How to write a great design brief for your graphic designer.

You’ve been pondering over it for weeks, months — perhaps even years. You know it inside out and back to front. It’s your baby, and it’ll be brilliant! But; here lies an obstacle – how do you best communicate to a graphic designer the details, tiny nuances and objectives you have, that require their creative input?

Achieving design that truly represents – and hopefully accentuates – your project, begins with a healthy amount of dialogue between you and your designer. It’s time to gather up all of your thinking – the what, why, how and what if’s – and arrange them into some sort of sensible explanation. We designers make use of a helpful series of questions – commonly known as the design brief – to assist you in identifying the information most relevant. It should be said that some design briefs though, are more superior to others. Being asked the right set of questions by a designer and understanding why they’ve been asked in the first place, lays the foundations for a better project outcome.

How to write an effectual design brief

Why write one in the first place, you may ask? Why not just have a brief phone discussion and get the ball rolling? Writing a design brief, whether you write it yourself, or have your designer write it for you, has numerous benefits.

{ Recently, I wrote an article about those benefits that explains these more fully. }

So, what constitutes the contents of a well-written brief? These are the things in my own practice, I really like to know before moving towards the research and concepts phase:

01. Tell your designer all about YOU. And, I do mean ALL. —

Your designer is now your new best friend. It’s crucial to work with a designer that you know in your heart of hearts you can trust. The more openly you can speak with them, the more they will understand your expectations and motivations. This leads to design that addresses your bigger goals, rather than narrowly focusing in on the smaller, mandatory details only. A well-written design brief should cover expansive knowledge of your brand. Often I find the simple mistake here can be to resist revealing all – this really shouldn’t be a time for a modest elevator pitch.

Give a background on the history and where you’re at, present day. What do you create, provide, represent? What do you see it growing into? What are the big goals, issues to achieving these, and where does it’s strengths and weaknesses lie? What are it’s values, tone of voice, attributes? If it were a person, who would it be? Who are it’s competitors? What makes your brand unique? What problems does it solve?

Answers to these questions add up to giving your designer a good overall sense of the big picture – often forgotten in the determination for the project’s details. Your designer is now better equipped to be able to advise you and steer you in a direction that is more tailored to fit you!
02. Who is your audience? —

It’s unfortunate that you cannot be everything to everyone in this world. There’s no point in trying. But, there is an upside to this! You can be meaningful to a select group, one that will stay loyal to you, if you are loyal to them. Narrowing your focus and understanding as much as you can about your selective audience and catering to them specifically, will pay off in dividends. Tuning into your audience and understanding what motivates them, pleases them, frustrates them, helps immensely in formulating an informed visual direction for your designer. Speaking succinctly to your audience, in THEIR language – be that visual and verbal – is the goal here.

What do you know about your audience, or the audience you would like to attract? Describe a typical member of your tribe: Are they predominately male? Female? Does your brand have more than one audience? Where do they live, work and play? How much do they earn? What do they spend their money on? What are the motivations behind their purchases or use of a service? Do you have any data you can share with your designer? Do you have past surveys, focus groups, Google Analytics or data from your Facebook Fan Page? And what about feedback?

Understanding your audience will allow a designer an insightful view into communicating with them in a language that is appropriate. Creating a story that speaks to your audience in their visual language will create a sense of belonging, which in turn builds brand loyalty.
03. How and why did your project arise? —

It may be that your brand has lost it’s way a little, a whole lot, or that you are simply in the start-up stage. It may be that you’ve discovered a gap in the market for a new product. Maybe you’ve just about finished your artistic endeavors, but you need to visually package everything together. Giving your designer an insight into the way your project came to fruition, helps them to understand the motivations and objectives behind your project. This section of a design brief really helps to define the design ‘problem’ – big, small or somewhere in between – highlighting the issues your designer needs to fully address and resolve.

