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Potting Shed Heroes: Saul Bass

We haven't been blogging for a while, mostly because we've been so busy.

So we thought it was about time we got the ball rolling while we line the next volley of blogs about recent work up. This one is the first in a series of Blogs about what has influenced the various members of The Shed. First up is Creative Director Al Mitchell and one of his early design heroes the legendary Saul Bass.

Growing up I was, and to be honest still am, obsessed with classic movies. My parents had a large collection of amazing movies and a big chunk of this collection was devoted to Alfred Hitchcock. I watched these films over and over, from North by Northwest to Rope, from Rear Window to Marnie. But by far my favourite of them all in those days, and these days as well, was Vertigo. This masterpiece of cinema is not only a roller coaster ride plot -wise but is also jam packed with all sorts of camera and cinematic techniques that have been copied so many times since it's release that they have almost entered into cliché. The more I learned about Hitchcock, the more one name cropped up again and again and that name was Saul Bass. Hitchcock trusted Bass's vision so much that he even asked him to storyboard entire movie sequences, the most famous of these being The shower sequence in Psycho which Saul mapped out from start to finish.

SAUL BASS (1920-1996) was not only one of the great graphic designers of the mid-20th century but the undisputed master of film title design thanks to his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger and Martin Scorsese. He was also probably one of my earliest influences in graphic design and his incredible body of work continues to influence me still. Born on May 8, 1920, in New York City. Saul began his time in Hollywood doing print work for film ads, until he collaborated with filmmaker Otto Preminger to design the film poster for his 1954 film Carmen Jones. Preminger was so impressed with Bass's work that he asked him to produce the title sequence as well. This was when Bass first saw the opportunity to create something more than a title sequence, but to create something which would ultimately enhance the experience of the audience and contribute to the mood and the theme of the movie within the opening moments. Bass was one of the first to realize the creative potential of the opening and closing credits of a movie.

His work is so distilled and so pure, yet this distilled message is still delivered with absolute elegance and drama. Although best known for his work in films and movie posters Bass was also responsible for some of the world's most iconic brands. From United Airlines to US telephone giants Bell, from Kleenex to Warner, Bass and his eponymous studio churned out so many of the brands that define our popular culture, as fresh today as they were 40 years ago.

Bass talks about something all designers wrestle with from the small to the mighty, the pursuit of creating beautiful work, whatever the cost.


Author Potting Shed