America’s visual language is imprinted all over the world. Its cultural global influence is immeasurable – from the ubiquity and innovation of Hollywood, Marvel, and Disney, to the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein or Andy Warhol.
“It’s an amazing collision of slab-serif fonts, ornaments, and fancy typography. In general terms, designers from the US tend to go for more cluttered layouts, while Europeans like white space, although there are exceptions to the rule.”
“I’m not sure that there is anything that really ties down the American look-&-feel,” counters Matthew Clugston. “I think there are instances of American artists who have pioneered styles that have been subsequently re-interpreted by designers.
“Josh Davis at www.praystation.com is someone who has evolved a unique style. He never pandered to design trends or styles, he’s always kept it fairly unique.”
The sheer size of the country has an effect on the way design is approached, according to Judy Wellfare. “Design in America has to reach a very diverse audience and so the look-&-feel of commercial work has to consider mass appeal,” she says.
“There is less room for experimentation and quirky humour. Europe and Asia on the other hand, have smaller, country-specific markets that are more culturally aligned, and the audience is more apt to ‘get’ culturally-specific and even abstract concepts.” All commercial design needs to satisfy the paying customer, and US clients need to appeal to a large middle ground. “The US is a conservative market on the whole,” affirms Judy Wellfare.
Blue sky thinking
Client: Mac cosmetics
“We’ve worked on several films with MAC Cosmetics over the last three years,” says designer Judy Wellfare. “For its summer line of make-up, we had to create a nostalgic film that evoked a sense of the glitz of the 1920s.”
The resulting film explores the memories of a woman in 1920s St Tropez, following her glamorous lifestyle over a single day.
“Working with the creatives at MAC, inspirations came from the time period itself, the style and bleached colours of old postcards, handwriting, flapper culture, and jazz,” says Wellfare. “We wanted to give the film a modern twist, and this is where the animation came into play, bringing postcards to life.
“The design team shot elements in stop motion and live action, created some in Maya and then brought them all together in After Effects.”