Tell your designer about your ‘problem’. Give them a summary of your project and the main reasons you are commissioning them for their creative input. How did this all arise? What are the goals you plan to achieve by undertaking the project? Is it to create further recognition? Develop your audience? An investment or financial gain? What specific design deliverables do you believe addresses your ‘problem’? And how will you measure your success?

These factors will drive a designer to find and create an effective aesthetic and strategy that is in tune with addressing your goals.
04. Pinpoint the key message you are giving to your audience —

Often in communication, we tend to muddy the waters by saying too much. It is important now more than ever to simplify. You are competing in a sea of information, a decreasing of attention spans and the increased perceptions in lack of one’s time. You have about five seconds, more or less, to make an impression – so – make it count. What is the single, key message you wish to impress on your audience? How would you like them to respond, feel, react and/or act?

Your designer will now be sure to focus in on illustrating this message succinctly and simply.
05. OK! Now, for the details —

This may come across as rather obvious! However, ensure you tell your designer what you require from them. Provide as much detail as you can. The outcome of a project is affected by it’s constraints, so it’s important to be upfront about these before a project moves to the concept stage. A thoughtful designer will be able to forewarn you of issues that may arise because of said constraints and steer you towards a direction that bests reaches a compromise.

Give them an idea of your deadline, and any outside factors that may affect the date. How many people will be involved in the signing off process? Are there mandatory, non-negotiable factors that must be adhered to? What is your printing and/or development arrangement? Is there any text in the works that needs to be finalised and supplied? Will the scope of the project likely remain as it is?

 

Keep your designer abreast of these details, and any amendments as soon as they arise, and you’ll find you’ve created a more mutually collaborative relationship.

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Gathering and sharing all the information – research, data, plans, goals, thoughts, samples, inspiration – you have at your disposal, enlightens your designer with much more knowledge to operate from. If you let them into your inner circle, by placing emphasis on partnership, rather than just relying on their technical know-how, you’ll find it will allow a designer to respond by creating a meaningful, engaging outcome. One much more in tune with your goals and your audience’s desires. This is the unequivocal benefit of mastering an excellently written design brief!

If you’re wondering about the specific questions of a design brief, try searching for samples online – there are plenty out there to pick and choose from. In my own design practice, I’ve formulated a series of questions from over ten years of reading and putting them together – feel free to utilise this one if you see fit!

This post also appears on Creative Women’s Circle, a community for women working in creative industries to meet and share information, inspiration and ideas.

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Rebranding ReachOut.com

Australia’s leading online youth mental health service, ReachOut.com, helps young people under 25 overcome life’s obstacles, from the everyday, to the significant. The non–profit organisation delivers practical online tools and actionable information, making it easily accessible for young people to help themselves and their friends. ReachOut.com now attracts over 1.4 million visitors each year to it’s flagship website, by leveraging technology in innovative ways to attract and engage young people.

The design problem

In early 2011, there were a number of issues that warranted moving ahead with a rebrand.

In the decade since ReachOut.com launched, the upward trend on mental health advocacy had seen rise to a number of organisations, services and even brands, dedicated to seeing an improvement in the health and wellbeing of young people. ReachOut.com amongst this landscape was starting to lose it’s relevance, particularly as a voice relevant to youth culture. The design and user interface of the site was also becoming increasingly outdated.

A review of research and survey data identified that only 30% of young people experiencing mental health disorders were currently seeking help. The findings promoted the need for a redesign of the service, to ensure ReachOut.com connected to and engaged more young people, particularly young men. The culture of ReachOut.com has always been to collaborate with young people to create a service that is relevant to them, so, through extensive research and youth participation workshops, ReachOut.com arrived at a new service proposition and target market. The biggest change to ReachOut.com’s brand position, was a move towards focusing on the benefits of doing something positive for your mental health and wellbeing, not the pain, that comes with experiencing a tough time. The workshops concluded with young people requesting ReachOut.com make them feel accepted, confident, hopeful, relieved, motivated and reassured, by providing them with actionable help and advice, so that they could take control and do something positive themselves, about their mental health and wellbeing.

