I just started watching “Mad Men.” Yes, I’m a few years late jumping on the bandwagon, but now I’m hooked. Having worked in collaborative environments for many years, I found myself nodding quite often as the designers, writers, salespeople and management all had to answer to each other – though they’re much better dressed than your average agency these days. But ... SPOILER ALERT!
I’m only three episodes in, and I hear graphic designer Sal is off the show! I’ve been trying to avoid why, since I have a couple of seasons to catch up on. But I’ve really been enjoying his sassy bantering during liquor-fueled brainstorming meetings. They even inspired me to learn to make the perfect old-fashioned. Films and TV shows about graphic designers seem difficult to come by. I can come up with a number of publishing and advertising ones: “All the President’s Men,” “Suddenly Susan,” “The Paper,” “Crazy People” (seriously underrated) and “Just Shoot Me.” But why aren’t there more surrounding the creative process? It seems like a concept that would lend itself to an interesting plot, since designers deal with demanding clients, creative blocks, coffee and cigarette overload, and all-night sessions. But no. At least graphic design is well represented in a couple of documentaries. “Art & Copy” is a doc about the advertising world and includes interviews with the people who came up with iconic taglines such as “Got Milk” and “Where’s the beef?” It covers the evolution of product marketing from the ’60s and on. Director Doug Pray states on the film’s website that his goal with “Art & Copy” is to inspire “artists and writers to strive to make more meaningful, more entertaining or more socially uplifting ads.” The movie is not available in mainstream theaters or for rental, but check the website for screenings. An entire documentary about a font? Yes, “Helvetica” is just that. But, as its website states, the film “looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which recently celebrated its 50th birthday in 2007) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives.” There’s a psychology aspect, as Helvetica is the most popular font in the world and therefore the typeface we see more than any other. The movie discusses how it’s used in the different aspects of graphic design. It’s available for rental. I can’t resist mentioning “American Psycho” in a discussion about the importance of graphic design. My favorite scene is where Patrick Bateman and his companions compare business cards. Bateman is so jealous that Paul Allen has a more attractive card that he decides to kill him. A design worth dying for? Now there’s something to strive for.