The Designing of JOKER`s Iconic Logo with Wood Type Letterpress

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Shannon Robinson

22nd November 2019

Shannon Robinson

Background of the movie

JOKER is an original, iconic, standalone fiction piece mastering the mix of tragedy and drama. This incredible movie sketches the story of the DC comics characters “JOKER,” which was performed by the much-publicized star, Joaquin Phoenix. This world-famous R-rated movie, lays out a possible origin of the story for the character Arthur Fleck. Arthur’s character is a failed stand-up comedian in Gotham City. A struggling man striving to find his way in Gotham’s ruptured society, and a series of unfortunate events turn him into the JOKER. The story starts boiling from 1981. Arthur was a clown-for-hire by day and pursued to be a stand-up comic at night. However, he always felt like the jokes were on him. Finally, the real deal begins as Arthur gets caught in a cyclic existence, amid insensitivity and cruelty. The cycle ends up with him making one wrong decision that brings about a chain of intensifying experiences in his gritty character creation!

In easy words, this psychological thriller depicts Arthur as a mentally unstable man who suffers from isolation and bullying. He continues to strive and fight with his demons, but bad day after bad day, drives him mad, turning him into as the psychopathic killer.

21st Century and Logo Designing

JOKER Iconic Logo Design

Can you imagine the 21st century without the entertainment industry? Definitely not! Not is it only hard to think of; instead, this is next to impossible. A world without TV, films, Netflix, YouTube, or even social media? Nope, not happening here! The entertainment industry is not just there to enthrall our attention; instead, it has become a need now. Imagine spending a night without watching a whole season on Netflix or going on a vacation and not having to listen to music; Cherry on top, no option of having a movie date or a movie night with friends. Doesn’t it all sound horrible? Well, don’t worry, no such thing is happening anyways.

To be precise, the entertainment industry not just works hard to entertain us every day, they are digging into more innovative means to withhold our attention every second. Thus, the first and foremost means they use to cultivate our interest is through the creation of a captivating logo. Which, so far, is the best way to convince the audience and build their interest. Taking the movie ‘JOKER’ as an example, its iconic logo was also one approach to preserve the attention of the audience. And to give them another fascinating and creative concept to be fond of.

Logo is one of the first chattel fans see, whether it is posted on posters or pictures in a trailer, so this is one heck of stuff on which studios spend quite a handsome amount of money to design a masterpiece to escalate incitement among their audience. For this designing purpose, a lot is kept at stake, complete agencies which are specialized in creating logos are devoted towards this lengthy task. Not ending here, these extravagant logo designs are then run through by manifolds of stakeholders and undergo several revisions before they are out in front of the public.

Nevertheless, it will not be a big surprise for you now, to know that the logo for the DC movie prankster is crafted – or if you say it was designed – by the designer, Chad Danieley, with the “wood type letterpress.” Chad Danieley explained on Reddit how he thought that this analog will capture the tone of the film and would feel better than a digitally created logo. It gives out the audience a better vibe and connection of the movie and the theme.

Wood Type Letterpress

JOKER Iconic Logo Design

The theory of this process might sound quite dull, but allow us to give you a short and quick description about “Wood type Letterpress printing” before we move on any further. It is a procedure of relief printing, in which we use a printing press. In this process, many copies are produced by a repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface against sheets or on a continuous roll of paper. A worker then composes and locks the movable type into what they call “bed” or “chase” of a press, then he inks it, and presses the paper against it to transfer the ink from the type which finally creates an impression on the paper. Other than this procedure, the letterpress also includes some of the different forms of relief printing with printing presses, for instance, wood engravings, photo-etched zinc “cuts” (plates), and linoleum blocks.

Chad Danieley’s Experience Working with Wood Type Letterpress

When William Joel, the reporter of The Verge, asked Chad Danieley, to describe briefly about his emblazing experience of devising this creative logo design and letterpress, he started by telling that in the beginning a small piece of information was given to him, to get a kick-start. The only thing which was told to him was that the theme is much darker and more visceral than the usual DC Jokers. Just this not a scratch more!

He then told that he had an HD full of letterpress-printed sample sheets, and within each print run, he would print several states. For this unique project, he did aggressive / noise / transparency / scraping of that one typeface, and then scanned and cataloged every single one of them. Further, he added that “I am not a purist, but I have always needed to bring my work outside of the computer by printing it out and adding some of myself into it.” Moreover, he told William that the physical objects, like wood type or Letterset, rub down kind, and help him in distinctly perceiving space. He does not always work through this technique, but this time it helped.

In addition to this, Chad also said that he felt great seeing the Logo being made using a letterpress. Still, something about it bothered him, it felt like textile and real, instead of a digitally created design. He further told that even after the logo was selected, they tested to make a version that was consummated in an Illustrator, but that too did not just feel right. The reason behind it was that the wood type is structurally warped, which is what gave it life, and made it what it is.

Telling about the post-work, he said that not much change was done to the initially presented logo. Warner Bros just added a slight color to the logo for each poster. Originally it was a little transparent, so he just graded up some levels in Photoshop; other than that, it was all the same.

Importance of Typeface in Movies

JOKER Iconic Logo Design

Typeface is an essential element comprising a film’s esthete and disclosing its story. In my opinion, typeface plays a critical role in delivering the authentic vibe and a meticulous nub to the audience, which itself expounds the central theme behind the story. It is the first thing which audience espies, plus it acquires full power to strike them. Based on the expressiveness of the typeface, people judge the whole story. Thus, it was becoming a motive to excite or halt the audience. Nevertheless, it possesses an underlined power for the success of the movie. Hence, it won’t be a transgression to opine that spending a desirable capital on the typeface is definitely going to pay for itself and that if Chad Danieley has come up with this descent idea of designing Joker’s Iconic Logo with wood type letterpress, with the motive for impressing the world and infatuate them, then he has definitely succeeded in this attempt.

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