Accio Photoshoppus!

16Jul09

So, let’s talk some graphic design here, folks. And in honor of Harry Potter week here at tea@elevensies…let’s chat about the promotional work for it.


Accio Photoshoppus! Filtero Maximo!

If you’re counting, there are quite a few posters there. (And we haven’t even broken out of the English barrier.) A whole lot of monochromatic blue, dramatically photoshopped, large images of the main characters posters. Per usual Harry Potter fare, there are the stand-alones of each main character, the good-pairing posters and evil-paring posters, and the nemesis juxtaposition posters. There are close-ups and full body shots, perfectly posed action and romance and angst angst angst (if you’re familiar with the stories).

All in all…with the exception of Luna Lovegood (who is awesome in almost every incarnation, even in blahhh blue), these ads are quite deserving of one big, fat yaaawwwn. I mean, they look nice, but if you’ve paid attention to any of the advertising on the last three films, you’ve been there seen that, yeah?

Here’s the deal though: you just can’t fly off the bat and judge the design studio that produced these. Working for a firm that has movie/tv/other entertainment media clients has taught me this: movie folks always ask their designers for something conceptual and interesting, and then they always choose the exact opposite of that – boring and contrived. This ever-a-staple design has a large movie title, and large images of the recognizable actors. The old days of interesting and conceptual movie posters are long gone.

I imagine the studio that produced these advertisements getting the brief from their WB client, and scratching their heads and saying, “They want HOW many of these?” And, if this poor firm is anything like mine, they came up with a wide variety of options with many interesting takes that still fit within the line of Harry Potter ads…and these designs actually SAID something about the movie they were representing. And, probably, through many rounds of client choices and revisions, eventually all the interesting and deviant ideas were whittled down to what we’re seeing today.

Welcome to the wonderful world of designing for entertainment.

But this whole post isn’t meant to be a downer. Because these right here are the posters I really want to talk about.

These are the ones currently splashed all over the billboards and buildings of downtown LA and Hollywood. And you know what I love about them? The designers behind this realized that, with the lack of interesting development since the Prisoner of Azkaban three movies ago, AT LEAST the Harry Potter brand is instantly recognizable. And so somehow they got away with one of the biggest no-nos in graphic design: the title is skewed and placed behind the actors so that only 2 to 4 letters of the entire brand franchise can be seen! And yet the consumers still knows what is being advertised…in fact, how many of you even gave it a second thought? None, I’ll bet. Even the individual movie title “and the half blood prince” is partially obscured by the edge of the poster and the characters themselves.

And so, I’ve got to congratulate the firm who designed these (whoever you may be). So much of our job as designers requires us to work inside very cramped, boring, in-the-box spaces that a client’s ideas provide. It’s just the way things are. These posters, in my opinion, represent a small victory for the designer, whose job it is to put all effort into battling that box and, even while working from within it, to refuse to let his creativity be silenced.

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2 Responses to “Accio Photoshoppus!”

  1. 1 Jordan Cathey

    Sorry to say Ash but i was very in tuned to the fact that the Title Treatment is covered beyond the norm in most all of their advertising….i guess that is the designer in us (especially working in hollywood)

    • Haha, very much the designers in us, methinks. I was sort of referring to more of the general consumer reaction…people who aren’t taught to “think” as much about what they’re seeing, and simply react. Thanks for the call-out though. đŸ™‚


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