Sundance Film Festival



Sundance is the world’s premiere venue for independent film, and so has become a mecca for the unpredictable. Our design for the 2001 festival became our own kind of cinematic adventure, combining a cast of curious characters into a world of surprise and drama.

The Sundance Film Festival project was the ultimate test of my small office’s working method, which had been developed over time to thwart predictability. I split the initial investigations — photograms, spirograph drawings, costumed portraits, and type collages — among the staff, encouraging each to pay minimal attention to their colleagues’ work. Only when the separate results came together at my desk would we know what we were accomplishing. A process like this is filled with pitfalls. There is always a danger that in the end, nothing will work. And with such extraordinarily tight deadlines, the possibility felt dangerous, indeed.

As the elements trickled in, I searched for pairings that seemed to enjoy each other’s company, seeking relationships that developed from an inner logic or resonance. As it progressed, our work became our own sort of film. Each page was a stage, filled with actors and props, foreground and background. Characters and scenes developed every day; each printed piece was a new episode, progressing as the festival progressed, from initial inspiration to building, attending, applauding, and discussing. The complete Sundance project involved a lot of pieces. Some, like the catalogs and posters, were complicated productions. Others, like tickets and signage were one-of-a-kind designs. But every detail of every piece was addressed with care, and all of them fit together — not like the interlocking of a corporate brand, but like scenes that accumulate to create a strange but satisfying film.