Welcome to the NEW Wingsart Newsletter – A Halloween Special!
A short intro if you don’t know me already- I’m Chris, a graphic designer working from a well-furnished cave in Somerset under the name of Wingsart Studio. My professional career started in publishing, after which a questionable return to film school (I’ll tell you about it sometime) led to a pivot into the world of fonts – specifically, hand-drawn fonts for movie titles and TV shows used by the likes of Netflix, Disney & Marvel.
This new format newsletter is part of a general move away from social media. Taking things old-school with a little zine for sharing new work, personal influences and tips on what I think is worth your time. It’s for creating genuine connections with like-minded people, away from the growing irrelevance of Instagram. It’s mainly going to be film, art, fonts, shameless self-promotion, and grown-up discussions about the creative industry. At the very least I think it’ll be interesting.
I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to email in your letters or questions to: email@example.com.
A Hand-drawn Display Font for Creating the Most Diabolical Horror Titles!
My latest font is a horror themed design (just in time for Halloween!) that takes particular inspiration from the Italian Giallo subgenre of horror/thriller. If you’ve ever seen the original Suspiria, then you’ve experienced Giallo. Bright, colourful, intense, psychological movies that have gained a cult following for a stylish flair that separates them from American or British horror.
Cinema Macabre is a hand-drawn, loose and inky design that aims to capture the feeling of vintage horror, preserving the analogue details of old print while remaining versatile enough to work across a variety of digital projects. It includes six fonts, each containing a unique set of uppercase and lowercase characters, as well as numerals, punctuation and language support. Add to this a host of custom ligatures, underlines and graphic elements and you have an essential toolbox for creating truly hand-made looking title designs.
First comes the idea, then reference, then a simple sketch. In the case of this little ‘P’ you can break its evolution down into 3 fundamental stages. First, a draft, where I’ll work out basic forms and guides for brush work. I’ll then tighten up the drawing and ensure that everything works in relation to all the other letters, paying attention to weight, interlocking forms and negative space. Inks come next – in this case a combination of heavy brush strokes and a lighter brush pen, scanned, cleaned and processed as a vector, ready to be turned into a glyph. This same process is repeated 232 times for each glyph, then (in the case of Cinema Macabre) a further five times for all of the alternatives. 232 x 6 = 1,392 little drawings. Yikes!!!
For the brave designer, Cinema Macabre will reward experimentation with the many upper and lowercase alternatives, revealing interesting letter combinations that will inspire terror across your own movie posters, book covers, albums and editorials. Few other fonts offer the versatility to create such diabolical designs!
In popular cinema, Giallo is a genre of Italian pulp fiction that often contains slasher, psychological horror, exploitation, supernatural and erotic elements.
The term Giallo (meaning yellow) derives from a series of pulp novels published by Mondadori from 1929 taking the name from its trademark yellow covers. The series consisted of Italian translations of mystery novels by well-known authors such as Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe and Raymond Chandler. The popularity of these cheap paperbacks eventually established the word Giallo as a synonym in Italian for a mystery novel.
The cinematic Giallo subgenre developed during the 1960-80s, and are noted for their vivid cinematography, memorable soundtracks and inventive gore-filled scenarios. Key examples include Dario Argento’s Suspiria, Tenebrae and Deep Red – distinctly stylish films that at once influenced the American slasher (see Black Christmas and Friday 13th) and modern day horror such as Censor and Last Night In Soho.
They developed a reputation during the 1980s for extreme violence and sexual themes, somewhat exaggerated by a hysterical British government who conveniently listed them them as ‘Video Nasties’, but many have since been reappraised as masterpieces of genre cinema. If I could suggest an entry point into the world of Giallo, seek out the many Arrow Video editions of Dario Argento’s films, particularly Suspiria, Phenomena and The Bird With The Crystal Plumage.
The next time you watch this fun show, take note of the title design featuring my very own Endless Sunrise font working to put the She in She-Hulk. What’s especially cool is that they use it a lot, across multiple animations and the excellent end credit sequences. I couldn’t be happier to see it used like this.
While the verdict might be out on the film (it sort of looks a little iffy?) the trailer for the new Dungeons & Dragons movie does include my Zombie Punks font used on some epic intertitles. Fingers crossed for a good movie.
Have you spotted my fonts in the wild? Be the first to catch one and email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize!
Having set myself the futile task of picking my top ten movies for Halloween, I’ve settled on a list of personal favourites to chill the dark nights of October.
I could easily add another 50, (where’s Halloween? you ask, or The Lost Boys, The Exorcist, The Thing, Creepshow 2, Salems Lot, The Shining, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the D…..Oh boy) but these are all films that I can watch again and again, and somehow sum up that perfect Autumn Halloween feeling.
10. The Uninvited – In this classic from 1944 a composer and his sister can’t believe their luck when they buy an old seafront mansion for peanuts. Little do they know of its ghostly past.
9. Dead and Buried – With a sharp script from Dan O’Bannon (Alien) this misty movie pits a small town sheriff against some small town zombies. An under-seen gem with many standout moments.
8. The Burbs – This pitch perfect comedy from Joe Dante pits a paranoid Tom Hanks against cannibal neighbours from hell. “It came with the frame” and “Sardines?” are quoted often in my house.
7. Poltergeist – In another suburb gone wrong, a truly unique Zelda Rubinstein aims to “cleanse this house” from evil spirits. A full-blown spooky Spielberg epic directed by Tobe Hooper, and lots of fun.
