Saturday, November 13, 2010

Irrelevant Ramblings Part 2: Help me Bees! and Collaboration

My second collaboration with the grand proprietors of Relevance productions, Trevor and Tom, has proved to be one of the more frustrating and satisfying events of my year. Over the summer I had been developing a large series of images/posters to promote a college theatre run of Dog Sees God; Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead. The show is an unauthorized dramedy of a Teenage Charlie Brown. It's a very honest, funny and intense play, and I was almost 85% finalized with my designs when the dream project was cancelled over creative differences with the administrative faculty. The feeling of devastation was equally shared with the other collaborators and designers; but life goes on, and so it was fortunate that Trevor contacted me again with a new project.

Thom Pain: Based on Nothing by is the antithesis of the one man show. Instead of having a linear storyline with the singular character narrating his life in a series of stories that all tie into a neat theme or life lesson, Thom Pain goes from nonsense to little moments to fragmentary ramblings that truly pull into to the random depth of your own mind and how you perceive what is normal in your life compared to his experiences. Performed by renown actor Scott Cox it proved to be an astounding experience for those able to come to that small MET theatre in Kansas City just off the plaza.

For imagery, Trevor had mentioned that several designs had included mainly two things: a pair of glasses and a bee. The glasses were the only object that framed anything in the play (the actors face) and the other represented both a story in the show itself and the eclectics of the play itself. Deciding to go with a more metaphorical route as I did with the design for Dark Play, I decided to literally combine the idea that Thom Pain's mind was alive with sporadic ideas buzzing about like a bee hive. So I combined several composits of a bald man with a beehive shaved to the back of his head. Then I proceeded to find several bee images to swarm the bald dome to give a full realization to the concept. A large golden hexagon framed the head and unified the theme of bees to the imagery. It was on of my favorite designs.

However, this design did not meat the approval of my client and friend Trevor B. Including it's similarity in visual symbolism to Dark Play, he also believed the audience would be confused with Scott Cox's luscious curly hair as opposed to my bald bee enthusiast image. So back to the drawing board; or at least Photoshop. Thankfully I didn't have to look far.

For some of my designs with Dog Sees God, I had implemented the idea of using strong silhouettes with bold colored backgrounds (yellow for the charlie brown character, red for Lucy, etc.) similar to the old iPod adds, but slightly more tasteful. Still in that mood while working on Thom Pain. I created a image of a singular figure in a suit and glasses (another strong image from the play) standing on a series of hexagons arranged in a honeycomb formation, creating a platform like a stage for the lone figure, with a row of other honey combs to add depth.

The inclusions of swarms of bees the removed normalcy of the figure, but the cartoonish look and the dotted lines of the bees themselves made the eminence less disturbing and more of a odd/curious entity. The dotted lines helped to fill in the space at the edges and make Thom's silhouette seem less isolated. Trevor liked the simplicity of the image; it fit with the minimalist style (read- budget) of the play. With a little tweaking the final poster came as this:

I don't wish to currently speculate on it now, but why some people seem to prefer Trajan Font is beyond me. Despite its very comforting square like design, being a comic fan myself, I was very tired of this font after Civil War. But when you are at the whims of a client, some things don't quite go as planned. The white background made the figure crisper, but the yellow of the bees helped the eye run up and down the piece. It was a beautiful thing to see it around KC in 2 x 3 ft. proportions.

The pamphlet was very similar but once again I made an emphasis on hexagons/honeycombs to create a stronger bee theme. Trevor was very pleased with the work. For the show, I even got to be a plant in the audience every night. Thom Pain was picked as the Best Play in Kansas City by the Pitch a few months later. Needless to say I was overjoyed, as was everybody else. More to come soon.

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