Inspiration: Title Sequences

With the recent  Golden Globes and the rush of Oscar season upon us, I am feverishly attempting to catch up on my films.  And this led me to think more about the art and design of title sequences – and the high level of conceptual work seen there in order to establish a film’s mood, such as the dizzying feel of Vertigo’s Opening Credits.

A few years ago, I attended an incredible lecture on movie titles at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute and since then, I’ve definitely paid close attention.

In recent years, some American films have practically done away with opening credits, with films such as Van Helsing and Batman Begins not even displaying the film title until the closing credits begin.  Yet other films, and some TV shows too, have embraced opening (and closing) credits as an opportunity to further reach and engage the audience.

Here are a few links to inspire your video work and to simply enjoy – with some incredible examples of strong design in both classic films and recent releases:

Graphic designer Kyle Cooper is the person behind the innovative and arresting images that opened films such as Se7en which helped to rejuvenate title design in mainstream cinema.   Check out the montage of title work completed by Kyle and his associates at Prologue Design (a collective of designers, filmmakers and artists).

Legendary designer Saul Bass is the man responsible for the credits of some of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers, including most notably Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese.   Check out one example of his work for the film  The Man with the Golden Arm.

Poster by Saul Bass for Anatomy of a Murder

Saul wrote that, “Design is thinking made visual.”

Here are some impressive animated sequences, with a nod to the past:  Ratatouille Closing Credits, Monsters Inc Opening Credits and Catch Me If You Can Opening.

Check out the title sequences in To Kill a Mockingbird and compare those to Cameron Crowe’s obvious homage in Almost Famous.

And peruse these links to learn even more – there are so many that are truly amazing:

15 amazing opening title sequences

The Art of the Title Sequence

Unforgettable Titles

Movie Credits 101

And yes, perhaps one of the greatest films of all time, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, begins with just a title credit.  It is all about knowing the right visual approach for each story… and the will of the Director.

Stay tuned for further inspiration from movie poster designs too!

CE Instructor, Ellie Brown, Selected to Participate in United States Artists Project

Keila, "18-80", Choreographer 20x30" digital c-print

As a follow-up to an earlier posting, Come Explore a New Online Community of America’s Finest Artists!, CE instructor and Philly based artist and photographer, Ellie Brown has been accepted as a USA Projects artist. Ellie’s profile and a showcase of her work is up, and she has just launched a new project called BAG.

Ellie wants to let us know that, “I have some great BAG related perks available, for anyone that’s interested in supporting me in the development of this project”. There is a video on her page that documents her exploring the contents of someone’s bag. Ellie note that her goal for the project is to, “fund a BAG photo shoot and solo exhibition in Glasgow, Montana,” and the reason she wishes to photograph in Glasgow, Montana is, “to get away from the previously photographed urban areas.”  Ellie is looking to photograph people from a variety of backgrounds and professions that may not be found in urban areas. “The idea of adding a portrait of a cowboy or factory worker would add new depth to the existing project”, she said, and “the community in Montana is very excited to have this project coming to them, to enliven the arts community there.”

In June of 2010 Ellie performed a similar photo shoot in Urbana, IL. She went there and photographed the people of the community and their bags for the project. Their portraits were exhibited alongside portraits from NYC, Philadelphia and California. Her ability to photograph in Montana would broaden the scope of the people photographed even further. “Getting out of a city with this project has long been a goal of mine”, Ellie notes, and “photographing this project internationally in a long term goal.”

Hope for Hope Fundraiser @ Clay Studio – Jan 30

Please join us in support for Hope Rovelto, ceramic artist, PIE and CE instructor and UArts ceramic facility supervisor…and amazing creative soul.

On Nov 4th 2010 at 7am, Hope was on the corner of 2nd and Girard, two blocks from her house. She was walking across the street and without any notice a car, illegally taking a fast left hand turn at the light, hit her. The driver who hit Hope fled the scene. The accident left Hope with severe injuries to both her knees and since then Hope has had multiple surgeries and an extended hospital admission.

Hope has been through a long and arduous recovery and rehabilitation period, her medical bills are extensive and the loss to her physically and financially has been great. Artists, friends and supporters of creative individuals around the globe, have come together to support Hope by donating artwork that will  be sold at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia this Sunday. All proceeds from the sale will go to Hope Rovelto in aid of her medical bills and expenses.

Please join us this Sunday January 30 from 4pm to 7:30pm at the Clay Studio. There is a remarkable collection of artworks for sale hailing from some of the finest artists and makers in this country. Artworks for sale can be previewed online at

What Do You Think Will Be the Hottest Web Design Trends in 2011?

