Q&A: Art Director Jody Clement and Graphic Designer Joelle Craven
Editor’s Note: We culled your questions from Facebook and Twitter for this week’s Q&A with an Orphan Black crew member. This week it’s Art Director Jody Clement and Assistant Art Director/Graphic Designer Joelle Craven.
1. @virginiapelleg4 via Twitter: who paints the murals in Fe's apartment?
Jody Clement: Hi, @virginiapelleg4! The murals in Fe's apartment are a big collaboration! The big one featured in Season 4 was designed by our Production Designer, Graphic Designer, Set Designer, 2nd Assistant Art Director, and Trainee Assistant Art Director! Whew! Then our scenic department took over and made the work of art happen! They used a combination of rollers, stencils, and spray paint to achieve the final product.
2. @lcmorgan43 via Twitter: How did you get started as an AD? Any advice for someone wanting to do what you do?
Jody: Hi, lcmorgan43! I went to Ryerson University for Interior Design with an end goal of becoming a Set Designer for film and television. After graduation, I got my first job as a Trainee Assistant Art Director and then worked my way through the art department categories to become a Set Designer. I really enjoyed the managing and implementing of the overall vision so I made the leap to become an Art Director. I love what I do!
3. @Juana_Molina10 via Twitter: how is it different to work as a Graphic Designer in a show like OB from working in a studio? What is the skill set needed?
Jody: Hi, Juana_Molina10! I am not a graphic designer but I have worked with many. Working as a Graphic Designer in television is a bit more fast paced than at at studio. Decisions need to be made very quickly because we only have about seven or eight days to prepare for an episode. The producers and writers along with the production designer make the decision on the final look of the graphics, especially when it comes to logos and props. Joelle Craven, our graphic designer does an amazing job of presenting a variety of ideas to choose from. She is super-fast and super-talented. She primarily works in Photoshop and Illustrator.
Joelle Craven: My design career has been mostly in film/TV so I can't compare it with any in-house design studio. In the film world, especially on TV series, everything happens FAST. Graeme, John, our production designer John Dondertman, the director, and sometimes the writer might all be involved with the design of any particular element. Providing options is key. More than just the design, you have to know about manufacturing, materials, and substrates. We work with super-accommodating print shops and fabricators who deal with our insanely quick turnaround and custom job requests. The greatest part is that every script is a challenge completely different than the ones before (3D-printed Prolethian belt buckles, a stick-and-poke Neolution prison tattoo, candy packaging…)
All that said, the major challenge is timing. Many things are happening at any given moment and you need to project how long something will take from start to finish. Once the graphic is designed it still needs to be fabricated. Often it is handed over to the paint department for a finishing, and then to construction or Set Dec for installation. It's a lot of working backwards... quickly. When a new script comes out, I can't always jump to get ahead — I'm usually still working on the requests of the present episode. That's when having an awesome art director like Jody is essential. She'll give me a heads-up of a tricky schedule and get support in place if there is something that requires lots of time (Photoshopping backdrops, the entire Bubbles inventory, printable gold foil made to look like individual pats of butter…)
4. @dalecarlian77 via Twitter: Are they aware their designs infiltrate my life? I can't look at my computer's power button w/o seeing the Neolution logo
Jody: @dalecarlian77, Haha.... I know what you mean. The Neolution logo was designed in the first season on Orphan Black. I noticed the same thing when I joined the show in Season 2. Neolutionist are EVERYWHERE!
Joelle: Haha! It's totally amazing OB has such an enthusiastically supportive fanbase. A bit terrifying too! There are so many freeze frames and blog discussions for even the smallest of props. I hope to never make a spelling mistake. The Neolution logo was designed in Season 1 by Arlene Lott so I can't take any credit for that.
5. @and__ro via Twitter: what was the inspiration or influences for the branding identity of DYAD?
Jody: I can't speak to the original DYAD logo as it was designed in Season 1, however in Season 2, we brought the DYAD further to life by adding hexagons and double helix patterns to the branding and identity. The inspiration was Life, DNA, and genetics.
Joelle: As with the Neolution Logo, the DYAD logo was designed in Season 1. At that time, the art department had created the logo itself and some medical/pharmaceutical-looking brochures. At the start of Season 2, John Dondertman (JD) had talked to me about shifting the DYAD brand into more than just medical technology — leading-edge foundation with a brand injected in medical advancements, science, agriculture and community. We used hexagons — a nod to molecular structure — and the colored bands of DNA sequences as our starting points. Within a few days, we had designed the new DYAD brand with custom illuminated furniture, backlit murals, directional signage, brochures, lab paperwork, security cards, etc...
6. @frenchyfaith via Twitter: Did you sneak in any design referencing something else that no one figured out yet?
Jody: Haha ... maybe ... I love when the fans discover them.
Joelle: Maybe. I mean YES.
7. @katiewalter via Twitter: How much time and research does it take to come up with the final aesthetics?
Jody: Hi, @katiewalter! Time... hmm... we never seem to have enough of it but we work with what we have! Our Designer spends weeks in research and development at the beginning of the season to come up with the final aesthetics. Sometimes we wish we had months to really hone the look but things have to happen pretty quickly to get sets ready for shooting the 10 episodes each season. I think we have a great team and that we are skilled at coming up with great results in the short amount of time allotted.
Joelle: Our designer John Dondertman will have discussed ideas with John and Graeme and then he'll show me research of what is envisioned. OB can be quite collaborative and JD is open to my input from that point forward. The super-talented set designer (Emilie for the past two seasons) will have already drawn most of the set by the time I start on the graphics. It might have taken her three days to draw (pending approvals) or she might only have had four hours! I usually create the graphics for the average set in anywhere from half a day to half a week. Non-scripted elements and elements that don’t require collaborative approvals all happen fast and the entire process through to fabrication might be just a few hours. Or maybe we get a call on the day of filming with an urgent request, in which case the item is designed on the spot and someone (often the amazing Sash, who does a whole lot of everything in the art dept.) is out on the road to grab it from the print shop before I've even hit "send" on the file. Some of that stuff is never seen but still has to be custom-made.
8. Alexander G. via Facebook: How does it feel to create basically a whole brand and a corporate design for maybe just a few minutes within an episode or two? And isn't there a risk to get lazy and reuse brands built for other shows or productions?
Jody: Hi, Alexander. Our Graphic Designer, Joelle Craven, has a great deal of experience developing logos, brands, and identities for the show. She does research with every project that she encounters. Reusing brands for other shows is not an option because the work we do for each show is owned by that individual production.
Joelle: Good question! Because OB is such a brand in itself, the challenge is to make completely original designs. The main issue with reworking something already built is that artwork created for a production is legally owned by that production. So there's that. It's definitely a challenge.
9. Maryam M. via Facebook: There's so many cool little set pieces that it sounds like you guys are probably responsible for — the Book of Neolution, the Glendale Comm. Theater sets, the Dyad aesthetic...that giant awesome ampersand in Shay's apartment back in season 3. Have there been any set pieces or graphic elements so far that were particularly complex or challenging to conceive and/or put together?
Jody: Hi, Maryam — every set or prop is a fun challenge. A lot of collaboration happens with the writers and production designer. Rachel's mysterious room was a challenge in that we had to add a lot of elements into a set that had multiple layers of ideas and aesthetics. We had to decide where in our world this room would eventually be set and how the room worked with the development in our storyline. I think it is a beautiful result of many of these thoughts and ideas.
10. Nicole B. via Facebook: I'm a full-time in-house graphic designer, so my only client is my company. It must be fun getting a chance to switch gears between all the different fictional "clients" on the show. What has been your favorite project so far? Favorite easter egg? ;)
Jody: Hi, Nicole — my favorite easter egg is the photo of my mom and me when I was six months old. It was in Season 3 Episode 9, "Insolvent Phantoms of Tomorrow." We needed a photo of a mom and baby from the late '60s-early '70s, so I asked my mom to scan an old photo of us and send it to me. I showed the photo to the writers and producers and they loved it! Sarah Manning finds the photo on a dresser in the bedroom of a British flat. Turns out, my mom is Kendall Malone and I am Siobhan Sadler!
Joelle: I'll answer the last two questions together because they overlap.
I loved working on the Neolution book… it turned out so well. We used an old manuscript from the late 1800s, created our own gold-pressed leather cover and then had it all bound with custom interior page-spreads. I'm not sure if it was ever seen on-screen but the pages are written in English, Latin, and the Neolution language. Inventing that entire Neolution language (for the finale of Season 3) was particularly fun for me. It has a base in Sumerian cuneiforms but is also a nod to the molecular structure constellations Ethan Duncan scrawled in his copy of The Island of Doctor Moreau. I handwrote each character — in the direction of right to left — scanned them in, and created a font. (In my head, I have attributed phonemes for most of the characters, so that I actually sound out strings of characters when I look at it.) The language was used in Rachel's Mysterious Recovery Room (etched on plexi panels and carved along the frieze), in Westmoreland's Neolution book, and on the Island (carved on doors of Delphine's yurt and printed on prayer flags flapping in the wind).
Ooh! I also loved the Cold River Institute Archive, which was an intensely involved set. There were multiple boxes in the basement archive including two hero ones which were opened. John Fawcett liked the idea of Sarah discovering things gradually: finding a picture inside an envelope inside a journal inside a box. There were so many layers; the entire art department was involved... handwritten medical journals, medical documentation, microfiche, newspaper clippings, photos, genetic samples (hair from the heads of some of the art dept.) placed inside custom-built wax-paper archive envelopes. We even had the paint department age paper clips with a layer of rust… tiny tiny details. It looked fantastic, odious as it was.
Wait. Never mind all that. The Mexican Cantina. That was my favorite.
11. Celiz E. via Facebook: Was the name "rabbit hole" for the comic book shop intentional since it sorta became the safe house of the clones (like you're in the secret by going down the rabbit hole), or was it just a random idea? did you also design the store or was it an existing comic book shop? was there an orphan black comic book in that store?
Jody: Celiz! You are correct. It's like you are in on the secret! Our 1st AD, Joanna Moore came up with the code name for the show that eventually became the name of the comic book store and we felt it was fitting for the secret access to the safe house. We designed the store from scratch. There wasn't an Orphan Black comic in the store, however, there was a Funko Cosima Pop! Figure tucked in amongst the other action figures!
12. Joshua T. via Facebook: Hell-wizard had on a "death metal" t-shirt with a rainbow on it, as well as a couple other cool ones. Calwyn said at least the death metal rainbow shirt was custom made for the show. What was involved in deciding to make that character's clothes unique to him, and where are they now? ETA this is assuming you were involved in designing what went on the shirts.
Jody: Hi, Joshua. Hell Wizard t-shirts were designed by our Graphic Designer, Joelle Craven. The request was to come up with fun and cool shirts that had contrasting or opposing ideas like the death metal with a rainbow. The idea for this came from John Fawcett, Graeme Manson and Mackenzie Donaldson. They wanted Hell Wizard to have some edge!
Joelle: The request for t-shirt designs come from wardrobe and the producers. They might approach me with a general idea (edgy/cool/nerd graphics for Hell-wizard) or something more specific (a nod to My Little Pony for MK)... Where are they now? Probably in wardrobe's storage unit in case they need to be unpacked for Season 5!
13. Victoria B. via Facebook: Is it difficult to create a design for something that potentially represents so much to plot line of the story, and similarly might be unique to each character and clone?
Jody: Hi, Victoria. On any TV series we work on, it is important to understand the uniqueness of a character and the back story of who they are. It is especially important on Orphan Black because of the identity that needs to be developed within the spaces that represent each clone. You can see that in Alison's perfectly-labelled and packaged items in her deep freezer, the bohemian set dressing in Cosima's underground lab beneath Rabbit Hole Comics, or Rachel's loft overlooking the city displaying her status in the Dyad Institute. Three very different looks for three very different clones!
[caption id="attachment_376614" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] Joelle Craven, our Set Decorator Liz Calderhead and our Head Carpenter Eric Summerly in our helicopter set designed by Emilie Poulin[/caption]
14. Lauren C. via Facebook: Working now in television was that always your career plan? Art direction lead you to Graphic Design or did Graphic Design give you the pathway to TV?
Jody: Hi, Lauren. I came up with my career plan to work in television when I left my career in radio. That's entertainment... (bad joke) When I decided to get into Film and Television, I went to Ryerson University for Interior Design with my sights set on becoming a Set Designer. It was only by working in the industry that I realized that I wanted to become an Art Director. I love my job!
15. Chris M. via Facebook: Do you ever insert "inside jokes" in the designs, whether from cast & crew random chat or something that only the cast & crew would understand and laugh at?
Jody: Hi, Chris. Yes... we do have "inside jokes." Sometimes they are the result of long hours worked and repetitive events that occur while on the job. The jokes may not make sense to you but look for clues in packaging.
Joelle: YES. Definitely. We have way too much fun in the art department, and yes, sometimes it ends up on set. Often, it's in the small details written on forms and paperwork and we aren't sure if it will ever be seen on camera.
In the scene when Rachel’s function is being assessed with flashcards (right after her eye is poked out) a few items were scripted for the cards: the castor horse tattoo, a key, a bird maybe? I needed to create a whole deck and included some images like a pencil (slightly cruel joke at Rachel’s expense) as well as a line drawing of Darwin, the IKEA monkey... which was kind of topical at the time (Google it!).
16. Khalid H. via Facebook: What inspired MK's screensaver and the patterns which sometimes loop when she's communicating via webcam?
Jody: Hi, Khalid. MK is a quirky character with trust issues. She has a childlike quality about her so the funky patterns came from her connection to her inner child and she uses them to disguise her true location.
17. Orlaith O. via Facebook: Is there a particular color scheme you keep too, no matter what brand logo you are designing?
Jody: Hi, Orlaith. Colors used for logo designs are like any real world corporations. The only difference is we try to keep corporations and businesses distinct by using opposing colors so that the audience doesn't get confused by the visuals and perhaps if it is an "evil corporation," we will choose colors that best represent the tone like reds or blacks.
18. Anna L. via Facebook: How do you create variation and contrast between companies that could easily be interpreted as similar? What was your biggest challenge?
Jody: Hi, Anna. It is difficult to create variation and contrast between companies that are similar. We try to achieve the contrast by use of color and design style. Both DYAD Institute and BrightBorn are designed with modern spaces, however with DYAD, we used cooler colors like blues, whites, and greens and with BrightBorn and Evie's office we used warmer colors like reds, golds, and browns. It allows the audience to immediately identify the corporate space and not confuse the two identities.
[caption id="attachment_376613" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] End of show breakfast! From left: Emilie Poulin, Sasha Kosovic, Joelle Craven, John Dondertman, and Jody Clement at the bottom[/caption]