing of it. It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to explain why I am writing this blog and who it might be for so I'll try and do just that.
I've been designing graphic props for a while now and in between the downtime and the jobs for other people, I create props to bring my own stories to life. The stories that have been swimming around in my mind for ages just waiting to be shaped.
I have had many creative jobs over the years and you can see a list of them here, but nothing has been quite as fulfilling to me than making a document that looks like it's been around for decades, even centuries. Or making something that is not necessarily the focus of a story, but underpins and supports it in other ways.
As a child I was obsessed with magic. I saw tricks as stories without an ending and they often left me equally fascinated and frustrated. I used to wonder what it was like for a magician when they presented a great illusion to the world, watching their audience marvel at the very thing that is mystifying them. But then after the applause settles and the crowd disperses, curiosity sets in as to how the illusion was created. And while the magician has long since packed up her case and moved on to her next show, there are still members of her previous audience scratching their heads and searching for answers.
That was me about two and a half years ago when I decided to look at graphic prop design as a creative career, after being inspired by a chance meeting some of my design heroes (Which I'll save for another post). As a lifelong obsessed film fan, I decided it was about time I found some greater alignment between my passions and my skills. I had no idea where to begin, who to talk to or how to create anything that looked authentic and convincing. I scoured the internet for help, for anyone who could get me started. I had so many questions and very few answers:
+ Are there archives I can research in? Where are they?
+ What kind of papers and materials should I be using?
+ Where are all the other graphic prop designers? Are they all hanging out in a secret room somewhere that only appears under the light of a comet's tail?
+ Is there a particular way I should be breaking down a script?
+ Who does a graphic designer for film work with exactly? Director? Production Designer?
And so on and so on. So many questions. Then there were all my concerns about not being able to find work and how will I remain motivated to stay on this path? How do I keep my mindset positive when it's just me cutting bits of paper out by myself on a cold bleak day in December. A million miles away from the cut and thrust of a creative team working to realise a big vision.
And this is the stone cold reality we all face at some point. It can be lonely working for yourself, especially if you are moving in a new direction and you are trying to figure it out as you go along. I really did wonder if there was any work in this field for me at all?
Those that are doing it must surely have all the work? But then I thought; just hang on a second, the film industry in the UK alone is expanding and the UK’s creative industries are now worth approx £84.1 billion per year to the UK economy. There must be a place for me?
And then I figured it out. There was a place for me. It was my place, the place I could make for myself. I realised that I don't need to wait for permission so I became a self taught graphic artist and illustrator and began to create graphic props through a long and sometimes very frustrating process of trial and error. And slowly and surely I secured opportunities here and there to work on independent films, theatrical productions and exhibition designs.
I want to help you find your place. I want to help you learn and be inspired. I want to help you create a greater alignment with your interests and creative passions and I want to help you fall in love with what you do.
Graphic Design For Film
And Create Graphic Props With
Storytelling At Their Heart
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Firstly I have to be honest and say that writing a blog feels stranger than I first thought it might. When you write online (especially with some kind of opinion) you are immediately pushing yourself to the front and centre as an authority and shouting 'Hey look at me, I'm the expert now, listen to me, I have all the answers!'
Well I definitely don't want to be that guy and I really don't have all the answers at all. I just want this blog to share some of my passions and add some value to your creative pursuits. I am also a fierce believer that everyone, regardless of their experience, level and situation has a great story to tell, so I am hoping I might get to hear about your struggles and challenges, hopes and dreams. Here's a few things you can probably expect me to focus on as I create this blog:
How to keep listening to that little voice inside you that wants to do something great and how to cultivate a deep belief and devotion to your creative ideas.
I'll share some of my favourite films and how they use graphic props. I'll discuss their look and function in the overall story.
Looking at what goes in to creating graphic props for film and tv. I am self taught so I will share some of the processes that I have developed in my work and give you tips and insights into the world of graphic design for film.
How storytelling, on many various levels can help you develop a unique voice in your work. One your audience can really identify with.
When I switched direction in my work to pursue designing graphic movie props, I would have given anything for some kind of website or online resource that set out what it was like and the best ways to go about it. Somewhere I could go that would help me push on. There was nothing. I would have loved to have had the confidence to talk to somebody that was doing what I wanted to do. Instead I didn't contact anyone for fear of sounding unprofessional.
Stories with good endings
So here's my little pledge to you; I'm not really interested in being that magician who performs their show and just walks away. I'm going to stick around and breakdown all the elements that I think makes the trick work, so you can go and put on your best show.
Good luck with your creative passions!!