Here is a site that makes use of high-resolution photos + a predominant color.

Predicting the future is always  hit or miss, and that is all the more true when talking about the Web.  The Internet continues to evolve so fast and in so many directions,  due in large part to  the various social media tools, making the Web accessible to  people who never dreamed being part of it. In the weeks leading up to and immediately after the start of the new year, everyone was posting predictions about what 2011 held in store for web design. On January 4 Web Design Ledger (WDL) posted their own list, aptly titled, Web Design Trends in 2011. I think it was one of the best written and most thought provoking I’ve read. I just went back and reread the posting again this weekend and it prompted me to consider what our readers thought would be the hottest trend in web design for 2011.

For me, I am most interested not in seeing who is left standing, but the shape they are in, once the dust settles in the Android v. iPhone smack down. This summer, the Android surpassed the iPhone in terms of market share, with Droids taking 27% of the market and iPhones taking 23%. Now with a confirmed launch date, just how much of an impact Verizon’s  iPhone offering will have on Apple’s market share is anyone’s guess. Additionally, the Droid will continue to see improvements and a growing number of apps in their marketplace (one of the main arguments of iPhone proponents). But is the question really which operating system will reign supreme at all?

After you have had an opportunity to read the WDL article, leave a comment and let us know your thoughts on what you expect to see the web deliver in 2011.

Design Business: Intellectual Property Lecture @ UArts – Jan 27

Come learn about Intellectual Property issues at this upcoming AIGA lecture at UArts and better understand the business of design – Thu Jan 27 at 7:00 pm.

Frank Taney, an attorney with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney will discuss the main varieties of intellectual property (“IP”) and how they are likely to impact the work of design professionals.  You will learn about the basic ways to protect your IP and to avoid disputes over IP with clients and other third parties.

About the speaker: Frank’s practice focuses on complex commercial litigation in a variety of substantive areas, including information technology (IT), intellectual property, antitrust and construction.  Frank also represents his clients in a wide range of IT-related transactions and provides related dispute avoidance and business counseling.

Thursday, January 27, 2011
Light Refreshments 6:30 – 7:00pm; Lecture 7:00 – 9:00pm

Caplan Auditorium, 17th floor of Terra Hall, 211 South Broad Street
The University of the Arts
$30 for non-AIGA members
$15 for student non-AIGA members
$10 for AIGA members
Free for University of the Arts’ students, with official UArts ID

Come Explore a New Online Community of America's Finest Artists!

USA Projects is a community where America’s finest artists and those that love and support them can share their latest work, discover new artists, enter into a dialog with each other, and make direct donations (of any size, all of which are tax deductible) to new projects created by each artist. This is the first website in our knowledge that allows direct public donations between art patrons and accredited artists on the Internet.

USA Projects is in a “Beta” stage in which a few artists have been selected to participate. You can join this community and help it grow!

About United States Artists

United States Artists (USA’s) mission is to invest in America’s finest artists and illuminate the value of artists to society.

Supporting outstanding artistic talent has been realized by the USA Fellows program over the past 5 years. By the end of 2009, 213 artists had been named USA Fellows, each receiving a grant of $50,000, for a total of direct investment in artists equaling $10,000,000. USA’s investment funded new dances, poetry, films, theatrical productions, musical compositions, paintings, sculpture, and more. Worldwide audiences of all ages have encountered these stimulating new works in galleries, on stages, in print, and online.

USA has actively examined strategies to invest in more artists and increase awareness of artists in America beyond the successful USA Fellows program. These efforts led to the creation of USA Projects, where we aim to:

Foster community:

  • Build a social networking environment to facilitate conversation, community, and commitment
  • Become the place to look for “what’s happening near you” in the arts

Facilitate philanthropy:

  • Enable easy online contributions for accomplished artists’ projects
  • Establish a free online location for accomplished artists to showcase past work, current projects, and future plans
  • Create opportunities for accomplished artists to connect directly with donors
  • Support opportunities for community, corporate, and foundational engagement

Champion advocacy:

  • Create an opportunity to improve the “96/27 Gap” found in the appreciation of art versus artists
  • Cultivate a place to do “spot surveys” on issues impacting the arts/artists with links to arts advocacy opportunities

USA Projects is an act of optimistic belief in our nation and its outstanding artists. We still have much to learn, and hope you will engage, explore, and join us to help build a more creative future.

You can join as pioneer member today!

Meet & Mingle event – Wed Jan 19

Meet & Mingle with the Delaware Valley Green Building Council at a Happy Hour on Wed Jan 19, with amazing views of the city skyline.

