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  • Artist Series Videos

    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 the film.

    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 about.

    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.


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