Joker. A movie with a simply beautiful beat-up logo. Wood type letterpress is back. No joke. A book can’t be judged by its cover, just in the same way that a movie can’t be judged by its logo. Or can it? Some of the best…
Joker. A movie with a simply beautiful beat-up logo.
Wood type letterpress is back. No joke.
A book can’t be judged by its cover, just in the same way that a movie can’t be judged by its logo. Or can it? Some of the best films of all time are remembered for their beautifully designed logos. Think Star Wars; The Godfather; Seven or Jaws. OK, I’m possibly being a bit subjective here but these logos, to me, are as memorable as the movies themselves. Some even more so. Making a memorable movie logo can make the difference between whether you watch it or not. Of course, like books, there are movies with amazing logos yet the film sucks. But let’s not talk about them.
Let’s talk about Joker (2019), or more precisely, the Joker logo.
You’ll be forgiven if you can’t yet visualise it, the film’s only been out a few months and still showing in cinemas. But the reason it resonates with me is due to the logo having been created with good, old-fashioned wood type letterpress. (Joker’s font is Gothic for those who care).
The logo struck a chord with me immediately purely because the last time I saw wooden or metal press letters was in the printmaking department at art school. And I’ve always loved the look, feel and texture of the individual letters. Each had so much character and untold history behind it. And in this hi-tech, highly digitalised world we live in, they’re becoming ever-rarer (and continue to, rightfully so, increase in value).
For those of you unfamiliar with the letterpress process – (these are the basics) you’d assemble the relevant letters to make a word. The word would be back-to-front as you’d then run an ink-soaked roller over them and once printed, hey presto, it would be the right way round. Simple.
But that’s just the thing. The sheer simplicity of this soon-to-be-iconic logo is what makes it so interesting. This is by no means an independent production. It’s a mammoth budget collaboration between Warner Brothers Pictures and DC Films. It’s written by, directed by, produced by, and stars some of Hollywood’s biggest names. So to say that the movie’s financiers were taking an unheard of risk with the Joker logo – the first thing the audience sees; the device that adorns t-shirts and features on posters – is a huge understatement. What’s more, it was created by just one designer, a very brave, and very lucky, Chad Danieley.
‘Danieley, who studied graphics and motion design at Pasadena’s College of Design, explained to the verge.com ‘how going analog captured the film’s tone and feel better than a digitally created logo would have.’ And he’s right – some digitalised insignia would just look wrong in comparison to the final logo.
He continues to share his love of letterpress with verge.com: ‘If another person used the same wood type, it would have a different feeling for someone else. The personality comes through in the beat-up / dented faces of the type as well as the inking style and how much packing the artist adds or takes away that makes it interesting.’
And he goes on to tell verge.com, that the real beauty of the Joker logo could in no way be replicated in Illustrator. The wood is unique and structurally warped. But the best thing about the logo? It was his first attempt that (after being slightly Photoshopped) went on to become the logo you see today.
If you don’t already, you should follow Chad on Instagram: @chaddanieley
Photography by Stefan Silvers
Master of design. Mastermind of the corporate logo. Logos come and go. If lucky, some hang around for a number of years, while others are continually updated and evolve with the times. Some are scrapped and revamped in the hope they’ll perform better next time…