Each year, the BAFTAs recruits a different studio to design invites, passes and programmes for its A-list guests as well as posters promoting coverage of the ceremony. This year’s were created by Human After All and illustrated by La Boca…
Human After All was founded last year by Danny Miller, Rob Longworth, Alexander Capes and Paul Willoughby – former directors of The Church of London and the team that launched cult magazines Huck and Little White Lies (we wrote a feature on HAA back in May).
In 12 months, the studio has designed print and digital communications for Facebook, Google, YouTube, Adidas and the World Economic Forum, but the BAFTAs is perhaps their most high profile project to date.
When pitching for the project, the studio recommended a handful of illustrators to produce programme covers and a lead image for posters. La Boca was chosen based on its previous poster designs for Black Swan and King Kong. “They do such iconic, reduced compositions,” says creative director Paul Willoughby. “I first found out about them when I saw the Black Swan poster in 2010 – it was the kind of design where you look at it and think, ‘I wish I’d done that!”
The poster appeared in Tube stations and on London buses and features a spotlight shining through a BAFTA mask onto a small protagonist standing in front of it. The black and gold design is suitably elegant for one of the UK’s most prestigious awards ceremonies, but offers a playful take on traditional BAFTA imagery.
Early concept images featured rich, deep colours with a vintage, disco feel, in a nod to the golden age of cinema, says Willoughby. This would have required four-colour printing, however, and would not have worked so well on tickets, so Human After All opted for a two-colour design with white text in the BAFTA’s official font, Wilford.
“We were really happy when we saw the font – it’s crisp and stylish, and communicates clearly,” says Willoughby.
The black, white and gold scheme used on posters was also applied to tickets, partly to avoid confusion among staff checking them in dim lighting. Regular guests received a white and gold invitation and VIPs a black and gold foil one, and each contained a breakdown of the evening’s events and party passes printed on red, purple and green paper. Both tickets and passes were printed on GF Smith stock.
“In previous years, it would be difficult to tell the tickets apart, so we needed the biggest contrast possible,” says creative Evan Lelliot. “In terms of the design, we wanted to create a really easy journey – there’s quite a lot of information to pack in and we wanted to streamline that and create the best user experience we could,” he adds.While the focus was on simplicity, there are some charming added touches, such as an image of the small protagonist from the poster in ticket folds.
While BAFTA has its own shade of gold, Human After All opted for a standard shade on tickets and passes to ensure maximum opacity. “The BAFTA gold just didn’t look as we’d intended. It also has the same mid tone as the red party passes, so when we tried printing it out you could barely see it,” says Willoughby. Car passes (above) are equally bright, printed on yellow, teal and purple paper to ensure they are visible from afar.
As well as their ticket to the event, each BAFTA guest receives a printed programme featuring editorial on nominated films and actors, an ‘in memoriam’ section acknowledging those who have passed away since last year’s ceremony and a photo essay, shot this year by Dr Andy Gotts.
Programmes are the same inside but as with previous years, they feature one of five covers, each depitcing a nominated film (see previous year’s cover designs here and here). Films selected for this year’s covers were 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Philomena, Captain Philips and Gravity.
“Each cover had to speak to the film but in a metaphorical way,” says Willoughby. “Evan and I watched trailers for each, made a list of the iconography in them and sent La Boca a list of words. I didn’t want to steer them in any graphic direction, just set them on the right path with ideas,” he adds.
Covers contain several references to key themes in each film and each uses a different key colour. Together, the whole set makes up a full spectrum, says Willoughby.
The cover designs are also used inside programmes to introduce features on each film, where they are accompanied by headlines arranged in playful compositions that reference the imagery. In the headline for a piece on 12 Years a Slave, for example, the 1 and 2 make up a violin. In another feature on Philomena, words are arranged like a cross in a reference to the film’s religious themes.
“When designing [Huck and Little White Lies], we would spend a lot of time getting images and type to talk to each other,” says Willoughby. “We returned to a lot of techniques we’d refined designing magazines over the years for this project,” he says.
“We wanted everything to communicate the ‘cinimersive theme’ we’d been keen to convey from the start – the headlines, imagery and page furniture all had to offer something extra, a little more involving,” adds Lelliot.
When designing the photo essay, Human After All applied the same playful approach, cropping Gott’s head and shoulders portraits of actors to create extreme close-ups, toying with the idea of how much we really need to see of celebrities to know who they are.
Gotts’ portraits are powerful and present an intimate look at some impressive names. “You can tell he has a big rapport with the people he shoots. His images are very evocative and often, he takes shots you that wouldn’t expect from celebrities of such status,” adds Lelliot.
Human After All’s attention to detail throughout is impressive: all images were treated with the same colour code to ensure they appear vibrant on uncoated paper, pages of the photo essay feature a gold trim for an added sense of luxury, and the in memoriam and listings sections feature varied layouts to ensure readers remain engaged throughout.
Human After All and La Boca’s styles work well together, and the studios have produced a scheme that is fun, creative and carefully executed.