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Graphic Design for Filmmaking

By Jacqueline Dieker, Social Media Executive

I believe that graphic design in the film industry is something that everybody sees, but nobody cares about.

I say this not to diminish the value of these pieces, but to promote a progressive perspective. The reality of this profession is that most of the things graphic designers make for cinema are supposed to blend into the background. When a viewer is immersed in a dramatic scene, it is unlikely that they notice the papers sprawled out on the character’s desk or the poster that is hanging on the wall. A graphic designer’s job when working on a film is to create props that never distract from the drama that is unfolding.

Graphic designers worked on the designs shown in the infamous Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film (1971) to aid in the visual appeal of the movie.

What is Graphic Design for Filmmaking?

While you may be an avid movie lover like myself, you may not be aware of exactly what is designed for film. Graphic prop design for film includes anything on the screen that displays patterns, illustrations, and words.

In a way, graphic design for filmmaking is an act of forgery. Unlike any other design style, it is not about being original. Rather, it is about developing a piece to fit a certain period of time selected by the director. Although these pieces are barely seen by viewers, detail is still essential. I find graphic design for film so intriguing because the actors always see the designs. Therefore, the designer has the power to transport the actor or actress into the surreal movie setting. At the end of the day, film sets are full of bright lights, long cables, and dangling microphones. Graphic designers for each film have the opportunity to bring the actor into a different time and place, aiding in the authenticity of the scenes.

Annie Atkins for Bridge of Spies

The Magic of Graphic Design On Screens

Last week, I gained the courage to directly message my design inspiration Annie Atkins on Instagram. Annie is known for her graphic design work for films such as Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs, and Bridge of Spies. In my text based conversation with Annie, she revealed that she studied graphic design for her bachelors degree and went back to college years later to study film production as a postgraduate. It was not until her masters course where she met a visiting lecturer who was the production designer on a television show who gave her her first guest job. You can read more about her first job in the last chapter of her book, Fake Love Letters. Through Annie’s work, I have found the magic of graphic design for filmmaking, propelling me to aspire to the same line of work.

As graphic designers, we tell a story through our medium. It lies in the hands of the designer to create pieces that feel authentic to the viewer, actors and directors. Although these designs are things that everybody sees but nobody cares about, many of our favorite films wouldn’t be our favorites without them.

If you want to learn more about graphic design for filmmaking and see more of Annie’s work, check out her WEDF Talk here.

Before I seek to enter into the filmmaking design industry, I am still fulfilling my degree. Check out my online portfolio to see what I am currently working on.

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