Slamdance has been fortunate to work with some of the top graphic and animation artists in the world. Festival artwork has been made by Shepard Fairey, Kii Arens, Adams Morioka, Nico Casavecchia, to name but a few. This year's Festival art is being created by Bill Sneed of Yankee Peddler. As Slamdance kicks off its festival season here is a first look at the 2013 art project and Bill's approach to working on Slamdance's Rocket to Unchartered Territory.
Slamdance: How did you approach the 2013 artwork project with Slamdance?
Bill Sneed: We were given the original idea of a spacecraft lifting off from Hollywood and touching down in Park City, Utah, so our job is to make that short trip as heroic as possible.
The Slamdance rocket was designed to resemble a jet engine with a steering wheel, something that's fast and rugged, but also pretty dangerous. We wanted the style to follow that lead. By playing with some very two-dimensional elements and mixing it with the style of early painted movie posters, we're aiming for a scrappy Americana feel.
SD: What makes the Slamdance project different from your other work...if it does?
Bill: This project is going to incorporate some new techniques we've been trying to test out for a while, pushing illustration into motion in different ways, but the big challenge we're looking forward to is packing as much story and personality into a very short amount of time.
SD: In your commercial work, how do you stay true to your company vision and make sure your clients always get what they want?
Bill: That is the knife point of our business, but we would rather have our client walk away happy, than win a war of attrition over their logo design, project, etc. We try never to forget that the client also has to sell it up to their boss and their boss's boss and their boss's spouse. But our clients get our honest opinion, and even working within a bigger advertising strategy, we can always find a creative solution that tells their story.
For balance, the one thing we absolutely do is keep a fairly healthy list of internal projects that can showcase the talents of people we work with. Those limitless projects help take the pressure off of the client directed ones. It's where we can make our mistakes, and turn those mistakes into the next epic discovery.
SD: Tell us more about Yankee Peddler and its goals...
Bill: We like characters and we like content, and we're always finding new ways to integrate those two. Yankee Peddler is a small company right now, but our size has enabled us to work on a wider range of projects that time and money won't permit otherwise. We're building a portfolio that better represents our sensibilities, and having that level of control keeps us passionate about the work. I don't know exactly what our company will look like in 5 or 10 years, or where the line between advertising and independent content will be drawn, but our focus has always been on using every resource possible to flush out new stories, and giving them time to let the tires catch.
SD: What has been the best job you've done and why?
Bill: Our favorite projects tend to be the ones that are the most creatively free, such as the "Ohio" music video. Because of the open brief, we were able to surprise ourselves with the direction and discover a deeper level to our style. I know it is a leap of faith for most clients, but the end product seems to be the most effective when we are given a basic idea and allowed to run wild.
SD: Knowing what you know now and what you didn't when you first began working, how would you do things differently?
Bill: If I had to be really honest, I wish I would have had the courage to take more risks early on. That doesn't mean develop an ego or grow a sense of entitlement, but I made a lot of decisions based on fear that I was not going to live up to expectations. As I have gotten older, I know that by staying in the lines, you are missing out on the best opportunities to grow, get better and mature as an artist.
SD: What advice would you give someone starting out in motion graphics and design today?
Bill: Learn to draw. At the very least, develop a confident style, even if it is not picture perfect. Find companies you like and foster skills that would make you an asset to those companies. Ask the hard questions about what you want to get out of this industry. Take criticism well. Get an internship right now. Seriously.Find any opportunity. School can teach you programs, companies teach you the business and urgency. But above all, work hard, then work harder and be humble.
About Yankee Peddler: Yankee Peddler is a motion graphic and design company. We illustrate. We make books. We animate commercials, short films, and music videos. We take our cues from the original Yankee Peddlers.
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