Sunday, November 29, 2009

Making an Icon: Mister K

A month ago I interviewed with Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) to have Playlab NYC put together a presentation of a show in December. The show, called The Arresting Dilemma of Mr. K, is a musical based on Franz Kafka's The Trial. It was written by John Sparks, former artistic director of the Theatre Building Chicago, and Playlab NYC Lab Assistant, Jon Steinhagen.

Shortly after it was agreed that Playlab NYC would produce the reading with TRU, they asked me to get them a piece of artwork for the show in a week. Of course I ran right to our graphic designer/illustrator Rob Ullman.

I passed along a few images to get the ball rolling and show him what was floating around in my head. What I was thinking of was a silhouette of a man running with a gavel coming down on him. Something that recalled the work of Saul Bass.

High contrast, black and white with maybe one color.

I also passed along to an image from the Orson Welles 1962 adaptation of the same book.

Rob soon came back with a sketch of the guy and gavel in white, against a black background. He suggested that the title would be done in blocky Saul Bass-inspired lettering, in a combo of a second color and white.

I liked where Rob was going with the image. I thought that the gavel needed to be more imposing. I found the piece clip art below that I forwarded to Rob.

Looking at the clip art image I wondered if the Saul Bass letters could be over the handle in the top left at an angle that paralleled the gavel. Then in the area under the gavel where that black curve is could be the man running. Bigger gavel. Smaller man.

Whereas our other show graphics were enclosed in a circle, I liked that this time the image was a rectangle. Because the show was a reading being presented by TRU, the image allowed us to keep with Rob's usual visual style while keeping it separate from our more fully produced shows.

Thankfully this image came together very quickly. Once again Rob stepped up with a great design that we love to splash all over anything we can find, T-shirts, postcards, programs, and the internet.

Thanks again, Rob.

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