To increase the relevance, reach and impact of the service, ReachOut.com redirected their target audience to reach the 70% of young people that currently were not seeking help. Predominately this is young men, whom face a high degree of stigma towards mental health disorders, followed by young people who may not be experiencing a mental health problem, but could find the service useful for themselves or a friend, at some point. ReachOut.com concluded that to reach these people, the brand should present itself as the persona of a 25 yr old male friend – the casual expert – someone who gives solid advice, but delivers it in a way that is relatable and easy to understand. He lets you take control while promoting positive action.

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The response

Visually communicating the new ReachOut.com was in large, a response to the new service proposition – focusing on taking positive, actionable steps that would make the audience feel accepted, confident, hopeful, relieved, motivated and reassured; engaging a new, slightly male skewed audience – whilst helping to remove the stigma associated with mental health disorders; and regaining more credibility within the context of youth culture and the brand’s online presence.

ReachOut.com Rebrand – Brand Elements

A positive and approachable visual style was explored and developed to communicate the new proposition. Through a mostly bright, uplifting colour palette, complimented by celebratory, spirited typography / graphic elements and a sense of fluid movement in all of the brand’s assets, the identity shifted, from focusing on the negative aspect of a difficult situation to embracing the positivity of taking control.

To connect and engage with young people not seeking help, ReachOut.com also needed to communicate itself as an informative, yet approachable, casual expert – a slightly older mate who reassures you – he knows what you’re going through. Visually representing this persona was achieved by striking a balance between the above positive, approachable visual style and creating authoritative, male–friendly elements. Typefaces were selected to evoke confidence in the information presented and the masculinity of the persona. A shift from bright hues towards slightly more subdued colour hues was done to signify authenticity. Introducing navy and a warmer black to the palette were to convey empathy and knowledge. Gradients were removed as a way of reducing the softer feminine feel of the previous identity.

It was clear to me in reviewing the old identity and researching current trends in youth culture that ReachOut.com needed to modernise the way it visually expressed itself towards young people. The current generation are connected, creating content and communities with like–minded people across the globe – they respond to collaborative engagement with brands that are a creative, genuine and relevant voice. I responded visually by creating brand assets that were contemporary in style – illustrative, hand–made and tangible. Creativity and imaginative delivery were paramount to the brand look and feel appearing authentic and relevant. I wanted the audience to feel as though the elements were a tangible object they could pick up and rearrange – a collaboration of sorts – with the individual: creating a sense of momentum to act.

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The results

The rebrand was applied across both online and offline platforms – including an award–nominated website redesigned and developed with the new brand guidelines, by DTDigital.

Since the rebrand, ReachOut.com has seen an increase in unique visitors and engaged users of 27% from the previous year, and their social media channels continue to grow steadily in followers. Almost 50% of the young people that ReachOut.com interact with on social media channels are now young men. 75% of young people who used ReachOut.com reported that it helped them to better understand mental health issues. Nearly half said it helped them to seek professional help.

How understanding the creative process can both benefit your relationship with your creative, and your project results.

Collaborating with a creative can be a daunting, and sometimes overly frustrating experience. Especially if you hire one who just isn’t quite delivering. It may be that you are struggling to find a freelancer / creative with the right aesthetic for you – and that’s another story – but sometimes it can be about their process, or lack thereof.

You need someone who has the talent, but, who can also work swiftly, and with total communicative ease, to back that up – creatives who possess all three of these traits, follow a structure known as ‘the creative process’ to deliver to you, brilliant work, that’ll have you doing cartwheels over rooftops.

The value of creative process

So what should follow after you’ve settled on a creative / graphic designer / illustrator? What steps should be taken to achieve that poster or branding update you’re after?

