From Design Observer

A good title sequence should exciting and thrilling, luring the viewer into the film. You might think that’s the case for every summer blockbuster, the kinds of movies that lead with titles that rely on noise and action and intensity. But you’d be wrong, and Stephen Frankfurt's titles for To Kill a Mockingbird help to show us why.

 In 1962, Robert Mulligan directed the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. It is in many ways a surprising book to adapt for the screen: there’s no love story, no violence, and relatively little action. The story centers on a middle-aged widower, a lawyer played by Gregory Peck, who is raising his two children in the South. The film succeeds through its graceful depiction of characters as the story unfolds with frailty, humanity, and heroism.

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Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Chair of the undergraduate and graduate Graphic Design Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.

Forbidden Love

Call me out of touch, but I love books. I recall being told in college to "spend money on books, not pot." Unfortunately, I was spending money on Top Ramen, not books nor pot. I'm not a book snob. I'm thrilled to find a copy of Tidewater Virginia as well as a first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird. While I spend many hours showing Paul Rand and Alvin Lustig jackets, I have a secret love for the jackets of the unknown. With titles such as Saphira and the Slave Girl, which sounds faintly lesbian-esque, how can you go wrong?

The New York Public Library has a remarkable digital collection of book jackets from 1926-1947. These aren't chosen by a select group of designers for high design aesthetic value. Research Libraries typically remove dust jackets and discard them before shelving the books. From 1926-1947 anonymous librarians collected and saved jackets they found interesting. They range from unbelievably wonderful, Greatest Show on Earth, to the odd, Less Eminent Victorians. As a collection, the design trends and resources become clear. The lack of color during the World War II period is obvious. The minimal usage of photography shows, not a preference for illustration, but the issues with printing technologies at the time. As it was common for an illustrator to be hired to draw the cover jacket, much of the typography is hand-lettered in wonderful ways.

The books here have a subtext of personal care. Someone handled this artifact, chose the cover, and carefully stored it in a scrapbook. Perhaps it's because my grandfather had a wonderful library, and my grandmother was never without a book, but these books all seem to have been loved.

Shown here is the first of a series on this subject. The book jackets images include the spine.

Angels in Malibu

I have a reel that I show my first year students at Art Center. It’s a collection of my favorite classic film titles. Of course I have multiple Saul Bass titles, such as Psycho and North by Northwest. I have Stephen Frankfurt’s beautiful sequence for To Kill a Mockingbird, and other incredible examples. I also have the title sequence for Gidget. Why? Because I love Gidget. If you don’t you are probably a Communist. The sequence is pretty cheesy, but perfect. So laugh if you must at my inclusion of Gidget in my Top 10 titles list. Some day, however, Gidget will be recognized as genius. A little bit of trivia: Sally Field played Gidget, and her brother on Brothers and Sisters, Ron Rifkin, played Mel, one of the gang on Gidget.

How to Rebound after a Really Bad Day

I'll be honest. This last week has been one hell of a bad week. Like everyone, we're feeling the economic issues. I went home Friday night feeling a little beaten, but I remind myself, to quote from Oscar Hammerstein II, "The world belongs to you as much as the next fella. Don't give it up." So wallowing in self pity isn't an option. And I try to remember that I've got it easy compared to my forefathers who colonized Jamestown and Plymouth, fought a revolution, lost fortunes after the civil war, but just kept going. So, having low cash flow really isn't life threatening. But I'm human, so I felt pretty crummy. Then I came across the title sequence to To Kill a Mockingbird designed by Stephen Frankfurt, and this made everything ok, in addition to the rum and Fresca (Rumescas) and anti-anxiety pill.