Monday, April 2, 2018

Sounds of the City

In early August, I was contacted by Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles to participate in their group tribute which was to showcase original artwork from 'Focus Features' catalog of films.  The show originally ran from September 16th through October 4th, 2017.  I was provided with a list of their films, many of which I was familiar with, but only one really resonated with me, Sofia Coppola's 'Lost in Translation', starring Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson.

The film centers on the unorthodox relationship between American transplants, actor Bob Harris, and  college graduate Charlotte in Tokyo.  The two form a strong platonic bond, and while distant from their current love interests, they manage to enjoy the sites and scenes of the foreign land they're in. 

I did my usual research for the project, by watching the film, and capturing reference.  I knew early on that I wanted the piece to reflect classic Japanese brush painting, or illustration work.  To do so, I had a very limited palate to work with (only black, grey, white, and red).  My layout was pretty flexible at this point, and was actually vertical initially.  The main elements I wanted to include from the film were the main characters of Bob, and Charlotte, Tokyo, and the music.  I opted to portray Charlotte's character from the iconic Shibuya Crossing scene, and Bob's from his Suntory Whisky ad.  I knew I could include Bob on a billboard, but Charlotte was more of a challenge.  The city backdrop came together a bit more easily, although I did attempt to lay things out geographically correct.  Later when the layout shifted to a horizontal format, I was able to add Charlotte, and the crosswalk in the foreground.  Typical of most Coppola films, the music in the film further accentuates the emotional, and moody atmosphere, and it was essential (to me), that I include it in the design.  It was then that I had the idea to incorporate the song titles from the soundtrack in the lines of the crosswalk.  I decided that in order to really sell myself on the style of the piece, any writing would need to be in Japanese.  Luckily for me, I had a good friend who had studied Japanese for many years, and was able to get the translations I needed.  I then hand wrote all the characters myself (so if they're bad), and altered the crosswalk to look like an equalizer.  I also wanted the crosswalk to reflect the city, since both the music, and the city were very closely connected.  The last thing the piece needed was some kind of border.  I googled some designs, and found a few that looked authentic enough to work for the piece.

The work is entirely digital, done in Illustrator, Photoshop, and Painter.
Prints are currently available through the gallery's website here.

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