Vicky patoulioti/ Illustration and Visual Media
However stressful the DPS year has been for me so far, I wouldn’t regret my choice. For a person who’s work is divided between fine art and illustration DPS can be quite confusing. One of the challenges I had to face since the beginning was being able to separate personal from «commercial», fine art from design which is necessary for a focused portfolio. There were a couple of times I caught myself being too focused on creating something aesthetically pleasing instead of listening to what my client wanted. The DPS made me realise the importance of reaching out to a genuine dialogue and healthy communication which comes along with new views and ideas when it comes to design. My year so far provided me with opportunities to try to overcome this problem and get valuable feedback.
One such opportunity is the film poster collaboration with the MA screenwriting I got engaged in earlier this year. This project helped me identify the problem as well as provided me with the potential to respond to it. It took me almost 6 weeks to come up with two outcomes for two screenplays. One horror/ sci-fi and one rom com. On a general note both writers I was collaborating with were helpful and supportive of my ideas and the way I chose to deal with the posters. They enabled me to do research and respond to their concepts quite freely which made it easier for me to get involved and enjoy the process. However, there were some problems occurring along the way. One of them was luck of information. As the screenplays were not complete yet the scenarios would keep changing and fluctuating a lot. As a result I had to constantly adapt the posters to the new changes which took more time than I expected. In a sense I got tangled up in a loop where I would create choices which would seem preferable at specific moments but wouldn’t serve the purposes of the final screenplay. Except that, I realised I was focusing more on the composition and artistic values of the artwork instead of how I can best promote the concept. The crits we had helped me understand that my approach was more personal and fine art led and confused people as to what the poster was about. Details that for me were important and helped with the best execution of the composition seemed unnecessary and puzzled others. This is when I decided to study design values and combine them with what I already knew. After having done that I carefully read the feedback from my previous attempts and created the final posters which were added to the MA grad show. I removed any unnecessary detail that was likely to confuse and kept only the more relevant to the concept information. The fonts became bolder and the colour pallet changed. The outcomes were successful and one of my designs attracted the attention of a producer.
My approach changed a lot along the way, I learned to appreciate design, studied poster layout and successfully collaborated with the writers. However, I noticed something that troubled me and made me reevaluate my thoughts concerning art and design. Both artists and viewers we are afraid of changes, of creating or accepting something that strikes as different but instead we feel more comfortable following trends and rules that already exist, have been approved and used for a quite a while. Example: One of the writers I was collaborating with was very intrigued by traditional Polish posters and in the beginning was more open to unconventional styles of illustration. However, he seemed less and less willing to experiment towards the end of our deadline (which makes sense as it can be quite stressful). In the end we created something completely different from what we were going for in the beginning, a poster that resembles the rest of its genre thinking that this way will be more likely to be liked by a possible producer. We got scared of new changes and followed an acceptable trend. (I need to mention that the one I made not following this approach actually got noticed).
That raised a question: Is a film poster successful when it is fully accepted by a broader audience or when it pushes the boundaries of design? Can it be both? How come Bridget Jones’s poster is more well known than this one of Tootsie’s? In his book «Playing to the Gallery» Grayson Perry notices that we can be taught what to like and how to like it if we come across it enough times. In other words repetition is the key, the more times you see e.g. a specific layout the more likely you are to get used to it, like it and eventually deny anything that’s not quite like it.
In the end it is in our hand as young creatives to change this kind of attitude and keep fuel society with innovative and challenging ideas.