6. The Return of the Living – Dare I say it, better that the Romero Zombies, this punk-infused, darkest of the dark comedy has an authentic, lightning in a bottle quality that couldn’t be matched by it’s many sequels – although Part 2’s not bad.
5. The Fog – A campfire ghost story in movie form, this is one of my favourites from John Carpenter that slow builds an atmosphere of impending doom upon a quaint coastal town. “Mom, look a this neat piece of wood!”
4. The Changeling – After the accidental death of his wife and child, George C. Scott finds seclusion in an old dark house, but soon suspects he may not be alone. A seriously creepy ghost story that would be perfect if not for an overblown ending.
3. Fright Night – Charley Brewster thinks his neighbours are vampires and seeks the help of an ageing horror actor to help him. One of the best 80s vampire movies. This was on constant rotation in the VHS days and remains a favourite. Avoid the lame remake.
2. Army of Darkness – The most fun of the Evil Dead movies with peak Bruce Campbell. I remember absolutely hating this the first time around – maybe not completely appreciating the laughs at first. What as I Thinking? It’s a classic!
1. The Old Dark House – This 1932 classic featuring Boris Karloff set the template for horror cliches to come, but remains brilliantly sharp amongst the thunderstorms, lost couples, isolated country mansions and eccentric inhabitants.
Both Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart and Christopher Pike’s The Midnight Club feature in new TV adaptations this month. The Netflix trailer for Midnight Club implies a lot of ghostly shenanigans that’s not in the original book, which is actually a straightforward tale of terminally ill teens sharing quite wishful stories of reincarnation and the like.
Hellraiser, however, looks to double down on it’s bloody, sadistic themes. But I still can’t imagine it matching the original book, which actually made me feel a bit sick when I first read it. Testament to Barker as a great horror writer.
If you’ve never ventured into the world of H.P. Lovecraft I highly recommend seeking out the short story ‘The Outsider’ which, at only a few pages long, remains an impressively eerie, atmospheric tale.
For some ghoulish eye-candy I’ve selected a few art books that cover poster artists working across film and book illustration. Head over to my Youtube channel for short flick-throughs of each, including Basil Gogos, Graham Humphrey’s and Gary Pullin.
While I can’t recommend the film itself (it’s awful except for some cool matte paintings) the recent Blu Ray of Red Sonja from Studio Canal does include the excellent documentary, The Last Movie Painter.
This feature-length bonus feature centres around the illustrator and film poster artist Renato Casaro – known for his key art on movies such as Terminator 2, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood and several of the Giallo titles mentioned above. Comparable to the equally excellent Drew: The Man Behind the Poster, it’s rare to have such an intimate look at a niche part of the movie business. Pick it up if you see the blu ray on sale.
Grab 30% off all my horror themed fonts. Simply enter the code “SEASONOFTHEWITCH” at checkout. My treat for Halloween!
AI technology has long promised to replace humans in the workplace. A theme explored in depth by Yuval Noah Harari in his excellent Sapiens series of books, in which he concludes that artificial intelligence will ultimately create a useless class of people.
But even in his writing, AI is the territory of industrial and repeatable processes for which our best option is currently human labour. While it’s perceivable that AI could prove effective on the factory lines, or in transport and healthcare, the creative industries have felt (to me at least) somewhat immune. After all, AI is just a big calculation machine, not a creative thinker with imagination, feelings and stories to tell.
That’s until I started to read about software such as Dall-E2 and Stable Diffision, which, when fed a few simple keywords can generate an image of anything with surprisingly impressive results. One of the most convincing examples of this was a recent Corridor Crew video in which a complete story was created in a fantasy art style, with recognisable faces and scenarios, made entirely with the Stable Diffusion software. It’s worth checking out.
So what does this mean for creators? Well, the software can’t do anything without the input itself, and everything it generates is taken from other sources across the internet. Interestingly, I received an email from Getty Images the other day that announced a ban on any AI generated content stating “There are open questions with respect to the copyright of outputs from these models and there are unaddressed rights issues with respect to the underlying imagery and metadata used to train these models.” So that would suggest an industry-wide consensus that this type of content doesn’t conform to copyright law and isn’t ‘ownable’ by it’s creator (or keywordsmith – did I just invent a word?).
What it seems perfect for right now is generating quick concept art that can be pitched, selected and then fully explored by a professional artist. My concern is that the project managers who employ these artists might not see or care about the difference, and treat AI as a shortcut to completion. If experience is anything to go by, the people at the top rarely value or understand the design aspect of their business and could see it as a potential cost-saving measure to avoid designers altogether. That’s admittedly a bleak concept, but it’s something we should all consider as the software ultimately improves, laws adapt and consumer appetites change.
What do you think?
Share your thoughts via email at email@example.com to be included in the next issue.
If you’ve read all the way to the end of this newsletter I owe you huge thanks. I hope you’ll join me for the next issue where I’ll be introducing the last of the Video Store Collection, asking why am I so attached to physical media?, and offering more movies and books worth checking out.
© Oct 2022 Designed and Written by Christopher King / Wingsart Studio
Sources: An Introduction to to Giallo – Wikipedia “Giallo”
Fonts used this issue:
Permanent Park, Zombie Punks, Cinema Macabre, Them Bones, Nightmare Street, Endless Sunrise, Outright Horror, Shock Block, Night Visions, Flat Brush, HorrorScope, Courier and Roboto.