When most people think about graphic design jobs, they envision working in marketing or advertising, doing websites, logos, and creating promotional materials for print or digital.
But there’s a whole other world of graphic design out there, in television and film. And we’re not just talking about movie posters (although, those can be incredibly cool works of art, in their own right).
Take well-known graphic designer for film, Annie Atkins, for example. She was the lead graphic designer for The Grand Budapest Hotel, and worked on everything from props to set pieces, to the typeset of the hotel sign (and movie title) itself.
In an interview with Creative Bloq, Atkins is quick to point out that, in film and television, graphic design extends to even the most minute details—like the newspaper an actor reads during a scene, and the packaging on merchandise in a store display—all of which must match the genre and historical period in which the story is set.
It’s all about creating a believable, authentic world. Design is an absolutely essential part of that story-telling process.
Think you’d like to pursue a career as a graphic designer for film and television? Here are the kinds of projects you’d be working on, and a few tips from experts in the field.
THE ROLE OF GRAPHIC DESIGNERS IN FILM/TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Simply put, a graphic designer on a TV or film production is responsible for creating any graphic pieces outlined in the script. They also create promotional materials, like movie posters and digital content.
Quite often, graphic designers work on period pieces (set in the past), where a lot of research is needed to replicate the exact style and presentation of things like building signage and newspapers.
Designers also work on fictional, sci-fi, and futuristic projects, developing a unique look and feel for the production—and essentially, doing their part to create a whole new world in which the story can unfold.
This is what it’s all about: moving the plot forward, and creating a compelling atmosphere through expertly designed visual elements.
Annie Atkins has done graphic design work for a wide range of TV and film, including The Boxtrolls, Vikings, Titanic: Blood and Steel, Bridge of Spies, and a historical mini-series called 1916. (See a full list of her work on IMDb)
She’s won awards for several of these projects, including two for The Grand Budapest Hotel (Excellence in Production Design Award and an HFCS Award for best poster design).
Atkins does the kind of finely detailed, high quality design work you’ll need to get good at to build a graphic design career in TV and film. A lot of the work is done entirely by hand.
She’s an expert in producing things like historically accurate passports, maps, postage stamps, telegrams and banknotes.
She studies historical periods and tracks down every detail, to ensure the designs she creates are as real as possible—both for the audience and for the actors on set, who use these prop pieces to get into character.