Share ideas and conversation with thought leaders and knowledge seekers, innovators, and venture partners committed to sustainable buildings, business and communities in the Delaware Valley.

Wed Jan 19, 2011 | 6pm – 9pm
XIX Nineteen, the Hyatt at Bellevue, 19th Floor

Event is free
Cash bar, with Happy Hour specials
Download PDF here

Register here

Craft-Making + MLK Day of Service @ the National Constitution Center – Jan 17

Spend Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Mon Jan 17, at the National Constitution Center as it joins in the annual Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service, the largest Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event in the nation.

In the spirit of Dr. King’s vision for a more engaged community, National Constitution Center visitors can sew quilts, baby blankets and pillows for the local non-profit Women Against Abuse.  Children can also create special MLK-inspired crafts, including “Hands Across the World” chains and “I Have a Dream” mobiles.

Additionally, students from regional schools and local actors will read aloud Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech at noon and 2 p.m.

The day will conclude with a staff-led “Reflection Session” from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., during which volunteers can reflect on their experiences with service, what the holiday means to them, and how they feel Dr. King’s legacy is being carried out.

The Center’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events are free with museum admission.

MLK Day at the National Constitution Center
When: Mon Jan 17, 10 am to 5 pm
525 Arch Street
Cost: free with museum admission
(Adults $12, Seniors 65+ $11, Children 4-12 $8)
More info:

J.C. Duffy – Professional Cartoonist + CE Faculty Member

How did you discover you had a talent for cartooning?

I think I was back in art school when I began to be able to do drawings that looked funny. The writing part came a few years later and improved over time, as did the art.

How did your career unfold?

It was a slow process. In my early-to-mid-20s I would occasionally submit cartoons to the top magazines and get rejected. I wasn’t coming up with a lot of stuff and I was not disciplined about sending. Then I lowered my sights drastically and sent a cartoon to a very sleazy, low-rent men’s magazine and they bought it for 50 bucks. I sold them another one and raised my sights slightly, selling cartoons to a few slightly less sleazy men’s magazines (I never made it into Playboy). I was also still submitting to the top general interest magazines like the New Yorker once in a blue moon with no success. I was doing other things all during this period, and by my late 20s I got a little more serious about cartooning and worked up a book proposal, a collection of oddball cartoons and drawings. It was rejected by every publisher but one. They signed me when I was 29 and it came out when I turned 30. It was called Moot Points, and it got excellent reviews, but they didn’t promote it, so it didn’t sell very well. But that year I also began doing greeting cards for two different companies, so, all combined, I made a living as a cartoonist beginning with the book signing.

I branched out into some newspaper illustration and advertising art (both in a cartooning style) over the next few years. Then I worked up a proposal for my first comic strip, The Fusco Brothers. All of the newspaper syndicates turned it down, then a few years later a former major syndicate editor, Lew Little, syndicated it on his own, and it launched in 25 papers in 1989. This impressed Universal Press Syndicate enough that they took it over six months later and sold it to a lot more papers. Five Fusco book collections followed. With the decline of newspapers over the years, Fusco’s income has dropped, but it’s still running. During this period I also sold some cartoons to some mainstream magazines like Esquire, TV Guide and Lear’s (now defunct). In 1998 I decided to get serious about trying to break into the New Yorker and decided to commit myself to submitting 10 roughs per week for a year, as I’d read that they liked to see a consistent level of quality over time, and it could take as much as a year. After six weeks the  phone rang and it was the cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff, asking me if I was the same J.C. Duffy who did Moot Points. I said yes and he bought a cartoon, the first of many over the years.  Since then I’ve sold cartoons to Barron’s, Mad, Time and other magazines. I also did a second newspaper comic, Go Fish, for United Media Syndicate, which ran for five years.

What do you enjoy most about your job, your career?

I love being able to do something creative for a living, and I love working at home and making my own hours. When the income is good, it’s a great job. When it’s not, it’s not.

Could you share a photo of your workspace with us?

What was your greatest success?

I guess being in the New Yorker would be in a tie with having a long-running syndicated comic strip.

You’ve worked on many high-profile projects so far in your career, The Fusco Brothers, as well as writing and drawing cartoons for The New Yorker. What are some of your other favorite projects that you’ve completed in your career and why?

I liked Moot Points a lot, I re-read it a few years ago and I thought it held up well, and that it was very original. And I liked my edgier work in greeting cards. Not the occasion-based cards wishing somebody a Happy Whatever, but the weirder cards that were just self-contained gags and strange concepts. I like the few short humor pieces I have on Narrative magazine online, some of which are accompanied by my illustrations. And I especially get a kick out of my daily blog, Night Deposits, which contains cartoons, drawings, writings, etc. There’s no money in it, but I have complete freedom and it’s a fun creative outlet.