I thought I’d share with you some insight into the process behind responding to a creative brief – hopefully this unveils some of the mystery often shrouding creative projects, if you’re unfamiliar, or, have had previous experiences that have left you running for the hills.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that the role design and illustration plays should not be undervalued as merely making things pretty — good design and illustration connects with it’s audience – by communicating tone and values, creating unique differentiation, it informs, communicates – even contributes to the zeitgeist. These positive effects are the very premise for having a structured creative process – good visuals – backed by a solid process – can achieve your goals. Visual communication should be employed as a strategic advantage, in successfully communicating your identity.

A strategic approach in design, means the designer considers the key objectives of your project. You are ultimately hiring a creative, to solve a problem to achieve the goals you define – what visual communication simplifies down to, is a response to a defined problem: it’s a puzzle to solve.

…What visual communication simplifies down to, is a response to a defined problem: it’s a puzzle to solve.

By defining the problem, be that, getting people to attend your show, or say, needing to update your brand for a new era, there lies a process for solving that puzzle and developing a remarkable response – a response that is meaningful, audience focused and much more likely to achieve the objectives you have in mind.

That process, goes a little something like this:

01. Write a clear and informative design brief that defines your objectives —

The most important tool to creatives, is what’s known as the design brief. A design briefing allows the creative and client to explore and define the project, objectives, success criteria, target audience, competition and the scope of work to be carried out. It works both as direction for the creative, as well as an exercise in alignment of everyone involved in managing the project. A great brief clearly defines the problem and thus helps to avoid frustrating dead–ends or disagreement, further along in the process. It’s important to remember that the more detail and time you place into the brief, the more likely it is your creative will produce work that you’ll be singing praises about.

A great brief clearly defines the problem and thus helps to avoid frustrating dead–ends or disagreement, further along in the process.

{ Recently I wrote an article about the benefits of writing a design brief, that explains this more fully. }

02. Investigate the design problem from all angles —

Creating meaningful design, starts with knowledge. Researching and understanding the factors of a project involves collecting information to better understand your design problem – by collecting all the available pieces, we are more likely equipped in solving the puzzle! This may include interviews / surveys with you and your audience, reviewing processes and existing elements / materials, researching the competition, the current market and culture, an analysis of current and / or potential audiences, and trends in marketing strategy. The more data made available, the better a creative can pinpoint ideas, concepts and restraints to build within.

03. Reflect. Develop concepts with insight and creative gusto! —

In reflecting on the above research findings, ideas are now ready to be developed – from an informed viewpoint – critical to creating visual communication that works. Knowledge is introduced to the most creative of the stages: creatives employ techniques such as brainstorming, metaphors, mind–mapping, visual inspiration / triggers, mood boards and other tools – seriously, my best ideas come to me in the shower! – to push creative thinking into exploring possibilities of the puzzle. Sketching out and experimenting with ideas are then followed by forming a proposed solution(s) and presenting them to you. You’ll know you’ve found a good creative, when they back up their choices by linking back to the design brief and research.

04. Question, refine and implement the design direction —

After having the concept(s) presented to you, it is most often necessary to move forward with choosing a direction and/or refining the work. Don’t panic, if your creative gun doesn’t get there on the first go – there may be a need for several rounds of discussion and refinement. When presenting feedback, it’s best to be guided by the objectives you’ve clearly defined in the design brief. Ask yourself – is the design reflective of the goals and objectives? Does it convey the tone and feel of your values? Does it appeal to the target audience? Don’t be afraid to discuss the issues with your creative – a good one will happily accept constructive criticism, take your feedback on board and be able to guide you to an excellent solution.

Ask yourself – is the design reflective of the goals and objectives? Does it convey the tone and feel of your values? Does it appeal to the target audience?

{ In my experience, too many cooks though, can spoil the broth. Here is a fantastic article by Rebekah Campbell of Posse, in which she talks about a method she has for making creative decisions when it comes to her brand. }

05. Sign off and launch your project! —

It’s go–time! All parts of a project are created, refined, and made ready for your final approval – after we’ve ensured the project objectives have been considered and answered to. Artwork is prepared and sent off to the printer or developer to finalise your project. Important information is passed onwards. Open channels of communication between your creative and printer and / or developer is highly recommended in ironing out any issues or questions that may come up. Files should be archived and delivered to clients for external use, if this is per the agreement in the contract. Where necessary, they can be accompanied by usage guidelines to protect and perpetuate the identity created.

