CREATIVE INSPIRATIONS CREDITS
In the fall of 2011 online learning company lynda.com made an hour-long documentary about my work for their “Creative Inspirations” series. Their camera team, centered around director Scott Erickson and producer David White, interviewed me at work, followed me to press checks, to the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, and to the launch of my book You Deserve A Medal. Just prior to the premiere of the film they asked me if I’d like to hand-letter the credits. Well, obviously.
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The whole process of making the film was fairly intense. I certainly like to hear myself talk, but to do it in front of a camera for hours on end over a period of months… After a while you understand that you’re completely at the mercy of the filmmakers. My friend Doyald Young had been the subject of the team’s previous documentary, and they were already preparing to shoot Marian Bantjes for the one following me. Call it “The OCD Trilogy.”
We all exchanged notes about our various anxieties. There were definitely unnerving bits to the proceedings, and to have two friends and mentors help me with reality checks was very comforting. It was oddly wonderful that we all got to share this parallel experience. Of course, all three of us became friends with Scott and David and the whole team, too.
The trailer for the documentary on Doyald Young. I miss him.
I remember coming home after a particularly involved few hours of shooting my regular nighttime walk. Some questions were easily and succinctly answered. Others got me riffing a bit more. Thinking back to what I’d said on camera made me realize that a less than kind editor could easily assemble a pretty solid half hour of unvarnished douchebaggery, to borrow a term from Patton Oswalt. Luckily, lynda.com wasn’t out to produce a hard-hitting expose on the dark side of 344, but to provide something that would get their audience excited about leading a creative life. They made me sound halfway sane and on-point, which couldn’t have been easy. My thanks to editor Tracy Clarke on that one!
Scott and David had the idea of having me hand-letter the credits, and of course I was excited to do it. They didn’t give me a lot of time, which kept me from worrying about making things too precious. I just started drawing. I got most of the titles in one or two takes, though there was a fair amount of cursing on the title cards with three or four names. There’s nothing like getting all the way to the last name, and then misspelling “John.” It took me until the premiere of the film—held in great style at Art Center College of Design—that Tracy Clarke does not have a middle initial. I was thinking of Arthur C. Clarke.
For these cards I did cut my usual letter-sized paper in half, so I could work faster. knew I wanted to fill in the letterforms, and it would’ve taken twice as long on a full sheet. I’m not averse to the extra work, but it would’ve put too much emphasis on the coloring over the actual drawing once I compressed the footage into its final time-lapsed form.
You can see the full documentary at this link. It’s a gorgeous piece of film. In it you’ll find new Monsters, lots of beautifully shot and edited footage of my life here in Los Angeles, and a few choice stories you won’t hear anywhere else. If you’re not a subscriber yet, I hope you’ll enjoy this free trailer: