A great scene in television and film requires the right balance of many elements. You know the ones – they’re often the kind that combine considered cinematography, astonishing acting and a perfectly crafted set design as the backdrop. Of course, film and TV set design is complicated enough in itself, and difficult to get perfect – if producers (like Broadchurch’s Chris Croucher, interviewed last year) can’t find the right design for a vital prop or background product, the equilibrium of a scene could be thrown off entirely.
Fortunately, that’s where quality designers come in. Film prop design is lucrative; with studios’ tendencies to forgo product placement (known brands) in favour of fake brands and products, there’s lots of opportunity for graphic designers to contribute to film set design. However, to successfully submit graphic design for TV and film, you have to know where to look – and what producers are looking for.
Well, it’s your lucky day. Here at Artwork Bazaar, we’re frequently sent requests from studios and production companies seeking specific graphic design elements for a set, and we’re going to share them with you. Join the Artwork Bazaar marketplace and add these quality designs to your portfolio, and you’re sure to be snapped up quicker than lights, camera, action!
1. Food labels: cereal boxes, tins and “cola” cans
Food and drink is so often taken for granted in scenes, however it does a great job of allowing (or rejecting) familiarity with a certain time period or region. Take Stranger Things, whose seemingly odd inclusion of “New Coke” in Season 3 cemented its setting in 1985 – when the soft drink was released (and later revoked). Conversely, Netflix’s region and time ambiguous Sex Education, which straddles decades from the 1970s to the present day with its carefully thought-out set design, products and costumes, ditches named brands entirely. Imagine how many different TV graphic design opportunities went into creating the set of Brown’s Stores.
2. Newspapers and letters
Though perhaps not good news for the disenfranchised, nothing reflects a town or country like its newspapers, making them a key feature in creating a sense of place in film and television. Producers seek quality designs for newspapers – something that resembles a real life broadsheet, but with an original name, stand out fonts and apt imagery. Harry Potter’s Daily Prophet and The Daily Bugle in Spiderman are both great examples of memorable newspapers in film.
3. Company logos and branding
It’s often forgotten than false brand names, and companies created purely for television and film, will need their logos, letterheads and other products designed for them – even something like an invoice needs a graphic designer’s touch. Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel has plenty of film prop design throughout, and much of which is given a shot of its own during the film – giving film and TV graphic designer Annie Atkins’ work pride of place. Take particular note of Mendl’s branding and the papers exchanged between M Gustave and the train guards in the film, all excellent examples of quality graphic design for TV and film.
4. Shop frontage and banners
Sometimes, producers and set managers can opt for their show’s message to be further driven home or played upon with shop frontage and banner design – which gives plenty of chance for designers to have a lot of fun creating TV and film graphics. In NBC’s The Good Place, the ‘Good Place’ is given a distinct mise-en-scène with vibrant, retro-style shop signs all featuring a food pun, reflecting the show’s characters’ penchant for wordplay. It’s small details like this which contribute towards the overall harmony of a show’s setting. Try to come up with designs for different genres of film, set across different time periods, paying particular attention to fonts used.
5. Posters for bedroom scenes
Nothing quite depicts an angsty teen like posters on their bedroom wall. From Ferris’ room in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, to Jonathan Byers’ room in Stranger Things to Juno’s room in, well, Juno, there’s plenty to be said for the way their creative minds are depicted in the designs displayed on their walls. These characters may not be the first that spring to mind when you think of the traditional ‘rebellious’ teen, but they certainly deviate from the status quo – and their well-designed bedroom art reflects that.
Submitting graphic design for TV and film
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or yet to get your first commission for film or television, the notes above are a great guide to where to start with your next designs. Why not take one of these points at a time and create 3-5 options for producers to look at on Artwork Bazaar? Worry not about finding the exact body text for a certain project, and focus more on your choice of fonts and design principles; if it’s right for a project, they’ll find you. Take inspiration from other fake brands created for film, or get motivated watching a film about some of art and design’s greats, and get creating!
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