06. Evaluate with any newly found hindsight –

If suitable – more so to extensive projects such as branding or a campaign – a creative can write a debriefing to evaluate and reflect. This might include discussion and feedback on possible improvements, such as the creative process, the outcomes of the project and it’s measurements in being successful. A debriefing can be done to benefit everyone in any possible future collaborations, or to further improve the project based on new data and recent outcomes. Evaluation on behalf of the creative I believe, helps to invest in your brand’s future – establishing a relationship with your creative as a partner, rather than a service provider – fosters a creative who will help to grow and champion your identity, in moving forward.

So, to sum up – what are the benefits of working with a creative who follows this process?

  • It encourages clear communication with everybody involved
  • It fosters collaboration and a more likely, successful outcome
  • By defining objectives, values and issues, it aligns all involved
  • It aids and resolves conflicts in personal opinions
  • It manages risk, by firstly defining your expectations and goals
  • It provides the creative with a structure for solving the puzzle

{ It may also help to avoid the pitfalls hilariously pointed out in this cartoon by The Oatmeal!}

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Reasons for writing a design brief.

To achieve design that matters, it’s imperative your designer must understand all aspects and the tiny nuances of a project. You may end up, otherwise, with something that looks pretty, but will it resonate with your target audience? Will it increase your brand awareness, increase your sales, or better your other strategic goals? Will it solve the heart of your problem? Design can be strategically valuable, if the project has clear goals and objectives from the outset.

Enter the design brief.

In my opinion, this often over–looked, rushed and/or under–valued part of the design process is vital to the outcome of your project’s success, and most likely, your bottom–line.

A good project briefing thoroughly explores and defines the project, objectives, success criteria, target audience, competition and the scope of work involved.

For the client, a good brief works as:

 

  • A defining of the problem, to which an informed design becomes the solution to;
  • A process of clarification and refinement, before moving too hastily ahead with concepts;
  • A challenge to existing perceptions, that may have resulted in the design problem initially; and
  • An alignment of all the key decision–makers, helping to avoid dead–ends or disagreements later on

 

And for the designer, a good brief works as:

 

  • The best guide to quoting a project accurately by understanding the total scope involved;
  • A directive tool, that the designer can constantly refer back to, to ensure they’re on–track; and
  • A reference tool, to design from an informed viewpoint, creating more meaningful design

This part of the process manages the risk involved in investing in the hire of a creative, by creating common goals, with defined issues/restraints, and a structure for solving the problem. It aligns all involved with a reference point, giving the designer the ability to clarify and understand the needs of the client and their problem. Writing a design brief encourages clear communication and collaboration between the two parties.

Collaborating with your designer in a transparent approach, by sharing your most likely, intimate knowledge of your brand – be that a product, service, your own art – will harvest the most innovative project outcomes. Think of your designer almost as if he/she were a business partner – sharing your deepest values and business goals, will allow for insight and new perspectives that may just spark the most creative of solutions, and help tick the goals on your list.

This all begins, with a clear, well–written and informative design brief!

If you would like to view a sample of a design brief, you can download a template of questions I’ve put together for past clients here.

This post also appears on Creative Women’s Circle, a community for women working in creative industries to meet and share information, inspiration and ideas.

There’s an annual, travelling, creative conference based in Australia called Semi Permanent. It’s a two–day session of talks from leading national and international creatives. The range of creatives, diverse – in the recent September Melbourne conference, we heard from designers, illustrators, photographers, creative agencies, publishers, artists, an architecture/interior firm and even a tattooist!

Semi Permanent

I attend Semi Permanent as I feel the format allows for speakers to present their work freely, making it a very personal presentation. I find this enables the speaker to gently remind or speak a compelling truth, at some point in their session. It may be in the form of their attitude towards their work; the creative values & beliefs they live by; the drive undertaken to get things just right; the hindsight in chaotic mistakes made along the way. The insightful, little pearls of wisdom is what I clutch to – as a solo professional I’m eager to empathise with these speakers and ensure I’m on the right path.

