Richard Linklater's first major film defined a term, a generation, and left an indelible mark on a city now known as a film town. For us, an opportunity to dig into what we know best: Let it be what it wants to be.
Linklater's films are known for their writing, their words, how people interact. While the the film is in continuous motion, it is the dialogue that drives it. It was a no-brainer to litter the book with lines from the film, sometimes randomly, sometimes in conjunction with specific art. One could argue that you could step into the film at any point, as there is no plot. Same goes for the book - the pages are part of a whole, but each lives on its own.
From the first it made sense to use the original logo and the best-known character (Madonna pap-smear woman, as she's called), who had been used in the original promo. Personally, I couldn't stand the image - there were other characters I preferred. But its not my film, and again, you have to be aware of the audience. So we got subversive - which only made sense, as there are a few times in the film where the characters - the slackers - are talking about bucking the system. So we joined in.
For the most part, every time we needed the logotype, it was based on a rude foamcore stencil. We printed out the original, taped it to foamcore and just cut straight thru, with a dull blade. Why change it? Be a slacker. Then we spray painted the foamcore yellow, (when the film was released on video, back in the 90s, a companion b&w book was published. both book and vid packaging used yellow, so we picked up on that) and holding it against a variety of exterior surfaces used it as our titlecard. And we used the shadows it created in camera (Nikon D320 digital), the leftover forms we'd cut out, and even spraypainted the stencil behind our office so as to have it on concrete.
And when it came to using pap-smear gal, we stapled a laser print of her to a telephone pole, after having soaked it in water, and then drying it -instant weathering. With that image and our hand-held template, we had a cover. Of course using pap-smear gal came after a suggestion from Criterion after they'd seen - and loved - one of our original ideas: the title-card against a close-up of a staple ridden telephone pole. We'd presented other versions of the card, with the card reflected in puddles, held up against the sky that the natural ambience of sunny Austin literally came thru the stencil. We knocked out a few dozen variations, before locking on the inclusion of pap-smear gal. When working on projects that have several components, I can't stand each piece being identical, so we had the opportunity to use some of our early ideas. The cover of the digipac which houses the disks is just the close-up of the pole, with the titlecard; the shadow created by the stencil shows up in the book as the title page.
Design associate Bart Kibbe, and I roamed the streets near our office photographing numbers that we found on telephone poles, utility boxes, stenciled on curbs, which we used for pagination (we didn't number every page, adding to the slacker quality). Afterward, Bart suggested we use the manhole covers which we'd shot, for the actual disks. Bingo. Perfect. Credit where credit is due. It doesn't get more Austin, or street, than the manhole covers 25" from our studio. We faked the spraypainted logo on them as I couldn't bring myself to mess up the neighborhood. South Austin is a whole 'nother world. We've helped bring that Austin experience to life.
For more see the article that came out in Step Inside Design, Take It Personally.