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Reading about designers can be moving. Seeing their work can be
inspiring and, at times, provoke us to action. Hillman Curtis, in his
video series, allows us to experience leading designers through sound
and motion, uncovering what it is about them that inspires him.
See the entire video series
To find out more about how Hillman created the interview series, we asked him to reveal a bit about the origin of the project:
AIGA: How did you develop the idea for the video series?
Hillman Curtis: I knew I wanted to get deeper into
digital filmmaking, and the first step, for me at least, was to buy a
new camera (a Panasonic DVX100). The next step was to find a project.
Since no one was knocking on my door with film projects, I decided to
create my own.
At the time I was preparing to give two lectures in Texas: one in
Dallas and one in San Marcos, and my friend Stef Sagmeister was sharing
the bill, so to speak. So I asked him if he would mind if I brought my
camera along to film him.
I shot footage on the plane, during his talk, and in a convertible
that we rented to drive from Dallas to San Marcos. I had a vague idea
that I’d make a short documentary and then if it turned out OK, I’d make
others. In the back of my head I knew it could be a way for me to meet
some of the designers I admired. And I knew I’d learn a lot—both from
the featured designers and from the actual technical process of making
AIGA: Who has inspired you, and why?
HC: Everyone featured so far, for different reasons
of course. One of the rules I gave myself when I started making these
movies was that I’d feature designers who directly inspired me or
somehow made it easier for me to become a designer. That rule is
becoming a little blurred as I become more aware that this vehicle-the
series-is also a great way for me to discover the work of designers
whose work I may have seen or admired, but whom I knew very little
AIGA: How do you choose the music and images?
HC: That’s one of the hard parts. But, you know...
the music is going to be different for Milton Glaser than it is for
James Victore; they have a different energy as people and I try to find
music to support that. A lot of the music is original music that Eli
Janney composed based on the feel of music I used while cutting. So I’ll
use Sufjan Stevens or Mogwai to cut to, then I’ll hand the file over to
Eli, and he’ll work to match it.
AIGA: If you weren’t doing these videos, what else would you be doing?
HC: I’m not sure. I’m not interested in directing
commercials, and I took a real beating filming the two music videos I
did. I have started a short film series and just wrapped the filming of
the second in the series... but I don’t know.
The first few shorts were sponsored by Adobe, and I couldn’t have
asked for a better patron; they were incredibly supportive and positive.
But I’m happy just doing this on my own. The videos are a real positive
balance to the design work I’m doing, which has been very analytical
and precise recently (I’m currently involved in the re-design and
conceptual design investigations of Yahoo.com).
I’m real hesitant to attach money and clients to this stuff because
it’s still so pure to me, and it is something I can do all by myself. I
like the control.
in his video series, allows us to experience leading designers through
sound and motion, uncovering what it is about them that inspires him.
Section: Inspiration -
Hillman Curtis, in his video series, allows us to experience leading designers through sound and motion, uncovering what it is about them that inspires him.
Hillman Curtis, in his video series, allows us to experience leading
designers through sound and motion, uncovering what it is about them
that inspires him.
When I started out, I worked for a designer who told me that there was a
little regret in every job. At the time, I thought this was a negative
But now I realize that if you don’t see that there are things that
you could do differently or better, you won’t keep striving to improve.
who aren’t afraid to question themselves and their work are the ones
who ultimately get better and succeed.
Section: Inspiration -
mentoring, advice, emerging designers, students
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