Intrigued by how branding and graphics are portrayed in on-screen fiction, whether it be TV or film, johnson banks' Thought for the Week blog talked to Anastasya Martynova, in-house art director of the BBC's recent 'mockumentary', Twenty Twelve...
From a new poster for the E20 club in East Enders to the wood-blocked look of the Daily Prophet newspaper in the Harry Potter films, branding and graphics are becoming increasingly prominent in on-screen fiction, writes the studio's Michael Johnson.
Type designer Mark Simonson even dedicated serious time to the validity of the ‘found type' in Mad Men once.
However, the programme that has been the talk of the johnson banks studio this summer was the BBC's recent 'mockumentary' Twenty Twelve, which, in case you didn't know, followed the organising of the London Olympics.
The programme's ODC (Olympic Deliverance Committee) mirrored our real LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games).
It was full of sharp writing, and witty catch-phrases, but we enjoyed it on a whole other level – for its amusing fictional branding and graphics.
From the phrases and imagery that adorned the ODC and imaginary PR company Perfect Curve's offices, to the marketing campaigns that they ran ('Jubilympics' was our favourite, see below) there was one person in charge of producing it all: the programme's in-house art director, Anastasya Martynova. So johnson banks' Julia Woollams talked to her to find out more about the process.
Thought for the Week: How did you come up with the designs for the show's graphics and branding?
Anastasya Martynova: The graphics were inspired by Olympic Games graphics from past years, as well as the 2012 Olympics graphics. Perfect Curve was inspired by trendy 'Nathan Barley-esque' East End design agencies.
TFTW: Obviously the graphics are all quite tongue-in-cheek – did you need to get approval for any of them from LOCOG?
AM: At first it was difficult to get much out of LOCOG. For example, coming up with the Olympic logo was tricky – I couldn't use the Olympic rings, or the words 'London Twenty Twelve' (that's why the final one only says 'London ‘12').
As the series gathered momentum, LOCOG were a lot more welcoming and let me use some official images in the ODC office, plus we were allowed to film on site. I was also pleasantly surprised that Lord Coe even made an appearance. It was wonderful to find out that we had quite a following from some of the actual Olympic staff!
TFTW: Were any of the branding and graphics stipulated in the programme's script, or did you have free reign on that?
AM: I worked very closely with John Morton [the programme's writer and director], who had a very clear vision of how he wanted the characters to come across. He helped me come up with slogans and give life to the little personalised details for each character. I'd come up with draft ideas from his script, then show John and take it from there. Actually though, the crazy sentences in Perfect Curve's offices and the ODC wall words were dreamed up by the production designer, Les Stephenson.
TFTW: Where did you take your inspiration from in terms of the various Perfect Curve campaigns in the series?
AM: The campaigns were scripted by John, but I was given free reign in coming up with the way things looked. The thing that I found really inspiring (and amusing) was that there were a lot of parallels to actual campaigns, which of course I researched and took some inspiration from. 'Jubilympics' was my favourite campaign – I couldn't stop coming up with different posters (and unsurprisingly, not all were seen)!
TFTW: How would you sum up your experience on the show?
AM: It was a lovely show to work on, a team effort and a labour of love. I'm so pleased that it was so well received, and very honoured to have been part of something so special with such a talented cast and crew. I'd love it if the show carried on to Sochi 2014 next but I don't think the BBC's budget will stretch to that!
We'd like to thank Anastasya Martynova for talking to us. Reporting by Julia Woollams. In case you're reading from afar and don't know what the heck we're on about, here's a clip featuring the creative briefing for the 'Jubilympics' concept at Perfect Curve.
Why didn’t you ask why ‘12 (sic) uses an opening single quotation mark and not an apostrophe?
You didn’t notice it either? What a surprise.
What an ingenious decision to use an opening quotation mark instead of an apostrophe to abbreviate 2012 in the 'Olympic' logotype. It's a popular error that gives an extra ring of authenticity to the incompetence, both typographic and administrative, of monolithic organising committees such as the ODC that is so brilliantly and cuttingly portrayed in 'Twenty Twelve'. Such attention to detail!
Harry is right. Some people cannot pay enough attention to details. However, the general look of the designs is great anyway.
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