I recently left a comment here regarding Frank Darabont’s outrage that film posters don’t have sufficient artisitic credentials.
Personally, I think the trouble stems from the conception of design as art. It’s an age-old debate, and my (somewhat invertedly-snobbish) opinion is that it is born out of a high-mindedness that is part-and-parcel of a modern-day design degree. Because you have to fill those three years with something more than Photoshop, I suppose.
I think design can be viewed as art, but it should never be conceived as such. Its primary objective should be to sell something, even if that object is an idea. There are certainly clever and artful ways to sell films, but, especially for the big studio pictures that Darabont targets in his rant, they may not be the most efficacious in maximising cinema revenue. I mean, no one is bemoaning the lack of artistry present in advertising for toilet roll, are they? Maybe they are. I haven’t read my latest copy of Toilet Roll Advertising Herald (incorporating Tissue and Wipe Gazette).
But these commercial realities seem to be heretical in the minds of some filmmakers, who view their contribution solely as art, although, for almost any major studio picture, marketability is certainly a factor, and is very much involved in shaping the final product. And there is an irony present in that the person bemoaning the lack of subtlety and artfulness of film posters is Frank Darabont - screenwriter of The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption - did he write these as true expressions of his dark artist’s soul, or with an eye on the saleability of a good story with a happy/profound ending? Perhaps someone should ask Darabont not to write such populist films? When he writes an obscure black and white art film, perhaps scripted in a fictional language and cast solely with unknown lesbian Norwegian lumberjacks, perhaps he’ll get the artistic poster he so craves.
But what do I know? I’m just a graphic designer, endlessly photoshopping rows of heads on white backgrounds. I know nothing about art.