Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pigs, Pimps and Prostitutes

So... Pigs, Pimps and Prostitutes! This is a recent favorite of mine--three great films, and I was very happy with how the design came together. A different animal than my previous Imammura cover, Vengeance is Mine, but both are personal favorites, actually.

Here's the first idea I had, which is pretty close to the final covers:

I immediately liked the idea of this hand-drawnlettering for it's tightly contained energy, very strictly structured but dirty and human at the same time... it just seemed like a good fit for Imammura. There's obviously a Dr. Strangelove influence there, and Stop Making Sense and a dozen other things, (most of which, as an anonymous commenter points out, are designs by the great Pablo Ferro), but to be honest the most immediate influence was this. (That's not a value judgment by any means, it's just what I happened to notice on a bookshelf while working on this project)

That type isn't a font, it's hand-drawn. (Or, well, I did build a font set out of these letterforms for the packaging and menus, but the covers were drawn before that.) I set the titles in various weights of a font called Agenda, then traced over them. Here's what it looked like in font-only form--not very pretty! (For the record, that's a recreation--I don't seem to have saved the original, but it looked pretty much like that.)

The other element worth commenting on in those covers (apart from the film images, which hopefully speak for themselves), is the silhouetted "critters." Each of these films features a prominent insect or animal as a central metaphor, (the pigs in Pigs and Battleships, the bug from the opening credits of Insect Woman, the silkworms and/or that centipede-looking thing that crawls up her thigh in Intentions of Murder), so it seemed like a good way to link them all together.

Anyway, next came a variation on that theme, but replacing the silhouetted "critters" with photos of same, and bringing in some color for variety:

Here instead of the framegrab used for the previous slipcase cover, I found a similar, but graphically stronger, image on Corbis. The idea of mimicking that scene from Pigs & Battleships for the cover was immediately appealing to me--writhing dirty masses of pigflesh just seem like the perfect encapsulation of Imammura's views on humanity in these movies, and I especially love the way the pigs are converging downward in this image, almost like they're being sucked down a drain... I was initially a little concerned that there might be some objection to using an image that isn't really from the film, (which is why I tried the framegrab version above, but it doesn't have the same punch), but luckily everyone was up for it. (I also think it sits nicely next to my cover for the Bergman Film Trilogy slipcase from back in the day, but that's neither here nor there.)

And finally, just in case everyone hated the hand-drawn type, I tried this idea, which I have literally no justification for.. it seemed like a good idea at the time, but thankfully everyone DID like the hand-drawn type.

After a little back and forth, I took the best bits from options 1 and 2, swapped in a new image for Insect Woman and a new and better "critter" for Pigs and Battleships, thickened up the lettering on the slipcase to make sure it was readable, and as a last minute decision (literally I was about to press "print" on the first proof loop), added that hot pink color to the interior of the slipcase, which I think really holds the whole set together, somehow. And that's that! Here's the final covers:


Capree said...

I remember seeing the final cover on Criterion a while ago. It's one of my favorite. I love the font together with the Corbis image - absolutely perfect. Thanks for sharing your creative process! It's so fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a Criterion cover!

Anonymous said...

They look great, but seriously, no mention at all of Pablo Ferro? These look pretty heavily influenced by the Dr. Stranglelove titles, in my humble opinion...

Eric Skillman said...

Thanks, Capree! I aim to please.

Speaking of which, Anonymous, if you'll look again I think you'll notice I DID reference Dr. Strangelove AND Stop Making Sense (another Ferro design), though you're right that I should have called out the great Pablo Ferro by name. Consider it done now.

Anonymous said...

Cheerfully (and embarrassingly) withdrawn. Great work!

Cub Pup said...

You mention that you made a font set of the hand drawn lettering, any chance you could make that available for download? My envy for hand drawn fonts seethes!

Eric Skillman said...

Cub Pup--
Thanks for the kind words. No plans to make those hand-drawn fonts available at the moment, mainly because (a) I consider them a part of that specific design, not something that I'd feel comfortable seeing anywhere else, and (b) the fonts themselves are pretty sloppily built, and require lots of manual kerning, mix-and-match weights, etc, to make them workable. I'd be pretty embarrassed to let anyone try to work with them. Sorry to disappoint!

Cub Pup said...

Completely respectable. Thanks for the response!