Presenting Shakespeare

I just got my copy of Mirko Ilic and Steven Heller’s new book, Presenting Shakespeare. It contains 1,100 posters from around the world — India, Poland, New Zealand, Turkey, Switzerland — over 50 in all. They start as early as 1779 and run through work from the present day.

Of the 1,100 selected, just 75 posters are for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with designs for London’s Savoy Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, among many other notable productions in dozens of countries. And of these, only 18 are from the United States. These include works by such graphic design luminaries as Milton Glaser and Art Chantry.

MidsummerPostcard-72dpiOh yeah.

And in this overwhelming overview, there’s a poster for a production at Santa Monica High School that happened to feature a young man named Gabriel Freeman as Demetrius. A poster designed by… me!

I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to be included in this collection. I’m honored, excited, nonplussed, and out of adjectives.

I have to say that the design reflects the vision of our talented director Darryl Hovis and wonderfully creative set/costume designer Shannon Kennedy, both of whom inspired the weirdness of using a Papua New Guinea mud man as the main eerie image. But the rouge on the cheeks was all mine.

The book is pretty wonderful if you love either design or Shakespeare. You can buy it on Amazon. I’m on page 163. (But you can see the poster right here.)

Pippin at Samohi

PIppin graphic

I’m working on a campaign for the musical “Pippin” which Santa Monica High School is putting on starting March 7. The theater department there is something I’ve supported for 5 years now. I love creating posters for them that are evocative and professional. I hope they inspire the young actors, musicians and production geeks to put forth their best efforts, and that they let audiences expect a high-quality experience, which in turn supports the program.

The productions do live up to the campaigns. (And sometimes surpass them!) If you get a chance to attend, it’ll be an entertaining experience, and you’ll be supporting a wonderful cause.

South Pacific: a new face for an old friend

South Pacific poster image

Designing a poster for a musical that everyone already knows is both fun and a little intimidating. The Rodgers & Hammerstein classic has been interpreted by designers for over half a century. Is there room for another one?

Apparently so.

Here’s my image for the Santa Monica High School production. For those who don’t know, South Pacific is based on James Michener’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel, and won 10 Tony Awards on Broadway. Songs like “Some Enchanted Evening,” “There is Nothing Like a Dame,” “Bali Ha’i” and “Younger Than Springtime” are all from this play. The big splashy type, the palm trees and the chorus line of 1940’s pin-up girls are intended to remind the viewer of its history and scope. In a way, the show doesn’t require a lot of explanation; the image just needs to trigger your memory.

But the more profound aspect of the musical is the way in which it deals with racism — hence the little orange/tan pin-up girl. That’s what keeps the show relevant and powerful.

South Pacific opens March 1 at big, beautiful Barnum Hall. For tickets and more information, visit

PS. My son Gabriel landed the role of expatriate Emile DeBecque. We’ll see if he can pull off a heroic middle-aged Frenchman while channeling a little Ezio Pinza!

Bike It! Day in Santa Monica

Bike It! Day logoDon’t you just love it when an idea you helped promote builds into something wonderful? Me, too!

A couple of years ago strategic marketing guru, organisational whiz and fellow parent Richard McKinnon asked me to create a brand identity for Bike It! Day. He was working with student activists Charlotte Biren and Jenna Perlman to create more awareness of bike-riding, and to try to make it cool again. It looks like they succeeded admirably.

From a single school, the program has grown to encompass the entire Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, with 3,300 participants. And Biren and Perlman received a Commendation from the Office of the President (yes, THAT president), honoring their achievement at a national level.

I’m thrilled our little contribution added some visibillity. But it’s amazing what kids can do when they have a vision and a champion.

Streetsblog Los Angeles » Best Practices: Bike It! Day in Santa Monica.

(Note to self: Don’t let WordPress add “recommended links” without checking them! Amusingly, “Office of the President” linked to The President of the Philippines before I fixed it manually. Sorry for any confusion, peeps.)

No-budget design

12 Angry Jurors ShirtOne of the challenges I love is designing for clients who have virtually no budget.  And no expectations. It’s a chance to be creative quickly, because they can’t afford for me to spend a huge amount of time on the project… and I can’t either. It’s a chance to see something come to fruition with a minimum of fuss, and often maximum impact compared to what the client is used to.

One recent project in that vein was the identity and promotional material I created for the Santa Monica High School production of 12 Angry Jurors. The play is an adaptation of Reginald Rose’s classic 12 Angry Men that includes both sexes.

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