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5 Top Tricks and Tips: Art Direction's Greatest Hits

As well as being the ‘B’ in GBH, Mark Bonner is also an award-winning Creative Director, D&AD trainer and all-round whizz when it comes to art direction. His new course, ‘Art Direction for Brand Communication’ will set you on a path to visual greatness. So to get you up to speed, here are Mark’s favourite five from art direction’s back catalogue.

‘#WeAreHere' by Jeremy Deller for Now 14-16

An outstanding example of art direction, not from design or from advertising, but from contemporary art. This project is the very definition of art direction; an idea transmitted on exactly the right wavelength, without interference. The artist’s decision was to make a live monument, that visited us. He decided that the ‘soldiers’ should walk, sit, smoke, stare, sing, but that they should not speak. Their silence became their power. Staring straight at us, they never crossed the frontline into our time. Like apparitions from our conscience, they sat, they waited — occasionally bursting into a private, communal song—but not one of them uttered a word to modern life. If approached, they handed the recipient a tiny white card, displaying name, rank, battalion and regiment of a real soldier who had died at the Somme. Immediately and effortlessly, via sensitively presented facts, the vast scale of the tragedy is reduced right down to one contemporary individual being inextricably twinned with a life, lost forever.

‘Egoiste’ by Jean-Paul Goude for Chanel

Goude’s over the top tribute to women scorned is a triumph of succinct storytelling. At just 45 seconds, the viewer is treated to an ingeniously public succession of females raging at an unseen lothario, the ‘Egoiste’ representing the name of the Chanel scent itself. The angry yet humorous rhythm of its dramatic intercut imagery is twinned in a perfect storm with its Prokofiev soundtrack. Idea, Location, Casting, Music, Photography and Performances all align to make one of the finest commercials of all time.

‘Egoiste’ by Jean-Paul Goude

‘Goldfinger' by Robert Brownjohn for Eon Productions

Robert Brownjohn’s seminal title sequence for Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger is a miracle of improvisation without a storyboard or script. Shot over just two days, he put gold-painted model Margaret Nolan through an arduous repertoire of ad hoc poses in the constantly changing context of projected imagery. With a mix of intuition and instinct the visual language of Cinema’s most enduring franchise was formed and its iconic recipe of female form and surrealist imagery was set.

‘Goldfinger' by Robert Brownjohn

‘United Colours’ by Toscani for Benetton

The Italian photographer and Art Director made numerous Ads stretching the meaning of the apparel brand’s positioning ‘United Colours’ to its outer limits. He took a little known knitwear brand to global consciousness but using the ads to take about inclusiveness in a time long before brands had a social conscience and cared about sustainability and CSR. As well as being brave, confrontational and provocative, each ad is a masterclass in minimalist messaging.

‘Rorschach' by Alan Fletcher for Polaroid

To launch Polaroid's new colour film, several designers of international standing were commissioned to produce a personal interpretation of an instant, colourful solution.  

Early Polaroid filmstock required the photographer to peel back a chemical layer, and wait for there image to develop. His design is based on the psychologists' Rorschach personality test. The technique of the paper being daubed with paint on one side and being folded to transfer the image onto the other side is reflective of the Polaroid film process in which you peel away the outer layer to reveal the image. When once asked ‘What does it mean?’, Fletcher responded by shrugging his shoulders – and saying, ‘What do you think?’.


Ready for more? If those tips have piqued your interest, sign up to take part in Mark’s full course below.

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