Describe a typical day of work for you?

I wake up whenever I wake up, make some coffee, and sit at the computer, where, these days, I do most of my work in Photoshop. Though I also spend time at the art table doing drawings the old fashioned way, which I scan into the computer. (The New Yorker still likes its cartoons done the old way from start to finish, then sent via FedEx.) Depending on what deadline is nearest, I’ll be working on Fusco, or magazine submissions or my blog, or whatever other proposals and projects I’m trying to work up. I’m also answering business emails and sending rejects from magazine A to magazine B, etc. In the evening, if I’m home, I’ll generally do blog material for my own amusement. Finally, before bedtime, I write and draw in blank books, partly for my own amusement, but also, when a book is filled I go through it and scan anything I think may be a potential magazine cartoon or comic strip. This is actually the main source for my magazine cartoon ideas.

What mediums do you use for your work?

I draw in my journals with either a rapidograph or a Flair pen. For finished art I use a rapidograph. I shade (dailies) or color (Sundays) comic strips in Photoshop. I color magazine cartoons in Photoshop, and I shade New Yorker cartoons with various gray markers.

Who is your favorite cartoonist?

I guess  I’d name the late B. Kliban.

What are some common myths about cartoonists?

Are there myths about cartoonists? I don’t know what they are, but I’ll bet they’re all true.

Tell us about your education. What did you like and dislike about your cartooning-related education?

I went to Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. I simultaneously dropped out and flunked out in my final year. I had no “cartooning-related education” there. It was primarily a fine arts school, and they did not encourage my cartooning tendencies, let alone teach anything on the subject.

How does a prospective art student assess their skill and aptitude for cartooning?

I suppose it’s hard to be objective about one’s own level of talent, in cartooning or anything else. I think you need to simply do a lot of it over time before you get good at it, if you ever do get good at it, but as far as assessing your skill and aptitude, at some point you need to ask yourself, as objectively as possible, if your drawing style has an amusing look, and more importantly, if the writing is funny. If not, try to make it funnier. There’s no easy answer for HOW you do that. If you feel you have it in you, and you’re driven to keep doing it, you’ll do it.

How can the reality of cartooning as a career differ from typical expectations?

I don’t know what typical expectations are, but the Golden Age of cartooning has passed. Newspaper comics are dying, and the number of magazines that run cartoons has dwindled drastically. Frankly, I would not advise anyone to choose cartooning as their prime career at this point in time. The odds would be against making a good living at it these days. As a sideline, sure, but don’t go into it with money as your goal.

What are some of the trends that you see in the field of cartooning which could help students plan for the future?

The trend is toward online cartooning, but unfortunately there’s currently very little money in online cartooning, and no one has yet come up with the new “model” that people talk about for how to make money that way. I have no advice for a plan for a future in cartooning. I don’t think anyone can predict how things will pan out in the industry. It might continue to whither on the vine, or there may be some new high-tech development that we can’t yet imagine that will offer some new venue that actually pays well.

What interests you about teaching?

I like the idea of passing along some of the benefits of my experience and knowledge to other people.

What will students learn from your class?

Along with firsthand information about many aspects of the business, I hope to get students to explore their own creative process and hopefully find ways to increase their creativity.

Is there anything else you can tell us about yourself, your career, or the profession that would be interesting or helpful to others aspiring to enter and succeed in cartooning?

Despite the state of the industry right now, cartooning used to be lucrative for those fortunate enough to succeed at it, and it may be again at some point in the future. And as far as creative outlets are concerned, it can be very rewarding on a personal level. Although this might be the wrong century for it, financially, I’m glad to be a cartoonist, creatively speaking. And if someone has a strong interest in pursuing it, I would tell them to do it strictly for their own satisfaction. While there is no guarantee of big bucks, the new “model” may be just around  the corner, and you won’t be in a position to benefit from that without entering the field in the first place. And in any event, if it’s something you enjoy doing, I would say do it for that reason alone.

JC Duffy will be teaching CE 2112 Cartooning with J.C. Duffy this semester during the spring 2011 Continuing Education semester.

New Typography Book, Call for Entries – Early Deadline Jan 21

Letter, Word, Sentence, Paragraph

A new typography book being published by HOW books is now accepting submissions.  Selected work will be featured in Letter, Word, Sentence, Paragraph due for release in early 2012.  There is no entry fee, so enter your best typography-based designs today and be a part of this exciting new book.

Early entry deadline:  Jan 21, 2011.
Final deadline is Mar 30, 2011
No entry fee.
Further details at: