A selection of the best animation articles including news, opinions, and features from around the world for the week beginning the 19th of April, 2020.Read more
The website Brand New is one of my very favourites. Analysing brands, logos and identities is never a dull sport as there is always something to discuss. Seeing as they wouldn’t really cover an organisation as small or as niche as the Animation Guild, I’ve taken it upon myself to analyse their new logo in a befitting manner.
To begin, let’s take a look at the old logo:
Wow, just, wow. How that was considered acceptable for such a long time is beyond me. An update was definitely (and desperately) needed and indeed was granted by the powers to be:
If the first thing you see is a spring, you are not alone. Plenty of commentators made light of it over on the blog post revealing the new logo. Plenty more tried to connect it to the Guild’s purpose or indeed how it related to animation. We’ll get to that in a second, but first, what about the logo as a logo.
Well, it does attempt to connect the ‘a’ and the ‘g’ together. This is far from a new concept in the graphic design field, but it’s a trick that is only truly pulled off by the best. The designer is Malcolm Grear Designers, and their website reveals that they’ve pulled it off before. In this case though, it comes off as a wee bit confusing, which in fairness is more as a result of the monotonous use of colour than the design of the logo itself. Instead of standing out, the two letters merge into one, neither being overly pronounced despite the heavier leading on the ‘a’.
The colour isn’t offensive. A nice, friendly light blue isn’t going to get anyone in a lather very quickly. It should also translate well into monochrome but will of course retain the clash between the letters. I can’t help but wonder what it will look like after a few bad photocopies (you’ve all seen examples of that I’m sure). Let’s just be grateful they’ve included the title, just so that we know we are dealing with the Guild and not some spring company from Ohio.
So overall, the logo as a design is OK. However that is only half the story though as we now turn our attention to how the logo works as a brand.
The Animation Guild was originally set up to represent artists throughout the animation industry in California and beyond. It reps all the larger studios (Disney, etc) as well as plenty of smaller ones. The animation industry is tight-knit and it’s not often that those within it have to deal in a significant way with outsiders (I’m talking strictly artists here).
A such the old logo alluded to these origins, with a lightbox and mouse. The new one? Not so much. I could wax lyrical about the ‘spring’ and how it could represent how the union gives helps to artists and their careers and so on, but that is a waste of time.
The logo serves first and foremost to identify who the Guild stands for, hence the use of the “Animation” in the title of the original logo. That said, the designers give their rationale for going for a non-descript new logo over something more specific to animation or VFX:
Since the Guild is made up of a diverse group of creative artists, writers and technicians in motion-picture and television animation and computer graphics it was important to us that the symbol not represent any specific design style.
This is more apt than initially appears. The Animation Guild has made noises about organising VFX studios and although that profession is distinct from animation, it would reflect poorly on someone attempting to represent them while appearing to champion that profession over visual effects.The old logo above clearly spells out ‘Animation’ thereby appearing in theory but not in practice to promote one over the other.
Add video game designers into the mix and it rapidly becomes clear that having an animation-specific logo wouldn’t do much good at all. In that respect, the new logo works well as an ambiguous representation of the guild. By reducing the logo to initials, you also remove the direct link to the name and hence the awareness of the ‘Animation’ in the title.
The typeface choice is clean and suitably contemporary (sorry, I can’t name it off the top of my head) but does away with the capitalisation in a move that (to me at least) downplays the serious role that the Guild does.
So overall, the new logo is a much-needed and suitably appropriate upgrade to the Animation Guild’s brand identity; something that, as they note on their blog post, has become increasingly important for now and the future to come.
Yes, DreamWorks really is pushing the envelope, the release envelope that is. Here’s what I read this morning over on the Animation Guild Blog that really made me take a minute just to think about it (emphasis mine):
There is a squadron of other features are lined up on the tarmac, but I won’t bother rattling them off, since you can see most of them listed here. (It dawns on me that by 2014, DWA will have thirty animated movies out in the wider world. By contrast, Disney’s fifty-first feature — after 73 years, came out last Spring.)
You could easily argue that DreamWorks isn’t as diversified as Disney, nor has it ever put out even close to the same volume of shorts. However, the fact remains that as far as animated features go, DreamWorks is certainly cranking them out.
Now you can read this any number of ways you like. Be it that the fact that Disney is diversified means they do not need to rely on aniamted films to bring home the bacon, that things were different back in the old days or even that Disney has such a strong brand that they can afford to coast on films for years after release in contrast to DW which must continue the releases to bring in the dough.
I tend to believe that DW does need to continually release films, hence it’s faster production rate. However, the time will come when DreamWorks will have earned a legacy that is strong enough for it to slow down a bit. That day is still a bit far away, but it is drawing ever closer.
This afternoon, while out trying to find my brother a summer job (we’re in the northern Baltimore suburbs and he has retail experience, e-mails with tips to the usual address please), I began to think about employment in the animation industry.
First of all, I’m not gainfully employed in any aspect of the animation industry (yet) so this post may be somewhat speculative. Feel free to comment if I get something wrong. First of all, the coast you are on is a big factor. Typically, the East coast scene tends to be on a more individual level. Sure there are studios, but chances are you will get a position through word of mouth more than anything else.
The west coast side of things is an entirely different animal. Being the nexus of animation in the US, Burbank studios tend to be much larger, so it is more unlikely that you will get a job based solely on word of mouth or personal recommendations.
What struck me about being a job seeker is that you are much more likely to land a job if you know someone, or someone knows you. Would you rather give a job to someone you know or a name on a piece of paper? The answer is pretty clear.
In terms of the animation industry, the nomadic nature of work means that a sizeable number of people are looking or work. More so in the current recession, but that’s the same for everyone unfortunately.
The industry is one that also has trade union representation in the form of the Animation Guild. Their blog is an excellent view from one side of a coin and while I do not necessarily agree with many (or indeed any) of the points made, it is always a good thing to keep up to date with others’ thoughts, especially those of the union guys. (For a take from the not-quite-other side of the coin, I highly recommend The Business of Animation: A Commentary, a blog that dispenses the author’s thoughts with refreshing directness.)
Ideally, you should be hired on your merits. In other words, can you draw, stick to deadlines, have artistic skill and follow instructions. Realistically, filling in an application form for a job is like someone repeatedly smacking you in the face just because you decided to apply for the job. Why make things so complicated? Sure the new employee is going to cost you money, but if you treat him or her right, they’ll generate you much more. Why beat them over the head before they’ve barely walked in the door.
The important lesson from all of this is to network extensively and maintain a wide circle of contacts who you can rely on should things go pear-shaped. In return, you’ll meet wonderful people who will eventually turn to you for advice and recommendations. Sadly, too many people don’t do this and end up feeling bitter about their whole experience.
My advice, God helps those who help themselves, get out there and get to know as many people as you can and be genuinely passionate about your place in animation, no matter what it is.