So how can I apply these insights practically and aim to be a better creative? What did 2012’s set of speakers leave me thinking about?

1. I can experiment / keep trying new things

Micheal Leon – an experience designer based in Portland, who’s design chops include the skate division of Nike, and his own skate company Stacks – struck me as a man with amazing and fearless talents. From the extensive work in his presentation I gathered they’re to be contributed to the ceaseless curiosity that leads him to be constantly experimenting with his art, personally and professionally. Through the process of making things on a constant, seemingly daily basis, his explorations meld and cross over into his personal and client projects, oozing with free flowing creative thinking, a trait any good creative desires.

2. I should do what i know best / get involved in the things i love

A familiar pattern returned this year from the majority of the individual artists who spoke. On discussing how they got their start in their field of expertise, it was clear they spent their time within these fields on a personal and passionate level. Michael Leon, a teenager who loved skating; started combining his passion with art when he made his first skateboard designs.

Illustrator Beci Orpin, a lover of fashion and textiles began her career working within the fashion industry; her list of illustration clients now also reflect this beginning. It seems the more immersed you are on a personal level in a passion / hobby, the more you can bring to the table as a creative. What I’ve grown up with and know best is music and the arts; time to clean out those ears and explore some new music, dust off my party shoes and head to the theatres.

Reminder: Live, Breathe and Feed from the arts!

3. I can find and listen to all involved

Studio Round, one of my favourite design studios based in Melbourne, work with an impressive bunch of clients in the cultural and corporate sectors. They showed us a case study of the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, and explained the strategic work they did upfront on the rebrand of the museum. They revealed that in order to create a more succinct and successful branding outcome it is better practice to listen to people involved from the project at all it’s different levels. Not only were the directors involved, but people from all aspects of the museum, as well as the community were interviewed.

Word maps were compiled and broken down to find the common threads between the many differing groups of people. From these common word threads a sound, more authentic picture of the brand immersed. It was clear that collating further information beyond the directors, equated to a more holistic brand experience for the museum’s audience.

4. I can further develop my own voice through experience

Brooklyn based street photographer, Boogie, was another stand–out speaker. He shared stories of his past experience and there was one very poignant point he made about the importance of finding your own voice. Today with the internet at our fingertips it is very easy to get caught up in what other creatives are doing. While it may be beneficial from an inspirational perspective, it may also have a negative impact if you’re not self–aware; over-saturation of ideas seeping into your own “voice” can leave you looking uninspired.

Boogie grew up in war–torn Belgrade where he had no internet and no books. His photography, an observational street style was born out of the experiences of his environment. I think unplugging and removing yourself from the work of others every now and then can be a positive move – time to switch off the net and find alternate streams of inspiration – through experiences!

5. I can create stories for brands, rather than advertisements

Ignition Creative are a creative agency specialising in entertainment, based in Santa Monica. Their talk focused on the shift in advertising, to brand storytelling. They started with why advertising is struggling and made some great points – today there is increased choice, disruptive technologies and a behavioural shift that encourages consumer participance rather than observation.

If we look at what’s popular in entertainment – it’s solid storytelling that cuts through – storytelling is the most powerful form of communication – humans are captivated by other peoples stories and are moved by emotion. So, instead of advertising at an audience, we should be creating whole brand story systems to tap into that desire for emotional connection. By creating a story, we can connect to an audience and engage on a much more meaningful, authentic level.

6. In the future i must be flexible

Audience participation was also highlighted by Ignition Creative. Through creating a solid brand system that involves the use of online and offline techniques, we as creatives can involve an audience more effectively. In essence as a creative, I should be broadening my definition of design to include creating whole brand systems – taking advantage also of new technologies and methods of storytelling to connect with today’s audiences who prefer their input. I need to be willing to rethink, relearn and recommit to acquire new skills in order to achieve this.

