Kaspian Kondrat – Expansion of Films

While the current edition of Stephen J. Eskilson’s Graphic design a New History does touch briefly on graphic design in relation to film, I take issue with the lack of subcategorization when an attempt at subcategorization was made. If you were to look in the index of the textbook under “film” you would find six subcategories:

  1. German Expressionism
  2. Films and Internet Promotion
  3. Films and Photomontage
  4. Posters
  5. Russian
  6. Titles

Film and graphic design are very closely related, of course graphic design is related to many things, so it does make sense that film would not have a very large section in the textbook. However I think if the decision to not only include examples of film posters, but detailed descriptions of some films, stills as well as art made for the film was made, a little more variety would be a good thing.

I personally very much enjoy German Expressionist films, but I do not think the extensive amount of information given about German Expressionism in the textbook is more relevant to graphic design than all other film genres. German Expressionism is without a doubt one of the first genres operating within the vein of “Arthouse Film”, but I do not think that alone deems German Expressionism worthy of being the only film genre with a full two page spread in the textbook.

I believe additional artistic genres of film should be included alongside german expressionism.

Art Director Kuni Fukai 1973
Art Director Kuni Fukai 1973

Transgressive and Avant-Garde cinema in 1960s and 1970s Japan for example, would be an excellent edition to the textbook. Many films created under the umbrella of these genres are closely related to design. Belladonna of Sadness for example makes excellent use of graphic design through the medium of film, while making direct references to expressionist art.

Mid 20th Century art films as a whole I think are notable in terms of graphic design. The choice to include films that fall under this genre would be wise considering the types of framing and other graphic design tools used by many 20th century auteurs such as Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman. The inclusion of films into a graphic design textbook based on how the films are shot makes a lot of sense to me, since both film and graphic design are often argued to be lesser than fine arts, a statement I disagree with.

Ingmar Bergman, Director, 1957
Ingmar Bergman, Director, 1957

Bergman for example followed many principles of design when shooting his films, as many directors do, though Bergman can be considered an auteur making him worthy of a credit in the textbook.

 

WORKS CITED:

Eskilson, Stephen J. Graphic Design a New History. 3rd ed., Yale University Press, 2007.

Bartok, Dennis, Belladonna of Sadness Blu-Ray booklet, 1973.

*All opinions on Bergman, Kurosawa and Auteur theory are my own

Suicide 1977, Kaspian Kondrat

Suicide was a New York-based musical duo, consisting of Martin Rev, and Alan Vega. Suicide were very stylistically influential on many artists and entire music genres that emerged in the early 1980s and in years following. Suicide has a very unique sound. Raw vocals, with intermittent screams, 1950s drum machines and early synthesizers, all combined with a bizarre array of lyrical subjects from comic book characters (Ghost Rider) to claustrophobia and poverty turning a man to murder (Frankie Teardrop).

Suicide, Ebet Roberts, 1980
Suicide, Ebet Roberts, 1980

Suicide’s 1977 self-titled record Has been repressed and reissued numerous times, the cover art stays consistent for each release, with the exception of the cassette recording, which still shows the iconic original design, only slightly altered.

Suicide, "Suicide", Timothy Jackson, 1977
Suicide, “Suicide”, LP Release, Timothy Jackson, 1977
Suicide, "Suicide", Timothy Jackson, 1978
Suicide, “Suicide”, Cassette Release, Timothy Jackson, 1978

Timothy Jackson designed this iconic cover for the band in 1977, very little additional information about him is known. Jackson’s first mockup of the album art was used for publicity in Punk magazine. While the mock-up was in black and white, indications of where colour would be are visible.

Suicide, Album Cover Mock-up / Advertisement, Timothy Jackson, 1977
Suicide, Album Cover Mock-up / Advertisement, Timothy Jackson, 1977

The artwork, in my opinion, fits very well with the way the album sounds and represents the band.  A limited palette with one very sharp colour mirrors the musical style, while the crude yet very beautiful work done below the text too, seems appropriate to represent the subject matter covered in the songs on the album, as well as accurately, but respectfully gives tribute to the band’s name.

The design done for this album has been reproduced many times over the decades, on shirts posters and other merchandise, as well as for rereleases of the album. I myself own two reproductions of the image, in the form of a record sleeve, and an insert that was included with the record.

Works Cited:

“Suicide Master Release.” Discogs, www.discogs.com/Suicide-Suicide/master/22168.

Wray, Daniel Dylan. “’It Was like Going into the Trenches’: How Suicide Rioted against Plastic Punk.” ‘It Was like Going into the Trenches’: How Suicide Rioted against Plastic Punk, The Guardian, 18 July 2017, www.theguardian.com/music/2017/jul/18/suicide-23-minutes-over-brussels-alan-vega-martin-rev-punk-riot-1978.

Walrod, Jim. “Suicide Album Advertisement Mock-Up for Punk Magazine.” Furniture Pimp: The Collection of Jim Walrod , Wright, 3 May 2018, www.wright20.com/auctions/2018/05/furniture-pimp-the-collection-of-jim-walrod/136.

Siegel, Evan. “Punk Legend Alan Vega Was So Much More Than ‘Ghost Rider’ .” Milk XYZ, 1 Aug. 2016, milk.xyz/feature/punk-legend-alan-vega-was-so-much-more-than-ghost-rider/.