If you have been following us on twitter you will have seen a few sneak peaks of the development of our logo.

A logo is an incredibly important element and fiendishly difficult to get right. I tried my hand at a few for the Fitzroy (you can see them here if you want). It was quiet evident we needed a professional to come on board. So we turned to Gary Haslam who very kindly agreed to help us out, not only that but he has offered to do a blog all about his process, it’s a fascinating read..

..And here it is.

Fancy designing a logo for a new film?.. and some posters? Briefs like that don’t come along very often for me, in fact its only the second time, so it was obviously a ‘YES’.

From a designers point of view,… well, from mine anyway, it’s a welcome change from the normal day-to-day design work, particularly when you specialise in digital. It’s also more of a passion and interest than a job. Film logos/branding/posters/adverts/trailers and title sequences have been a source of inspiration for a long time.

The 80′s iconic posters for action films, a bit cheesy in places, but that style/imagery of the lead characters incorporated with scenes from the movie… look at Raiders of the Lost Ark/Star Wars… the paintings, yes, actual paintings by Richard Amsel and Drew Struzan… remain favourites of mine to this day.

Then you have great posters where the design was as considered and broke out of the normal movie poster format.. The American, Social Network (Neil Kellerhouse’s awesome work), The Hurt Locker (lots of variation created.. always good to see what the other concepts were), Rosemary’s Baby.. great format with image as the key element with understated text set bottom middle on white, so very cool… along with the similar designs used on many Blaxploitation movies from the early 70′s….hey!, it’s my list… I could go on and on… and that’s not even getting into the titles yet.

Casino. Saul Bass.. the lights as the film title gently sweeped over them… Gattaca.. wonderful macro, slow motion with the simplest type imaginable.. Fargo, so similar, yet different and as classy. Casino Royale, not the 50′s version, but Danny Kleinmans best (in my book) Bond title sequence to date. Skyfall has a lot to live up to and as you canguess,…can’t wait to find out. Dragon Tattoo, again, awesome 3D and type and a concept that pulls in so much more from the film.. the data cables, Daniel Craig’s 3D model, the black oil and fantastic detail…Sherlock Holmes. The posters/main and end titles, great illustrative style, incredible detail. HBO’s The Pacific (ok, not strictly a ‘movie’.. stunning titles tho, nonetheless… Prologue and Imaginary Forces certainly leading the way in such an engaging artform.

Ok, time to stop, but it’s this that interests me. So, back to the Fitzroy. A submarine. 1950′s. Margate. Hotel. How do you blend them all together? I start researching and sketching. Looking at hotels from the 50′s. The Fontainebleu and other slick US ones come up time and time again and it’s these that I start to take reference from for the type. No colour yet, just the design of the logo. And so it begins. Illustrator and going through the font foundries I know and love. Hoefler Frere-Jones, House Industries (usually so perfected suited to a project like this), Identikal, Village as well as the more classic serifed individual fonts I’ve used over the years. A rather large illustrator document starts to form of these and other fonts to see how they feel and if they suit the job.

As I can’t leave it as a standard typed out logo, I start the next process of experimentation of the type, cutting in characters, changing widths, strokes, counters and tails to adapt and personalise what eventually will become the bespoke logo for the hotel.. and film. This part is where I lose hours, painstakingly recutting letters to improve legibility.. my main concern with this type of project. Yes, its got to look cool and right for the era, but it has to work as a movie poster logo… something you’d catch a glimpse of on a bus shelter poster or tube station. Characters start to change as I redraw and edit letters to improve it. Such a tricky process to retain the original style and not look out of place in the overall design.

It already feels like a handcrafted style, the time/location/hotel… it just feels right, but then so do the more stylized typefaces that were used around that time. Some initial early reference from the Fitzroy team point me to the elaborate Metropolitain train signage in France. The Flamingo and Sands hotels also ‘feel’ right, although we don’t
quite get across the British quirkiness thats needed to feel at home on the promotional material for a dark, black comedy. But we try them.

And others. H&FJ Topaz works well as an alternate option. Given the wide letter spacing, the double line, the clear/legible characters and a slightly quirky ‘the’… I feel like we are on to a winner.

With the scripty one, we look at alternate cuts, again, trying to simplify and get to that final one. A new ‘z’ and new ‘r’.. the ‘i’, a new swoosh off the top of the t, cutting into the dot on  the ‘i’ or not…

The scripty, hand-drawn versions are still liked and the process of refinement pushes along the 2 versions that became the forerunners on Twitter for the final design. A really nice idea for a crowdfunded project.. get the opinions of those who have a vested interested in the movie and involve them in the process of the movies development… and the first time I’ve had design work ‘voted’ for outside the of the normal studio’s walls.

And here we are. The votes are in. The decision made! The scripty one wins, but in the words of Karen and Richard, ‘we’ve only just begun’. Now comes the poster designs, the titles, the invites, posters,  flyers..

It’s time to start to incorporate the other design elements which have yet been excluded from the logotype (although initially experimented with), but will push the overall look and feel into other directions. We’ve the hotel. its a submarine for f*£@$! sake, how cool is that! and its beached off Margate. there has to be something with the skyline,.. holiday’esque, yet not overly familiar.

The initial design work by Marko Anstice  has already set a wonderful tone (NB: Marko did the awesome illustrations for our website)… the colours and style reflecting superbly the dark undertones of the movie idea, whilst remaining comical, but not childish. Great depth and detail.

OK, we’ve added the logo to the site design, but when it’s folded into the rest of the image, I think we’ll start to see something we’ll all be very proud of. Most definitely, one for the folio.

 I can’t thank Gary enough for the work he put into the logo, I really love it and Like Gary says it’s going to be incredibly exciting to see it folded in to the rest of the project and graphic elements. If you would like to see more of Garys work check out his website.