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Inspiration is critical to graphic design – and you really don’t know for certain where it can come from.
It can be found in the obvious: books, magazines, galleries, movies, music and oftentimes the unexpected: a dream, overheard conversation, or whilst sitting on the toilet.
But if you’re working on a project and need some mental stimulation, try one of the movies below to get the creative juices flowing. In no particular order, here are my top 10 movies graphic designers should watch.
1 – A Scanner Darkly (2006)
A Scanner Darkly is an American animated film released in 2006. It’s a science fiction thriller directed by Richard Linklater and based on the novel of the same name, written by Philip K. Dick.
The reason why graphic designers would love this film is that it makes use of the Rotoscoping technique, which some of you may be familiar of. The film has in fact taken Rotoscoping to the next level in the visual style. This technique makes use of Rotoshop, a graphics-editing program developed by Bob Sabiston.
2 – Why Man Creates (1968)
Have you ever wondered why human beings are naturally creative? If so, then you better watch a short documentary, entitled “Why Man Creates”. This is a 1968 animated documentary film, which focuses on the nature of creativity amongst humans. Written by Saul Bass and Mayo Simon, the film will certainly inspire any aspiring graphic artists out there.
3 – Helvetica (2007)
Helvetica is an independent film that is all about typography and graphic design, thus, it is a must watch film for any graphic designer out there. As a matter of fact, if you ask any designer which film they believe is the best typeface film of all time, they will most likely say Helvetica.
In this film, you will be taken on a journey that explores the history of the Helvetica typeface and how it has changed the world ever since its conception. Aside from that, it features interviews with famous graphic designers, including David Carson and Massimo Vignelli.
4 – Design and Thinking (2012)
Design and Thinking is a film documentary directed by Mu-Ming Tsai. It examines how design can greatly influence the world of business as well as the social change. It calls on creative minds, including young and aspiring graphic designers, to work hand in hand in making a change in the world. It also features interviews with Bill Moggridge, Tim Brown, and David Kelley, who have put forward the idea that asking the right question is actually more important than giving firm answers.
5 – Objectified (2009)
Objectified is part of the trilogy created by Gary Hustwit, which includes Urbanized and Helvetica. Urbanized is actually more architecture oriented, unlike Helvetica and Objectified, which are more applicable to graphic design.
Objectified is a film about the day-to-day objects that the graphic designers behind them will have to deal with. It also includes interviews of Karim Rashid, Naoto Fukawasa, and other famous personalities in the design industry.
6 – The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Nightmare before Christmas is one of Tim Burton’s most famous films, a musical fantasy thriller that was released in 1993. The movie makes use of a stop motion technique and any graphic designers who want to learn more about stop motion should watch it.
Aside from the use of the stop motion, another reason why graphic designer should not miss this Tim Burton film is because the original production has made use of sculpted models and sets and was the first ever film to have been converted entirely to 3D.
7 – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a 2009 film directed by Terry Gilliam and it talks of a travelling theatre company where the leader has made a bet with the devil. The film was actually very popular during its release since it happens to be Heath Ledger’s last performance. Other famous actors, such as Johnny Depp and Jude Law, also starred in the film, portraying the transformations of Heath’s character. The movie will inspire graphic designers in the sense that it has some of the most beautiful scenarios with a compelling story that should motivate any designer out there.
8 – The Science of Sleep (2006)
The Science of Sleep is another must see film for designers who want to get inspired. The movie, which was released in 2006, is a surrealistic science fantasy comedy film that was written and directed by Michel Gondry. The film is a great example of Gondry’s excellent ability to use techniques and imaginations to be translated to a great narrative. It tells of a story of Stéphane Miroux, a man who cannot separate reality from his own dreams. It also combines the stop motion animation and traditional filming techniques which led to extraordinary results.
9 – Art & Copy (2009)
Art & Copy is a 2009 documentary film directed by Doug Pray, which deals with the industry of advertising in the United States, also discussing some of the most popular ad campaigns of all time. It includes the infamous “Just Do It”, “I Love NY” and several other world renowned campaigns. Thus, this film is certainly a must see if you want to further enhance your graphic design career and pursue a job in the field of advertising.
It’s also a great film to watch if you are just curious as to how these famous campaigns started and who the great minds are behind them.
10 – Waltz with Bashir (2008)
Waltz with Bashir is perhaps one of the best animation films of all time. This is an Israeli animated documentary directed by Ari Folman. The film depicts Folman in a search to recover his lost memories when he was a soldier during the Lebanon War in 1982. It is a truly great film, making use of some special techniques that are often confused with Rotoscoping. Unlike Rotoscoping, the Waltz with Bashir was created by means of a combination of the classic animation technique and Adobe Flash cut-outs.
What have I missed from the list? Is there a particular movie that you would recommend other graphic designers should watch? Leave a comment below.