Studio Round also touched on this theme, that the future for a creative is about being able to adapt your role to fit with your client and their audience’s needs. Be open to problem solving a brief in non–traditional ways. Projects are a commissioning of ideas – we as creatives need to be flexible in our approach to problem solving a brief with bigger concepts than ourselves and our current capabilities. Collaboration among clients and other creatives will be / is key to innovative solutions.

Case Study — Showreal Films’ latest documentary, My Thai Bride was selected for screening at IDFA, the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam in November 2011.

Director David Tucker approached me with the need to capture a poster and postcard to attract an audience during IDFA and to hopefully be selected for other high profile festivals into the future.

I was given the trailer and below film synopsis along with David’s brief to help with understanding the film’s tone and themes:
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Ted, a 46-year old salesman from Wales, visits Thailand on business. After revelling in the carnal pleasures of Bangkok, he falls in love with Tip, a bar girl. They marry and start a new life in her poor, rural home. Ted soon finds he isn’t alone. In northeast Thailand marriage to foreign men has become an industry. Things soon sour for Ted. His money has disappeared much faster than he expected. No one seems to want him around the farm anymore.

When Ted asks Tip if she loves him, she replies: “I can’t eat or drink your love.” Ted returns home destitute, having learned what his Thai wife already knew: without money you lose everything

A1 Poster A1 Film Poster

My Thai Bride is a documentary film that exposes the human condition. It explores the complexities of human relationships and the consequences when people and relationships are reduced to a commodity.

The observational style follows the story of two people with very legitimate but individual needs, that end up exploiting one another in the process.

The motif…

On deciding the poster’s imagery, I chose to utilise the symbol of a heart as the motif of the poster – “love” being the backdrop to the film’s story. In my mind the symbolic heart is almost a mockery of the complex, expanding nature of love; suggestive in that the marriage in the film isn’t entirely made of mutual adoration and respect.

In order to reveal the complexities of the film I wanted to show a montage within the heart that accentuated the various sides of their stories. The various imagery reflects on the complications at play.

The torn heart framing the poster is alluding to what we’re all suspecting the story leads to. The teared up pieces, a bittersweet proposal that love was downplayed in a much more complex layering of needs displayed in the various images they hold. It is as if Ted himself is sitting alone in his hotel room, playing, arranging with these pieces, trying to figure out what had changed.

Typeface Top of the heart motif – An exchange sign

The finer details…

The exchange sign at the top of the heart is almost like the starting point; exchange of a different life for Ted in Thailand, exchanging money for love and sex, and feelings of youthful abundance. The image of Tip and her daughter mixed in with imagery of Soi Cowboy is a powerful juxtaposition to what’s at stake for her.

The paper effect of the poster looks and feels like it can be picked up and thrown away at any moment. It’s fragility adds to the film’s observation on their relationship.

Warm Thailand LightThailand – Warm Light

The colour toning I selected sets the scene for Thailand; I think I was influenced here by the film Traffic, where Mexico is always bathed in a warm, tropical light. It reminded me of being bathed in yellow light in Thailand – sunshine on the islands, polluted air in the cities.

Typeface Typical Wedding Invitation Typefaces

Finally the typefaces I’ve chosen are intended as a mockery of traditional wedding invitations; they’re full of prestige, hope, reassurance, finality; yet this tale tells something different. It’s real–life messiness and characters facing uncomfortable truths – an intended contrast to the approach of the heart motif.
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The poster & postcard were well received by IDFA and I’ve now implemented a website for Showreal Films dedicated to the film that you can view here.

My Thai Bride has since been selected for several high profile documentary film festivals including Australia’s F4 Festival, where it was a finalist in the 2012 F4 Award, and Canada’s Hot Docs – one of the most prestigious documentary festivals in the world, where it won Best Mid–Length Documentary for 2012.

A6 Postcard My Thai Bride – Postcard

 
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