Saul Bass - My inspirations

It could be argued that Bass sparked a revolution in Graphic Design, when first entering into the design of title sequences in the 1950’s. Upon writing for Graphis Magazine in 1960, his article "Film Titles – a New Field for the Graphic Designer," highlighted the advantages and possibilities of this new medium.

Bass’ aim was to capture the essence of the motion picture in a compelling way. His titles set up the scene, similar to a Shakespearian prologue, we the audience were offered visual clues, tones and themes. The animation techniques use were groundbreaking, as Bass introduced a new kind of kinetic typography. No longer would the titles appear as static text upon the screen or even the theatres curtain. Type would now move, be alive and become an essential part of setting up the narrative.

 

A Graphic Designer by trade, Bass was born in 1920 in the Bronx, New York to Eastern European Jewish immigrant parents. After studying Art part time in Manhattan and then attending night classes at Brooklyn College, Bass then married Ruth Cooper in 1938 before his Hollywood career kicked off in 1940.

Creating print advertisements and film posters was where Bass began, until when working on the film poster for Otto Preminger’s film Carmen Jones (1954) he made a significant breakthrough. His film poster impressed Preminger so much so, that he also commissioned Bass to produce the title sequence as well. The beginning of the modern film title was soon to be realized for the first time.

 
 

Bass would continue to produce title sequences for many big budget films during an impressive design career spanning five decades, until his final title sequences for Casino (1995) and A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995).

In addition to his contribution to film and title. sequence development, Bass also created many post war logos that became synonymous with American and western capitalist culture as a whole, such as Warner Communications, Kleenex, AT&T, United Airlines, Quaker Oats and Continental Airlines to name but a few.

The impact of Bass’ innovation sent ripple effects through the industries of creative design, film and animation. Technology has brought us new advantages and faster systems to be able to create effects and replicate the techniques that Bass pioneered from the comfort of our homes. When attempting to create our own posters and titles today, we can surely appreciate and admire him even more given the fact that he produced much of his historic body of work with traditional design and film technologies.

Having been a professional designer myself for little over 6 years, I can only be thankful to greats like Saul Bass for altering the landscape and in a way opening up many more opportunities for designers to follow.

Logo Love

I've created many logo's over the years, but it's always good to look back over your previous designs and see what has held up and still works, and also see how far you have come as a designer and how much your work has changed. 

So here is a selection of a few of my favourites. As always, any feedback be it negative or positive is more than welcome.

 
 
 

Kyle Cooper - My Inspirations & Aspirations

Perhaps the strongest influence during my college design development was the work of Kyle Cooper. The first time I sat up and took notice of a title sequence as having a role of its own, was as a 17 year old Multimedia student. Back when we bought 3-5 DVD's and CD's at a time, from the likes of HMV or Music Zone (my favourite) Panic Room (David Fincher, 2002)  had just been reIeased, I had just seen Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999) for the first time and wanted to explore the world of David Fincher a little more.

Thats when the intro to Seven (David Fincher, 1995) changed everything for me. I loved design, I loved film but never until then did I think the two complemented each other in such a way. Gradually, I became more and more interested in the title sequences and trailers for feature films, than the films themselves. 

Sinister sequences

I researched and found that Kyle Cooper had created the title sequence, then, little over a year later at the age of 18, I was blown away by the titles to a remake of one of my favourite classic horrors, Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder, 2004). Again, Kyle Cooper was responsible for this masterpiece. Two further trips to the cinema were needed to quench my thirst for this sequence, the tension, emotion, the timing of the cuts to Jonny Cash, the religious connotations that ran throughout the unknown cause of the virus/outbreak, not to mention setting up the story to follow on perfectly. Coopers titles don't just introduce the title, director etc, he captures the essence of the story and sets the tone for the audience to adequately receive the following two hours in the correct state. 

Are these people Dead or Alive? We don't know

A few years passed and I explored everything from writing my own short and feature length scripts, shooting and editing my own short films and worked in entertainment TV. But nothing would inspire me to the same creative level, I wanted to feel something at the start of a film, I wanted to be seduced and dictated too by the artists. That's when AMC's The Walking Dead (Frank Darabont, 2010) hit our screens. Zombies, carnage families torn apart and a search to find out why and how to reverse the apocalypse. The opening scenes are quiet, slow and have us questioning everything, until Rick has to take the toughest action and shoot a Zombie child. This is when the titles kick in and the chilling music snaps us out of the short daze we have been sharing with Rick. The titles ramp us up to want more, they coax us into believing this world exists. Again, Kyle Cooper with a master class in merging video, graphics and typography. 

The difference this time... I didn't have to pay to see it again or wait for the DVD, this is on nearly every week!

Thank you Kyle Cooper

Don't Stop. Don't Quit

It's hard changing your life, it's even more difficult to maintain once the change has been made.

But it's definitely worth it.


As I approach my fourth year since making the choice to go self employed, I thought that perhaps this is as good a time as any, to recap on my victories that are scattered amongst a host of failures.

Failures are the most important aspect of the journey that I have been on, with out them the victories wouldn't taste as sweet, and the the hunger to feed the growth would not exist.

We all encounter obstacles and challenges in our personal and business lives, but how we deal with them ultimately determines the outcome of our future. Splitting from a business partner, a spouse or losing a client are all difficult to deal with, but dealing with these challenges head on will give you a much stronger opportunity to improve on the future. The primary process I employed when things didn't go to plan, was not to focus on the mistakes, instead, I viewed them as events, events that didn't have the desired outcome. This way I allowed myself to focus on... "What will I do differently next time?" With this approach implemented, I was now focussing on solutions to make things better and not dwelling on the misfortune, not beating myself up.

Likewise, I did't get too excited or exhibit too much pride when things went well, momentum is a cruel mistress and can turn on a six pence. Save your money when times are good, because you'll need it when things dip, and trust me, in the early days they will, so prepare.

Thankfully, I've had more ups than downs and have employed many freelancers along the way. It has always been the aim to grow into a small/medium agency and we have managed to reach that level for months at a time. However, sustaining this momentum isn't easy, but keeping our clients happy is the primary objective, to keeping our clients and continuing to grow. 

The victories have been more frequent as the years have passed, as processes and relationships have improved. The mixture of being both a Creative Director and Freelancer have kept me on my toes and definitely aided me in taking my personal development to a new level. 

At present, I have an organic team of 7 creatives to assist on projects, along with steady clients and a good pipeline of work achieved from word of mouth and digital marketing campaigns. The difference in equipment, cash flow and personal life in comparison to 4 years ago is incredible, and to think it almost fell apart and I almost gave up early on, makes this minor success all the more rewarding. 

When not with my major clients, I spend much of my time helping smaller clients and start ups to get off the ground, something I feel is particularly important in giving something back and strengthening our local community. If you help people get what they want, you can get what you want, without ripping anyone off or playing games you can get ahead.

So, if you're a fellow creative or a young entrepreneur, don't give up when it's tough, because that's usually the point when things are about to turn around. Keep going, keep hustling and keep learning. One day it's going to be your day, if not, at least you did everything in your power.

Stay Classy people!