It’s been a particularly busy summer at Wingsart with several collaborative projects underway that I hope to share soon. The first of these has already landed on Apple Arcade, and there’s more TV and film work just around the corner.
The Wingsart website has seen a refresh that signals my commitment to hand-drawn fonts and title design. I’ve also released a new slime themed font just in time for Halloween, and found the time to visit the sunny Biennale film festival, inspiring my Movies in Venice segment later in this issue. Like summer in the UK, this issue arrives late. My bad! Enjoy!
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I originally planned to limit this collection to 18 titles. Partly as a way of giving myself an end goal, and partly as a cool ’18+’ branding device for the bundle once completed. Having now reached 20, with more to come, i’ve decided to scrap that idea and run with an entirely new sub-section of the website just for these grungy old movie fonts. Offering horror, sci-fi and thriller, you can now find them affectionately displayed on what I refer to as ‘the infinite video shelf’. Take time to browse and look out for new releases coming soon!
Never before have I been required to repeatedly draw the same two words than when I was approached by L.A. based DevaStudios to assist in their project for Apple Arcade. Through several rounds of sketching and pixel pushing we journeyed towards the perfect balance of the hand-drawn and Apple’s trademark simplicity; before signing off on the version that’s now showing across promotional videos, Apple.com, and even as an actual neon sign in selected stores!
Variations of this font have been living/growing on my drawing board for quite a while, so i’m happy to finally release my own outrageous slime font! Designed to have a light-hearted and cartoony feel, my reference points are more Garbage Pail Kids than gore-fest horror movies. Entirely inked by hand in a style typical of comics from the 70s and 80s, it comes in 5 different flavours with lots of alternatives to ensure you can achieve a truly hand-made look. There’s also a bunch of clip art included, with body parts, mutations, drips, frames and more. Get yours for Halloween!
While researching a project based around retro gaming I discovered the excellent publishing output of Bitmap Books. I’ve already added several of their titles to the studio bookshelf and I can safely recommend them all. I wanted to highlight their latest release, The Art of the Box, which interviews key artists responsible for video-game packaging during the early days of Atari, Spectrum and NES.
It contrasts an old-school illustration led approach with the techniques used today (3D models, Photoshop and game assets), but it’s in the brilliantly reproduced vintage cover art where it truly shines. Yes, the marketing tactics back then were dubious, often over-promising on the actual games; but I love that they worked so hard to stir up our imaginations to see beyond the 8-bit graphics of the day. Highly recommended!
Getting in the mood for a few days in Venice requires more than guide books and a few YouTube videos. This ancient city floating on the water needs a more cinematic approach. If you’re looking to get into an equally Venetian mood, try these!
Death in Venice: A slow and meditative film, with a stand-out performance from Dirk Bogarde as a chronically ill composer who seeks solitude on Venice’s Lido. The film follows his final days consumed by a troubled past and a desperate fantasy of youth. Directed by Luchino Visconti (The Leopard, Conversation Piece), it’s the high-brow option on this list and essential Venice sightseeing.
Summertime: A virtual travelogue directed by David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago) and told through the eyes of a romanced Katherine Hepburn. This is peak Venice in film, that perfectly captures the feeling of being lost in new surroundings, and interesting for just how little has changed since it was made in 1955.
Don’t Look Now: A notorious horror that takes full advantage of Venice’s quiet alleyways and dark dead-ends. An effective ghost story that plays with ideas surrounding grief and clairvoyance. I watched this in a screening with film students a few years ago, who laughed through scenes once considered terrifying and controversial. It sure doesn’t play so well to a modern audience!
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: In the last of the good Indiana Jones movies, we find Harrison Ford robbing a Venetian library/church, having a punch-up with an ancient religious order, and destroying a few boats in a high-speed chase through the city; none of which happened to me during my stay.
007×3: James Bond takes regular trips to Venice, featuring in From Russia with Love, Moonraker and Casino Royale, where the world’s most beautiful city shares almost as much screen time as the Sony product placement.
Spider-Man: Far From Home: Probably the last Marvel film I enjoyed before the superhero fatigue set in, this features Peter Parker and fellow classmates on a whistle stop tour of the city before things turn into a CG slug match around the Rialto bridge.
Tales of Hoffman / Top Hat: Both this Powell & Pressburger opera film and the Fred & Ginger musical portray Venice as stylised backdrops in support of their amazing set pieces. A visual shortcut to the romantic ideal the city is so famous for, gondolas included.
Special Mention: Hit Man: After waking up at 3am that morning to catch a flight, followed by a sweaty day of further travel and sightseeing around the city, my wife and I were fully prepared to take a nap during Richard Linklater’s Hit Man, showing that evening as part of the Venice Film Festival. It’s a tribute to the film that it grabbed us from the start, turning out to be a sharp, dark comedy, refreshingly upbeat, and lots of fun. It’s the story of a mild-mannered school teacher working part-time as an undercover hitman, collecting evidence on those who might want to seek his services. Discovering that he has certain flair for the job, he starts to adopt a range of theatrical personalities tailored to each unsuspecting victim.
You might have noticed a trend lately for new Blu Ray releases to ditch the special features that were once a selling point of the format. While proudly wearing a ‘Special Anniversary Edition’ badge, most re-issues today only contain a fraction of what was available on older editions. Case in point, the new Exorcist and Enter The Dragon 4k Blu Ray remasters. Sure they look great, but not the complete package one might have hoped for.
So, in celebration of the dying art of special features, I wanted to draw attention to what I think is the single best ‘collectors set’ around; Blade Runner. Again, you need to be careful here, because if you pop into your local HMV or order the latest 4K on Amazon, you likely receive an edition missing the vital component; Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner.
This three-and-a-half hour documentary explores every last inch of the Blade Runner production from the original book to Ridley Scott’s 2007 Final Cut. If you can find the 30th Anniversary Edition Blu Ray, this also includes HD versions of all three alternate cuts (featuring significant changes), a complete work print, and additional features that focus on costume design, cinematography, and poster art with John Alvin and Drew Struzan. It’s one of the most complete archives on any film available, and to have this (as a huge Blade Runner fan) is quite remarkable. Sometimes I think you can skip film school altogether and just seek out these extra features instead!
Scrolling through Instagram (something I rarely do nowadays) I hit on this example of my font Outright Horror, appropriately at work on this Blu Ray cover for Tales Of Halloween, designed by Gareth Gibson of Gibson Graphix. Check out his poster work here >
With the Hollywood writers and actors strike inching closer to a resolution, it looks like a major part of the entertainment industry is getting to grips with the appropriate use of AI. Interestingly, I received an unexpected payment from Adobe Stock recently that reported to cover additional royalty payments for stock images used as source for their AI engines; presumably Photoshop’s new (and impressive) Firefly tool. Apparently, this wasn’t necessary as it’s already part of their contributor T&Cs, but Adobe believe its authors should be fairly compensated for the use of their images. Credit to them for doing this (I’ve yet to see similar action from any other stock sites), but I wonder if this signals an industry-wide approach that could allow creators to breath a sigh of relief.
I remain convinced that creativity will always win out, and with the continued exposure to AI generated content, a greater indifference will follow; much like how our attention might wander during yet another CGI set piece. Business will always change with the times, and if AI can be a useful tool in the creation of something new, that’s fine by me, but if all it leads to is a flood of homogenous content, then I think it’s days are already numbered. And that could very likely usher in a new period of small, interesting and independent projects. A reason to be optimistic maybe?