A stylistic expansion inspired by the opening credits of "Mad Men"

“…It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.”

Just when I thought I was gonna make myself out to be a liar, here I am meeting my quota a week earlier.  For those of you just tuning in ( shame on you) , A few posts back (?) I made a little guarantee that I’d have 2 new posts by August 22.  Well here it is, August 17 and POW! Two posts before my self-imposed deadline.  And once again, DAMN it feels good to post new work.  Lets get on with it then, yeah?

So, as I’m sure you can tell, this project here is a poster inspired by my favorite tv program “Mad Men”.  The opening credits are phenomenal in a quite a few ways.  One of which is the fantastic use of the simple, yet refined silhouette of a man as he falls from atop a skyscraper.  Utilizing simple shapes to accurately depict a human form is not an easy feat, by any stretch of the imagination.  There are few tricks to it, but all-in-all you really have to know what you’re doing to pull it off successfully.  The opening credits without a doubt crushed it.   I love it so much that I really wanted to take the same concept and put a personal spin on it.

Like I said I took the basic concept of using a simplified human form and using line and color contrast to create a believable figure.  Now what I chose to do was add a singular layer of detail, seen in the detailing of the slacks, to give the legs some slight definition and weight.  It also happens to add a bit of texture, which was one of my main goals right from the beginning.  Adding texture is one of those little tricks I was talking about earlier.  The slightest amount of texture can bring a silhouette to life in no time flat.  Speaking of texture, I had to figure out a way to incorporate some into the figure without drawing every ounce of attention to it. So I created a granulated, almost scratchy, feeling in the shoes; Not only to set them apart from the hand but to give your eye a reason to move down the figure, and hopefully to the quote and right back up again.

I really focused on retaining the overall feel of the opening credits so I kept the color palette simple, yet masculine and approachable.  I knew right from the beginning that using a lot of black in the figure was not an option, as it would’ve been a little too close to the opening credits, stylistically speaking.  So I did what most guys do when black isn’t an option: Go with Navy.  I chose to use Navy with a grey-ish hint to it as my base hue and then picked a few shades and tints that paired well with it.  Contrast is huge when creating depth and separation and placing the colors together, while fun, is not easy. I feel pretty good about it, though. I think everything is where it needs to be in order to be effective.

With a lot of the (potential) print stuff I do I set out to create a weathered, aged, imperfect feel in the piece.  As with the SOJA poster I did a ways back I added some detailing to create a somewhat damaged feel and to give the impression of a somewhat poor printing job.  I absolutely love doing this, as I believe it can add a certain grit or physical feeling to digital work that you only see in analog work, so to speak.  To some, adding this weathered, damaged feel has become a cliche but for me I think its a great little touch that really adds yet another point of intrest for the viewer to examine.  If you’re lookin’ hard at it, then I’ve done my job!

As I usally do I listened to a specific type of music when working on this project. I actually have the OST to the 1st season of the show so that was a no-brainer.  But I mixed in some Serge Gainsbourg, some Bonobo (do yourself a solid and look into this guy) and some Big Bopper with just a touch of Frank Sinatra.  It really put me in a headspace to create something that captured the essence of the opening credits, yet expanded on it. Something simple, refined , masculine yet has texture and a believable, yet parred-down, level of detail.  I’m not even gonna lie and say I didnt have myself a few Old Fashions while workin’ this project out.  As you can probably tell, I’m real big on creating a vibe when I work.

Ok I gotta rap this up:  I took the concept of the simplified figure from the “Man Men” opening and expanded it by adding a layer of detail while also adding color and texture and spicing it up with some decorative elements.  All in all it was super fun and a great learning experience.

Man, I really gotta work on keepin’ these posts brief.  I’ve worked up a thirst with all this typing. Its time for another Old Fashion…