Craig Ward Poster

In the poster for my class Poster In Motion: The Art of Music Video I created a literal poster in motion by stitching together all of the photographic images created during that posters design process into a series of short animations. For this poster for a lecture by designer Craig Ward, I wanted to try to reverse that process—create a still poster by using frames from a piece of motion work.

I continue to examine and evolve my ideas of working with gesture and improvisation in my design process as well as trying to exploit optical visualization processes. In this case, I worked with iPhone video, my computer and cut pieces of paper. I knew that I did not want to imitate the kind of work Craig does, but I did want to keep the feel of creating something a bit messy and unpredictable. I started by making some unplanned, gestural cutouts in sheets of paper with an X-acto knife. My only intention was to fenestrate the paper so I could use it as a frame to shoot video through.

I then set the key information of the poster in FontExplorer on my computer—the program used to manage and preview fonts. Rather than trying to typeset in InDesign or otherwise control the typography, I allowed FontExplorer to do this for me. I selected some general typeface families I thought would work visually, and I also adjusted the colors to something other than black using a simple RGB color picker built into the program.

I then darkened the room and held the cut paper a few inches away from my computer and shot video with my iPhone. I tried a few things: moving the paper, moving the iPhone, moving both, moving neither. I shot a number of short clips with the words "CRAIG WARD" and "WORDS ARE PICTURES".

I brought the clips into AfterEffects and layered one clip of each set of words on top of each other. Using simple layer blending and color correction I made a series of animations, which I then went through frame-by-frame to "find" the poster inside of the movie. Each 20-second long movie has about 600 frames—or in this case, 600 different posters. This is a process that could be endless since moving one clip elsewhere on the stage, or choosing a different clip of the same words would result in hundreds of new compositions to choose from. Rather than spending an eternity on this part of the process I examined only a few cuts of the animation until I found a frame I liked and chose to use that, rather than to keep looking for a better poster in the animations. I exported the frame at high-resoloution and added supplementary information in InDesign.

And the animation it came from (at about 13 seconds in):

I continue to learn that an important part of my design process is the edit—I have referred to it elsewhere as the "gesture edit" but I think it can be more accurately thought of as the "fast edit," or perhaps more poetically as the "shoot first and ask questions later" edit. I had literally thousands of possible posters to examine from this process, but I only spent an hour getting to the final image from the animations. We are taught to be meticulous and detail-oriented as designers, but this is a place where grabbing what feels right when I feel it serves the process best.

As I move towards my final thesis document I am trying to coagulate how I work into something both I and others can understand. There are a lot of moving parts to how I work but most of what I make has these things in common:

Improvisation (co-creating with the process rather than directing it towards a specific place.)
Optical visualization (camera, video, scanner, etc.)
Gesture (unplanned actions and innate, emotive decisions.)
Fast edit (quickly and decisively choosing the "right" compositions.)